The Rising Stars game is an opportunity to see the best first and second year NBA players (or third year if we all agree to ignore the year that Ben Simmons didn’t play).
A few years ago, in a nod to the number of non-American players in the league, the NBA moved from an East v West format to a USA v World format. The players are selected by the coaches; there is no fan involvement in selection and they don’t sell replica rising stars jerseys. In a lot of ways this game is the poor cousin of the Sunday night All Star game.
This year, it was a member of team World who was tipped to be MVP – Luka Doncic. However, this is still an All Star game where players want to show off and it seems that no-one values defence so Luka had a less than inspiring night while other players seemed determined to keep the ball to make the shots (though not attempt any threes).
This game was fairly entertaining but as always in the last few minutes the players started mucking about going for dunks. Sure dunks are entertaining but I wanted to see a game. If the players could be incentivised to treat this as a game that matters I think the quality of the performances would increase and the fans would get more into the game.
Part of the issue is that you are not really supporting a team. You are supporting a player (maybe two depending on your NBA team) so you want to see that player do well, make the cool shots and generally increase the hype around him. That does not make for good team play.
With each year that goes by the price of the tickets increases making it increasingly difficult for people to afford which was apparent by the attendance on Friday night.
The Rising Stars game is a good idea but the format needs to force some real competitiveness to keep the fans interested.