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NBA returning to East-West All-Star Game format

MANILA, Philippines — The NBA All-Star Game may soon return to an East vs. West format.

Commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday in a televised interview on ESPN that changes are coming to the All-Star Game – and while stopping short of saying any decision has been finalized, he hinted that the current format of top vote-getters serving as captains and drafting their own teams may be shelved.

“Maybe a return to something more traditional, in terms of how the teams are presented,” Silver said in the interview on ESPN’s “First Take” program. “We went to sort of this captain-draft notion, but clearly, historically, it was East vs. West, so that’s something we are looking at.”

This season’s All-Star Game is at Indianapolis on Feb. 18. The league has not yet announced any format changes.

The first 66 All-Star Games all had the East vs. West format. The last six have seen the leading vote-getters from each conference serve as captains who got to draft their teams; LeBron James served as one of the captains all six times, with Giannis Antetokounmpo the other captain three times, Kevin Durant twice and Stephen Curry once.

The last four All-Star Games have used a target score at the end of games, ensuring that the matchup ends on a made shot. Fourth quarters have been untimed; the winner is the first team to reach whatever the leading team had after three quarters, plus 24 points – the 24 is a nod to Kobe Bryant’s last jersey number.

The first year of the target score format saw a fourth quarter that was incredibly dramatic. Last season’s game, however, was almost completely uncompetitive and became a disaster in terms of television ratings – in part because some of the biggest names like James, Antetokounmpo, Durant and Curry all missed much or all of the All-Star Game because of injury.