Nielsen on NBA all-star game: A game-time decision

February 24, 2012, 5:29 PM

Why is the NBA insisting on having an all-star break during a lockout-shortened season?

The Raptors played three games in three nights from Jan. 9-11. Home games were sandwiched around a trip to Washington, which turned the back-to-back-to-back match-ups into an even tougher task.

It was a tough road to sled but they got off easy as some NBA squads will have to go through this arduous journey more than once this season.

Who knows how many man games have been lost to injuries caused by the condensed slate this season?

Tough question to ever really answer as players could have been hurt either way but it would seem that injuries would be more likely given the busy slate of contests. Clearly if a player was out for three weeks a year ago, he would have missed less games due to the sheer amount of games each team plays in a week.

That’s doesn’t even factor in how much cash each NBA team lost as 16 games were lopped off the schedule by last fall’s lockout.

So I will repeat the question: Why is the NBA insisting on having an all-star break during a lockout-shortened season?

It seems like a ridiculous notion that we need to play an exhibition game in the middle of a cramped schedule but there are indeed several good reasons. (As a matter of fact, I can think of between 50 and 100 million reasons.)

That’s because the financial impact on the city of Orlando this weekend is expected to fall somewhere between $50 and $100 million. That’s a whole lot of cabbage. Especially for a city like Orlando, whose economy is in need of several shots in the arm.

Since the city was given the game on May 4, 2010, local hotels and businesses have been expecting a huge financial windfall.

The NBA generally rewards cities that have built new arenas for their local clubs, which seems like a major commitment for the league to ignore.

And of course, this game is important for NBA partnerships with sponsors as well.

The NBA gives many of their partners and sponsors the prime seats for the weekend that means many locals will miss taking part in the experience. This is one of the reasons why many teams won’t bid to host the game. Franchises are fearful of upsetting season-ticketholders as they will be pushed up into the nosebleed section due to the influx of celebrities and sponsors.

Someone who has held a courtside seat in Orlando will be pushed back many rows. A risky proposition for clubs as they don’t want to upset their loyal patrons.

We should also never ignore the impact of the boob tube either. (For those of you under the age of 35, boob tube is another way to say TV.)

In the United States, the other major sports leagues are experiencing declining ratings for their annual schmooze-fests whereas the NBA’s midseason match-up’s ratings are headed in the opposite direction.

This also points to another reason why the NBA needs to have the weekend. It helps star players in smaller markets get recognition.

When Vince Carter was with the Raptors or when Jason Richardson suited up for Golden State, would they have been as widely recognized for their talents if they had not participated in the dunk contest?

Yes, this weekend’s dunk contest field is a cast of unknowns but if Chase Budinger (Rockets), Paul George (Pacers), Derrick Williams (T’Wolves) or Jeremy Evans (Jazz) does something spectacular, they will become the talk around officecoolers and coffee shops across the USA next Monday. Would you have any clue who Nate Robinson was if he didn’t win a couple of dunk contests? How about Spud Webb?

So for the City of Orlando, this game is all about dollars and sense whereas for the NBA this game is more about the cents than about the sense.


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