CHARLOTTE – For the first time in NBA history, All-Star rosters each have 13 players.
Don’t expect that to be a permanent change.
Don’t expect it never to happen again, either.
In addition to the five starters chosen by fans, players and media and the seven reserves selected by coaches, NBA commissioner Adam Silver named Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki extra All-Stars.
“I didn’t think about it in terms of the next year or whether there will be other opportunities,” Silver said. “I think that, as a league, I like to think we have the flexibility, when there are special occasions.”
Except 1971-73, when they went a whopping 14 deep, All-Star rosters have had 10, 11 or 12 players. It’d been 12 the last 36 All-Star games.
Meanwhile, the league has grown larger than ever. There are now 30 teams.
The result: It’s harder than ever for players to become All-Stars.
The NBA should use adding Wade and Nowitzki as a springboard to keeping All-Star rosters at 13 players. Going forward, the extra spot should go to someone deserving based on their current play, not used as a lifetime achievement award. Two players snubbed annually now usually deserve All-Star status based on historical standards.
Plus, 13-player All-Star rosters would match regular-season active rosters, which expanded to 13 in 2011. Most current players have spent their entire career with 13-player active rosters. It has become strange to have just 12 in the All-Star game.
But Silver – who once said he supported expanding All-Star rosters – views this as a “special occasion.”
“I thought it was a very unique situation in which you had two NBA champions, two NBA players who had long, fantastic careers, both of whom had been All-Stars multiple times in their career,” Silver said, “and both of whom, in the case of Dwyane Wade, had already announced it was going to be his last season. In the case of Dirk Nowitzki, I saw him painfully running up and down the court, and I think it was clear that this was going to be his last season. And it just seemed like a wonderful opportunity to honor two greats.”
Whoa, that is harsh about Nowitzki. (Also accurate.)
This is a nice honor for Wade and Nowitzki. But it’s also an opportunity to normalize 13-player All-Star rosters.
Hopefully, the NBA isn’t slow to seize it.