Jayson Tatum Sets NBA All-Star Game Record in ‘Worst Basketball Game Ever Played’

  • Team Giannis beat Team LeBron in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game, 184-175
  • The game was played with little-to-no intensity or effort, as usual
  • Jayson Tatum led team Giannis with an All-Star Game record 55 points
  • The NBA has made several changes to the All-Star Game recently to try to improve play
Man holding his head watching a snowy TV
Team Giannis beat Team LeBron in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game in what is being called the worst basketball game of all time. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Fall from greatness

Team Giannis defeated Team LeBron 184-175 in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game amid widespread questioning and criticism.

Denver Nuggets Head Coach Mike Malone, who took the reins of Team LeBron, said the game was “the worst basketball game ever played.” The teams shot a combined 60.8% from the field, significantly higher than the league average of 47.4%

With declining interest in the Slam Dunk Contest, Three-Point Shootout, and Skills Challenge, it is imperative the NBA comes up with more ways to keep All-Star weekend competitive and engaging. Otherwise, it risks losing hold of what was previously one of the most exciting weeks of basketball.

Recapping the night

The NBA All-Star Game started with a bang. Captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo for the first time picked their teams live on stage just minutes before the game tipped off. Giannis selected Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard with the first pick of the reserves, and LeBron took Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid with the first pick of the starters.

Nuggets center and reigning two-time MVP Nikola Jokic comedically picked himself with LeBron’s last pick by running over to his side of the stage while he and Lauri Markkanen were awaiting selection. After the game, Malone revealed that Jokic was unaware that Markkanen was still on the stage, and he thought he was the last to be picked of the starters.

LeBron was 5-0 as a general manager heading into the game. Unfortunately, his night ended prematurely as he injured his hand on a block attempt and did not play in the second half.

an All-Star Game record 55 points on 22-31 (71%) shooting

Giannis also missed all but the opening seconds with a wrist injury suffered in a game just before the All-Star break. That left Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum – the eventual recipient of the Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP award – to score an All-Star Game record 55 points on 22-31 (71%) shooting and 10-18 (55.6%) from beyond the arc. Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell pitched in with 40 points, and Lillard rounded it out with 26.

Despite his teammate’s record-setting performance, fellow Celtics guard Jaylen Brown, playing for Team LeBron, was not impressed with the festivities. 

“That’s not basketball,” Brown said after the game.

All-Star Game in jeopardy? 

The NBA has made several changes to the All-Star Game recently. In 2018, the league began having captains pick teams instead of the traditional East vs. West system it traditionally used.

The game changed again in 2020 with the introduction of the Elam Ending, which requires teams to reach a target score in the fourth quarter instead of being governed by the clock. That score was made 24 points more than what the leading team had at the end of the third quarter in honor of the late Kobe Bryant, who wore #24 for the final ten years of his career.

This year, another change came with the captains picking their teams live in the arena shortly before the game, but despite all of that, the game was still played apathetically. 

the NBA will have an even harder time trying to overhaul its celebratory event

The NFL recently scrapped its annual Pro Bowl game for a celebratory flag football game. Given that there is no equivalent for basketball, the NBA will have an even harder time trying to overhaul its celebratory event.

If there was one positive to come from the weekend, it was Philadelphia 76ers guard Mac McClung’s performance in the Slam Dunk Contest. Three of his four dunks resulted in perfect 50 scores, and he brought back energy and excitement that had been missing from the contest since Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon’s duel in 2016.

Eighteen of the league’s 30 teams return to action on Thursday. Every result is of the utmost importance now as most teams have just over 20 games left on their schedule.

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