What To Expect From The 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend

The 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend promises to be different from recent editions. Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum takes us through the changes.

NBA All-Star 2024 is set for Feb. 18-20 (19-21 in Manila) with the Indiana Pacers hosting the festivities at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The three-day extravaganza will have its usual staples such as the skills challenge, 3-point shootout, dunk contest and the main event, the 73rd NBA All-Star Game. The All-Star break comes at a time when the league is seeing unprecedented scoring talent, as well as the continued emergence of foreign-born stars.

What can NBA fans expect from this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend? Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum discussed this during a recent call with international media. Here are some of the highlights.

Going back to tradition

In recent years, the NBA All-Star Game itself has become an all-offense, no-defense affair, with very little teamwork and scores reaching unreal levels. The format has also shifted away from the traditional East vs. West to Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis, which wasn’t necessarily a hit among fans.  

Tatum said this year’s theme aims to address these issues.

“We’re incredibly excited to carry this momentum into All-Star Weekend this weekend which will take place in the historic and passionate basketball market of Indianapolis,” he said. “In keeping with this season’s theme of really going back to basketball this year’s activities are going to be rooted in tradition and we expect that that will resonate with our fans and with our players throughout the various All-Star events. Most notably as you all are aware, we’re returning to the East versus West format for the All-Star Game and we’ve made a number of other tweaks to the weekend schedule that we think will make for a more competitive game.

“In other words, we’re going to go back to treating this more like a game. The feedback that we heard from some of the players is that the halftimes were too long, the intros were too long. So we want to get more of a normal timings around a regular season game so that the players can get into game mode in a way that they normally would.”

Translated, this means less pomp and more competitive basketball. Tatum went on to explain:

“After last year’s All-Star Game, some of the feedback that we heard from the fans and quite frankly from the players is that it was not very competitive.

“We don’t want anyone getting hurt, but we want it to be a competitive game because that’s what I think the fans tune in to see. They tune in to see the best players in the world but they want to see them actually competing and playing. And so we got away from that and behind the scenes immediately we started having conversations with the players.

We’re in constant dialogue with them. they’re our partners in growing this league and grow the business and I think right away even those players that participated in the game sort of understood that, ‘Okay this got a little bit out of hand we need to get back to more of a competitive game.”

As for reverting to the old format, Tatum further explained:

“I think fans like the picks and the captain’s picks, but quite frankly if you think about it the teams didn’t know who they were playing with until five minutes before the tip-off. Now, going back to East versus West, you know who your teammates are, you get to practice with your

team on Saturday, you get to build that bond.”

Going global (including a Filipino player)

The NBA has always prided itself in embracing globalization, and this year’s All-Star Weekend is no exception.

“Our global reach will be on full display throughout the weekend,” Tatum said. “Whether it be the 15 international participants in the entire weekend’s events, our Basketball Without Borders Global Camp for the top prospects from outside the US, the fact that fans in more than 200 countries and territories will tune into the action in 60 different languages. This will be my

25th year in the NBA and it really is amazing to see the growth of this global game and the league. In fact, I’m proud to say that even after all these years that basketball is the fastest growing sport in the world.”

Speaking of Basketball Without Borders, Filipino guard Andy Gemao will join Kai Sotto and AJ Edu as the only Filipinos to have received an invite to the BWB Global Camp, which has been a side event of the All-Star Weekend for several years now. Gemao has been training in the United States since last year, and his participation in the BWB Global Camp shows that his hard work has paid off.

“I think it’s incredible,” Tatum said of Gemao’s BWB invite. “I think to have a player like Andy there is gonna give him that exposure to some of the best players in the world. Our experience is, is the way that you get better is that you measure up and you play against the best in the world. I think that’s a great opportunity for a player like Andy to really get exposure. This global camp is really for the top 40 players, high school age, that we’ve seen all around the world. And I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for Andy.”

Tatum is well aware of basketball’s popularity in the Philippines, so he understands the significance of Gemao’s BWB participation.

“The Philippines has had a great run. There’s no doubt how much they love the game of basketball in the Philippines. I thought they were an incredible host for the FIBA World Cup, and they put on a great show and the fans really, really loved it.”

Steph vs. Sabrina

The newest event for this All-Star Weekend is truly one-of-a-kind. For the first time ever, an NBA player and a WNBA player will face off in a 3-point competition. And it’s not just any NBA player or WNBA player. Steph Curry, two-time MVP and one of the best shooters ever, goes up against Sabrina Ionescu, who set a WNBA record in last year’s WNBA 3-point shootout.

“I’m so excited,” Tatum said. “What I expect is a great competition. So Stephen vs. Sabrina, first time ever. You’ve got the greatest 3-point shooter in NBA history going up against one of the greatest 3-point shooters in WNBA history. Her performance in the WNBA All-Star Game last year of 37 points in the 3-point competition really spurred this competition between Steph and Sabrina. So we said, ‘Let’s bring it to the All-Star stage.’”

More innovations

The NBA has always been at the forefront of change and innovation, and this year’s All-Star Weekend is no exception. Fans will notice a different type of court for some events.

“One of the unique things about All-Star this year will be some of the Friday night and Saturday night events will take place at the American football stadium, the Lucas Oil Stadium, and we’re gonna have an LED court which FIBA used in one of their competitions,” Tatum said. “But this is the first time that the NBA is gonna use it in our competition. I think that will create a more immersive experience for the fans. We’re gonna show videos and action on the court. I think it’s gonna be a fun thing for the fans.”

As for the future, Tatum hinted at yet another new format, which could lead to the first player of Filipino heritage participating.

“We’re always looking at how we can improve the All-Star Game and create an opportunity for the fans to really enjoy it. I would say one of the concepts that’s been floating around is the USA vs. the rest of the world as an example. I think that there will be a time when that will make a lot of sense for us. The fact that we have 15 international players who are from 13 different countries participating in the event does speak to the international presence.”

Banner image courtesy of NBA Philippines.

What It’s Like For These Filipinos to Play With an NBA All-Star

Erik Spoelstra: The NBA Legend Who Looks Like Me

Which NBA Teams Have The Biggest Fanbases In The Philippines?