I recently wrote a passionate article about how silly the NHL is in regards to their All-Star selection process. Since I was able to release my frustrations in the form of a 1000 word article, I decided today would be a good day to relax and have some fun with my writing. That’s why I’ve created this fictional NBA All-Star Format (feel free to steal the idea, NBA). 

Bringing Effort to Game

The reality is, the NBA All-Star Game lacks effort in a big way. The NBA did recently change the format to trying to win each individual quarter and then adding up the totals and playing a fourth quarter where the game ends once a target score is hit. That led to a competitive two minutes at the end of the 2020 game, but last year’s game was a low effort blowout, and I’d expect the players to continue to play with a lack of intensity going forward, as has been the case in these types of games for a long time. So why not try something completely different? Something that’ll truly bring the best out of these players. Something that will have the fans on the edge of their seats with dramatic moment after dramatic moment! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, The NBA’s Billion Dollar All-Star Division Tournament!

One Billion Dollars on the Line

Let me go through my idea step by step, starting with the Billion Dollar part. As much as you want these players to play hard for the love of the game, it just doesn’t happen. We need something to make these players actually give a hoot. The NHL decided to try something like this when they started awarding one million dollars to the winning All-Star Team. The problem is, that’s chump change. Once you split it up amongst all the players, it’s the equivalent to me finding $5 on the ground. The NBA players make even more, so the prize has to be massive. I did a quick search and found out the NBA does indeed make billions of dollars as a league every year. So why not set just one of those billions of dollars aside and hand it over to the winning All-Star team? You would get a much higher effort from the players in two way that would help the league- 1. The actual play of the All-Star Game would be much more intense. 2. The first half of the regular season, which can drag on at times, would be played at a higher level because everyone would be trying to get into the billion dollar game! The only thing left to decide is if the billion dollars would be better handed over to the winners on one of those oversized checks, or if the money rained down on the court in straight cash after the final buzzer sounded. That could get a little dicey with the crowd, let’s stick with the giant check. 

Lost Suitcase Full of C-Notes is "Social Experiment" - The Village Voice
A billion dollars is a lot, see how it barely fits in this suitcase? Surely that’ll get the players playing hard.

Divisional Breakdown

The second aspect of this game is the Division part. This is where you have to move past the traditional All-Star Games that you’re used to watching and understand that change can be a good thing. Instead of having two teams, we would have six, one for each division. You would select the six best players from each division to make up the six teams. One thing that’s lacking in the NBA is divisional pride. I hear it way more in baseball how the AL East is the best, or in football how the NFC East is overrated. Why not bring a little of that to the NBA? Do people even know the divisions in the NBA? Well, this format will help the fans figure the divisions out, and have the players take some pride in their divisions, too.

NBA Standings Explained – The NBA Explained
A nice visual for those that want to understand why the divisions are what they are.

Tournament Style

The third and most important part of my new and improved All-Star Game format is that it’s now going to be a tournament. Here’s how it would work. The first round would be three games, each division taking on another division. Those matchups could be randomly picked before the tournament begins. Each game would be 12 minutes long. The 3 winners of these games would move on to the semi finals. But wait, you need four teams for a semi-finals! Here’s where it gets fun. The losing three teams would choose one shooter to enter into a three point contest. Winner of this contest has his team into the semis and back in the running for a billion dollars! From there, the team that won by the most in round 1 would take on the team that got in via the three point contest, and then the other two winning teams would face off in semi-final number two (if the team that won by the most already played the three-point winning team they could instead have the team who won by the second most play that three-point winning team so as to not have any repeat matchups). 

I know the NBA wanted to honour Kobe Bryant with how they formatted their current All-Star Game. I have done the same. In the Finals, instead of a 12 minute game, you would play up to 24. Bam, I’m checking off boxes left and right here. 

Just a quick note on the minutes being played by these guys. In a regular All-Star Game, the top players play 30 or so minutes. In this case, if you made a run all the way to the Finals, you’d be playing the same amount of minutes. Another box checked off. 

So that’s my idea. I know the billion dollar part wouldn’t happen, but maybe put some type of decent money on the line for these guys. Money talks. People like money. These guys make a ton of money so it has to be a sizable chunk of change to make them actually try in this game. You know what, I take back what I said. The billion dollar prize can and should happen. This whole concept falls apart without it. How can you call it The NBA’s Billion Dollar All-Star Division Tournament, and not have a billion dollars on the line? If you’ve been sold on the idea, you can now stop reading. If not, I’ve gone ahead and created a fictional tournament to try to illustrate how awesome it would be. 

Here are the teams. Keep in mind, they’re sort of playing positionless basketball: 

Atlantic:

  • Kevin Durant
  • Joel Embiid
  • Fred VanVleet
  • Jaylen Brown
  • Jayson Tatum
  • James Harden

Central:

  • DeMar DeRozan
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • Jarrett Allen
  • Damontas Sabonis
  • Khris Middleton
  • Zach Lavine

Southeast:

  • Jimmy Butler
  • LaMelo Ball
  • Trae Young
  • Bradley Beal
  • Bam Adebayo
  • Miles Bridges 

Northwest:

  • Donovan Mitchell
  • Nikola Jokic
  • Karl-Anthony Towns
  • Rudy Gobert
  • Anthony Edwards
  • Damian Lillard- HURT, replaced by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 

Pacific:

  • Devin Booker
  • Steph Curry
  • LeBron James
  • Chris Paul
  • Anthony Davis
  • Paul George- HURT, replaced by Deandre Ayton

Southwest:

  • Luka Doncic
  • Kristaps Porzingis
  • Ja Morant
  • Brandon Ingram
  • Dejounte Murray
  • Jaren Jackson Jr.

Round 1 (matchups randomly drawn): 

Southwest vs Northwest

Pacific vs Southeast

Atlantic vs Central 

Matchup 1: 

  • Luka Doncic
  • Kristaps Porzingis
  • Ja Morant
  • Brandon Ingram
  • Dejounte Murray
  • Jaren Jackson Jr.

vs

  • Donovan Mitchell
  • Nikola Jokic
  • Karl-Anthony Towns
  • Rudy Gobert
  • Anthony Edwards
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 

Result:

The Southwest back in the day with Dirk, Duncan, Yao, and all their sidekicks would have dominated this tournament. Now, they’re heavily leaning on the Ja-Luka duo. While it’s certainly a strong pair, the Northwest are too well-rounded for the Southwest to take them down. Jokic plays the role of facilitator, Mitchell scores like he always does, and the bigs, Towns and Gobert score pretty easily against a team that has no answer for them. Northwest wins this one by 4. Kirstaps punches a wall after the game and is out 2-3 months with a broken hand. 

Matchup 2: 

  • Devin Booker
  • Steph Curry
  • LeBron James
  • Chris Paul
  • Anthony Davis
  • Deandre Ayton

vs

  • Jimmy Butler
  • LaMelo Ball
  • Trae Young
  • Bradley Beal
  • Bam Adebayo
  • Miles Bridges 

Result:

The Pacific division is the favourite in this tournament. Almost that whole team will end up in the Hall of Fame one day. They also get to play a pretty weak squad. Ball and Young might be fun to watch together, but Curry and Booker will counteract that pretty easily. Add in the dominance of LeBron and you’ll have the Pacific winning by 8. Sorry Jimmy Butler, no billion dollars for you. 

Matchup 3: 

  • DeMar DeRozan
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • Jarrett Allen
  • Damontas Sabonis
  • Khris Middleton
  • Zach Lavine

vs

  • Kevin Durant
  • Joel Embiid
  • Fred VanVleet
  • Jaylen Brown
  • Jayson Tatum
  • James Harden

Result: 

This one would be hailed as The Greek Freak vs The Slim Reaper. We saw that in last year’s playoffs where Durant was the best player, but Giannis was great in his own right and his team got the win. This time, though, Harden’s a little healthier (his division got to wear black so he looks quite nice), and with Embiid and Tatum helping out, Durant and company take this one by 5. 

3 point contest: 

  • Central: Zach Lavine
  • Southwest: Luka Doncic
  • Southeast: Trae Young

Result:

Although Doncic isn’t a great 3 point shooter, he’s not going to turn down an opportunity to represent his division, especially with Trae Young set to shoot for his squad. With the hype between Doncic taking on Young, it’s actually Lavine who wins it, sending his division into the semis. Trae Young flips off the crowd as he exits. 

Zach LaVine scores 22 in All-Star 3-point contest | Chicago Bulls
Congrats to Zach Lavine, winner of the Billion Dollar Tournament 3 Point Contest.

The semis sets up like this: the team who won by the most takes on the team who won the 3 point contest. However, if they already played in round 1, the team who won by the 2nd most will play the team who won the 3 point contest. 

In this case, it sets up like this: 

1st: Pacific vs. 4th: Central

2nd: Atlantic vs. 3rd: Northwest

Semi Final 1: 

  • Devin Booker
  • Steph Curry
  • LeBron James
  • Chris Paul
  • Anthony Davis
  • Deandre Ayton

vs

  • DeMar DeRozan
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • Jarrett Allen
  • Damontas Sabonis
  • Khris Middleton
  • Zach Lavine

Result:

The Pacific team has too much firepower all over the court. Giannis stuffs the stat sheet, but he simply doesn’t have enough help. The Suns players get their revenge on Giannis for last year’s Finals defeat as the Pacific win this one by 5 and head to the Billion Dollar Finals!

Semi Final 2: 

  • Kevin Durant
  • Joel Embiid
  • Fred VanVleet
  • Jaylen Brown
  • Jayson Tatum
  • James Harden

vs 

  • Donovan Mitchell
  • Nikola Jokic
  • Karl-Anthony Towns
  • Rudy Gobert
  • Anthony Edwards
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 

Result:

The best game so far! End to end action. Gobert acts as the stopper at one end, Embiid at the other. Towns and Embiid relentlessly go after each other. Mitchell hits clutch shots for his side, Durant for his. It comes down to one final shot. Jokic finds Mitchell who swings it over to Edwards, for the win! NO! Edwards can’t hit the big shot, Embiid points at Towns and does a crybaby face, and it’s the Atlantic Division heading to the Finals!

The Finals: 

  • Kevin Durant
  • Joel Embiid
  • Fred VanVleet
  • Jaylen Brown
  • Jayson Tatum
  • James Harden

vs 

  • Devin Booker
  • Steph Curry
  • LeBron James
  • Chris Paul
  • Anthony Davis
  • Deandre Ayton

Result:

It’s been a cake walk for the Pacific to this point, while the Atlantic has fought their way here. At this point the fans start chanting Kobe in honour of the late great Laker. Booker shushes the crowd and reminds them that he is not Kobe Bryant. Out of the corner of his eye he notices the Raptors mascot in attendance and Chris Paul needs to calm him down. It’s game time. 

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both take turns missing shots to start this game and quickly fans take to twitter to ask if these two can play together. Embiid tries to lead the way early, but his 2’s aren’t as useful when the other side has Booker and Curry draining 3’s. Durant and Harden decide it’s time to take over. Durant hits, and Harden misses. This is repeated over and over again. The Pacific Division end up 3 points away from victory. LeBron gets doubled team and swings it over to Curry, who hits the shot for the win! Skip Bayless rage tweets that  MICHAEL NEVER WOULD’VE PASSED ON A CHANCE TO WIN THE GAME and that KEVIN DURANT WAS THE BEST PLAYER ON THE COURT TODAY. Final score 24-19, and the Pacific Division has won the billion dollars! Split six ways each guy takes home a cool $166666666.67. 

LeBron James wins MVP award in 2008 NBA All-Star Game | NIKE LEBRON - LeBron  James Shoes
LeBron James takes home MVP of the the first NBA Billion Dollar All-Star Division Tournament.

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