The NBA announced on Tuesday that it made a big change to the All-Star game by eliminating an East vs. West matchup to have two captains pick teams, playground style.
The voting will still be divided by conference and the players with the most votes in each conference will then select teams from the pool of players. Players voted into the normal starting lineups will be picked first.
The new format is meant to attract more interest in the game and hopefully increase competitiveness in a game that’s largely become lackadaisical.
The picking of the teams should be fun as the two captains will weigh their best routes to win, while also picking players with whom they’re friendly, and, presumably, passing on players they’d rather avoid.
LeBron James is a prime example of some of the potential quandaries the new format is likely to present.
James, likely to be the leading vote-getter in the East and thus one of the captains for this inaugural year, would have some tough choices. Would he dare pick a member of the Golden State Warriors, his biggest rival? Would he pick Kyrie Irving, who requested to leave Cleveland this summer?
Kevin Love was asked this very question on Wednesday — who would James choose between Stephen Curry and Irving — and had a funny response.
“Oooh. It depends, I guess, on how far he’s picked,” Love said. Love then mentioned that James would likely want to pick Dwyane Wade — who recently said he fits with James like peanut-butter and jelly — and the “banana boat crew,” a group comprised of James, Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul, a reference to a vacation photo taken in 2015.
“You know he’s gonna pick — we talked about peanut butter and jelly this week, maybe the banana boat guys, so we’ll see what happens,” Love said. “I know that he’ll have some fun with it … If we need shooting, [Curry and Irving] are there, if we need ball-handling, distributing, both guys are there. That’s tough, that’s a toss-up for me.”
Love added: “It will be interesting to see who picks who. It is an elite fraternity in this league … They will all be picking their teammates or their boys. It will be like out on the black top in grade school back in the day.”
Though Love declined to answer who James would pick, there are plenty of other fun scenarios to imagine around the league. Would Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook pick each other? Would Durant or Westbrook reunite with James Harden? Who will be picked last!?
It’s unclear if the new changes will inspire much more competitive basketball, but at the very least, the team-picking process should be a must-watch event.
Watch Love’s answer below:
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