Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Western Conference and James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets and the Western Conference warm up before the NBA All-Star Game 2016 at the Air Canada Centre on Feb. 14, 2016 in Toronto.
NEW YORK — The NBA is scrapping the East vs. West format for its All-Star Game and will have captains pick teams this season.
The league said Tuesday that the leading vote-getter from each conference will choose teams from the pool of players who were voted as starters and reserves.
The change will begin with this season’s game in Los Angeles on Feb. 18.
Players and league officials have been eager to inject new interest in the often defense-absent game, and they decided to act after another dull affair last February in New Orleans.
“I’m thrilled with what the players and the league have done to improve the All-Star Game, which has been a priority for all of us,” National Basketball Players Association president Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to putting on an entertaining show in LA.”
The sides worked closely — with Charlotte owner Michael Jordan, chairman of the league’s Labor Relations Committee, heavily involved in the conversations — and chose a format that has been used by the NFL and NHL for what will be the first NBA All-Star Game that doesn’t pit the Eastern Conference against the Western Conference.
The 10 starters will continue to be chosen by a combination of fan, player and media balloting, with the coaches from each conference then selecting the 14 reserves. The captains will then draft their teams at an undetermined time — making certain that those chosen starters are split up so they remain starters.
The teams will play for charity. They will select either a Los Angeles-area or national organization for donations to go.
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