Hit or Miss: How the New CBA Played Out During the 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend

Aisha Jehaludi – NBA All-Star Weekend ideally should be a fan favorite. It’s a weekend filled with the league’s best players showcasing their talent, skills, and iconic slam dunks. However, in recent years, the all-star game has faced immense criticism not only from fans, but also from NBA coaches over a lack of competitiveness. Michael Malone, head coach of the Denver Nuggets, went so far as to call the 2023 NBA All-Star Game the “worst basketball game ever played.”  

Following the 2023 All-Star Weekend, Commissioner Adam Silver took the widespread criticism, 29% ratings decline, and 27% viewership decline into account when negotiating that year’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The CBA is a legally binding agreement between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). The CBA sets out the terms of employment for NBA players every seven years, including an entire article dedicated to the structure of the NBA All-Star Game. 

On July 1, 2023, the current CBA went into effect. It includes key differences in Article XXI, entitled NBA All-Star Game, compared to the previous 2017 CBA. Section 2 includes the most substantial change between the two CBAs, increasing the amount each player on the winning all-star team receives from $50,000 to $100,000. Additionally, first and second place slam dunk finalists receive a $5,000 increase, amounting to $105,000 and $55,000 respectively. The 2023 CBA also awards cash prizes to the top eight contestants in the three-point shootout and skills challenge event. Commissioner Silver expressed the motivation behind increasing the cash prize as a need for “players to play defense, we need them to care about this game.” 

Another change between the two CBAs was the addition of Section 6, entitled All-Star Committee, which states the “NBA and the Players Association shall continue to discuss in good faith matters relating to All-Star Weekend, including the nature, schedule, and format of All-Star events, player participation therein, and award amounts.” This gives the league flexibility in restructuring the all-star game to increase ratings and engage viewers. One of the adjustments made for the 2024 NBA All-Star Game was the revival of the East versus West team structure. However, in terms of participation, the two agreements are identical, in that the players selected for the all-star game are required to attend and participate in the game and must appear in a reasonable number of promotional media events.  

The seventy-third NBA All-Star Weekend took place on February 16th – 18th, 2024, in Indianapolis, Indiana, the first all-star weekend since the new CBA went into effect. However, Commissioner Silver’s goal for a defensive all-star game did not materialize. The 2024 game was the highest scoring game in NBA All-Star history, breaking 200 points for the first time ever with a final score of East 211 – West 186. The game largely showcased offensive skills but lacked any defense despite the $100,000 cash prize for each member of the winning team. Players in the 2024 All-Star Game suggested that the high scores were due to the high level of offensive skill, rather than a lack of defensive effort. Kevin Durant claimed that it is “[h]ard to play defense when somebody is shooting 30, 40-footers.” But again, there was a consensus among viewers following the all-star game that the game had become both unwatchable and unfixable. Despite the vocalized disappointment from fans, the 2024 NBA All-Star Game had 11.6 million viewers tune in, with an average viewership of 5.5 million throughout the game. This is at least a fourteen percent increase in viewership from the 2023 All-Star Game.  

Although the increase in cash prizes did not impact the level of competitiveness, Section 6 of the current CBA grants the All-Star Committee the authority to make necessary adjustments for next year. One popular idea discussed by NBA fans is giving the winning team a home-court advantage in the NBA Finals. This idea could incentivize players, but it could also fail. Players under the current CBA are legally required to play in the all-star game, which, of course, is an honor. But for many players it is not worth risking their health and exposure to injury by playing a defensive game. After the 2024 All-Star Game, Lebron James vocalized this concern saying, “I think the good thing that came out of tonight was none of the players were injured, and everybody came out unscathed.” 

The power now lies in the hands of the NBA All-Star Committee. Will 2025 All-Star Weekend be a hit or miss? 

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