SAN FRANCISCO — NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Monday he will “take responsibility” for the lack of intensity apparent in recent NBA All-Star Games — a realization he came to after speaking with 13-time All-Star Chris Paul.
Silver, speaking to ESPN’s Andscape, said Paul recently pointed out to him all of the pregame and halftime distractions of the All-Star Game that interfere with the players’ normal game-day routines.
As Paul put it, according to Silver: “You guys tell us how important the All-Star Game is but then you change all our pregame protocols so that we don’t go through our typical routines as we would before a game because you have these elaborate introductions. No complaint about the introductions. We understand why you do it, but then you expect us then to go out and be in the mindset that we’re playing a typical basketball game.”
Silver said Paul also cited the extended halftime, which is several minutes longer than usual to account for game entertainment.
“So that’s why I say, I’ll take responsibility for that,” Silver told Andscape. “We’re sending mixed signals. And if we want guys to treat this like a real game, and again, this is not about Finals intensity, it’s just a fun game. But if we want players to treat it that way, we have to treat it that way. And so, it means that the introduction is going to have to be a little bit shorter and halftime’s going to have to be a little bit more typical, starting in Indianapolis.”
The 2024 NBA All-Star Game will be held Feb. 18 at the Indiana Pacers’ Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Silver said there will be less fanfare during pregame introductions and at halftime to give the players a more normal game experience in hopes of better effort.
At the 2023 NBA All-Star Game, captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo picked teams beforehand in Salt Lake City. After the lengthy process, some of the players had to change locker rooms to join the captain who selected them.
Last month, it was announced that the 2024 edition will return to its traditional Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format. The top vote-getters from both conferences will no longer serve as captains and draft players, a selection process that took place during the past six NBA All-Star Games.
While Silver acknowledged that the return to the old format won’t guarantee more intensity, he is optimistic about a better All-Star Game. Silver added that NBA executive vice president and head of basketball operations Joe Dumars, a six-time NBA All-Star, will also play a big role in impressing upon the All-Stars the importance of giving effort.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re playing lockdown defense,” Silver said. “Maybe it does during the end of the fourth quarter. It means guys come out and say, ‘It’s a game. Let’s go try to win it.’ And again, I think we have to make that message clear to the players.
“I anticipate we’ll still have halftime entertainment. But it won’t be as long. I recognize this is not the Super Bowl. It’s an All-Star Game. It’s a different vibe, and we can still have an entertaining halftime but get the guys back on the floor in a more reasonable time.”
There will also no longer be a target score in the fourth quarter, with the game returning to a standard 12-minute, four-quarter contest.
“When it comes to the [All-Star] Game, we just got to make it clear to everybody involved, coaches included, that we’re looking for a basketball game,” Silver said.
Former Golden State Warriors star Chris Mullin, who attended Monday’s ceremony announcing San Francisco’s Chase Center as the host of the 2025 All-Star Game, played in five All-Star showcases during his Hall of Fame career.
Mullin said the key for those All-Star Games being competitive was having two NBA superstars in Magic Johnson and Larry Bird leading the charge.
“The top guys have to set the standard that’s like Bird and Magic,” Mullin told Andscape. “They didn’t want to give an inch because they were going to see each other in four months [in the NBA Finals].”