Perhaps the only thing the NHL does better than its basketball counterpart is the skills competition. Realizing there are only so many times you can watch Al MacInnis or Zdeno Chara win the hardest shot, the league stages the night as a team event—first Wales vs. Campbell, then East vs. West, North America vs. the World, and most recently, a fantasy draft-style showdown. It gives viewers a rooting interest, something that's hard to capture on a weekend of celebrating individuals.
The NBA's taking a page from the NHL. No longer will All-Star Saturday be three hours of pointless games and cameos from WNBA players, capped off by a disappointing dunk contest. Now the players will be competing for their conferences, with points awarded and a winning team being decided at the end of the night. From an NBA press release:
As part of the new format, points earned by each conference throughout the four All-Star Skills Competitions will determine the conference that earns the title of 2013 State Farm All-Star Saturday Night Champion. Also, each conference will have an All-Star Saturday Night captain who will lead his team during the event.
State Farm All-Star Saturday Night, an all-inclusive skills showcase, will take place on Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Toyota Center in Houston and will be televised live by TNT at 8 p.m. ET. The event consists of the Shooting Stars, a competition featuring NBA players, WNBA players, and NBA legends; the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, a contest of top guards working against the clock to complete a series of passes, free throws, layups and agility drills; the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest; and the Sprite Slam Dunk contest.
As an Eastern Conference guy, this means I will feel slightly worse about going out and not watching Kyle Korver chuck threes.