The 2017 NBA All-Star Game saw both teams score nearly 100 points in the first half en route to a 192-182 win for the Western Conference. The game featured plenty of highlights and fun moments, but very little defense and when there was actual defense played, it elicited a confused look from the offensive player.
After the game, there were many that lamented the lack of defense, mostly former players who shook their fist at the clouds remembering what it was like back in their day. Reggie Miller, who called the game as an analyst for TNT, was among those most critical of the lack of effort.
Miller went on the Dan Patrick Show on Monday and called out those darn millennials for ruining the All-Star game that was so competitive back in the day.
Here’s the key part of what he said:
“That’s what we saw [Sunday] night was a video game,” Miller said. “It’s all scoring and there’s no defense. So yes, the younger generation, the millennials [say], ‘Oh, that was a fantastic All-Star Game. Guys of our generation, we’re like, ‘This is a joke, this is an absolute joke and mockery of the game.’”
Miller isn’t completely wrong. Sunday night in New Orleans featured even less defensive effort than we usually see out of an All-Star game, but let’s not act as though the All-Star game has long been an exceptionally competitive affair. From 1990-1998 there were three All-Star games that had a single-digit margin of victory, while there were three that had final margins of more than 20 points. In six of the nine games in the ’90s (1999 didn’t have one due to the lockout), the winning team scored more than 130 points.
Defense has never really been part of the All-Star game. It’s always been about putting on a show and getting buckets. That said, Sunday night had a lack of effort on the defensive end that went to an extreme rarely seen and the usual intensity that comes through in a close fourth quarter was non-existent.
This makes for back-to-back years where the winning team has been in the 190s, and even Steve Kerr, who coached the Western Conference, thinks something should probably be done to make it more competitive.
“I think that in the past, at least generally in the fourth quarter, guys have picked it up,” Kerr said after the game. “That’s what I was expecting. It didn’t happen tonight. I would like to see it more competitive. I’m not sure how to do it. It’s up to the players really. … But I think it would be good, it would be good to possibly incentivize the guys somehow. I don’t know if you can maybe get their charities involved or winner-take-all type thing, but I think it’s possible to play a lot harder without taking a charge. We know what silly is out there, if you’re undercutting guys, but it’s almost gone too far the other way where there’s just no resistance at all. I think there’s a happy medium in there somewhere.”
Miller and Kerr’s points are valid on the game lacking intensity and that the game is far more interesting in the fourth quarter when they all actually are trying and it’s close. However, Miller’s point about it being a millennial mindset seems to be a bit misguided. Yes, younger people love the dunks and the threes, but so do most all basketball fans.
Millennials aren’t out here championing what happened Sunday night as some sort of amazing basketball game, and if you ask someone in their 20s, they’ll probably tell you the fourth quarter was completely uninteresting because, despite being close, it was still a lob-fest. Heck, the youngest starting player in the game, Giannis Antetokounmpo was among those that seemed the most bummed out that there wasn’t any defense being played. He was out there stealing the ball from James Harden, dunking all over Steph Curry and generally playing with intensity.
It’s not a millennial issue, it’s a “these guys aren’t trying to risk anything” issue, and how you change that is still an unanswered question.
(h/t Sporting News)