BRAD COLE THE ADVOCATE Anyone who has watched an NBA All-Star game in recent years knows that it is not so much a game, but a glorified three-point and slam-dunk contest run over 48 minutes that involves players who are avoiding any contact like the plague.
Basketball lovers like myself still tune in to hopefully see a contest, but are always left mildly disappointed.
But when you can turn an exhibition game featuring the top players into something that has a bit of meaning to it, then it becomes worth watching.
It’s no secret that Tuesday’s game between the North-West Thunder and the NWBU All-Stars was hastily arranged. There was a call-out for interested NWBU players only six days beforehand on social media and just eight players suited up.
The Thunder were far from full strength either due to injuries and pending national training camps, but from what I witnessed at Penguin, the framework is there to make this an annual event.
To start with, the game attracted a larger crowd than your regular NWBU fixture. The interest is clearly there from the basketball public to watch this game.
Secondly, there is something on the line for the players. For the Thunder squad it’s the chance to impress coach Sam Armstrong and push for more court time when the new NBL1 season gets underway. Apart from Hobart, the Thunder struggle to get any decent opposition to play practice games against. There should also be pride on the line to not want to get beaten by a supposedly ‘inferior’ team.
That pride also extends to the NWBU team. Anyone at Tuesday’s game could clearly see Somerset import JP Davis was on a mission to show his talents to a wider audience. Support him with a more talented cast, including some genuine big men, and I guarantee the standard of the game will be attractive.
To produce the best NWBU team, get the word out that the game is happening earlier, give them some proper all-star singlets which they can keep and maybe have some sort of incentive to play.
Thirdly, rotate the game around the clubs with smaller venues. After witnessing what Penguin could manage on short notice, let’s pack out Latrobe, Burnie, Somerset, Wynyard and Smithton like the good old days. Make it a Friday night game as well.
This shouldn’t just be confined to the men either – let’s investigate whether the Launceston Tornadoes want a practice match and have them play against best that the NWBU women’s roster can put together.
Throw a dunk contest and a three-point shootout in there as well during the half-time breaks and you could have a very entertaining night of basketball that has a bit more riding on it than just a regular exhibition game.