NBA players played the first All-Star Game in Boston in 1951. That’s when Boston Celtics owner Walter A. Brown proposed the exhibition game after a college basketball gambling scandal damaged the reputation of the sport. As a result, Brown hoped the game would help restore public confidence in professional basketball.
What’s the story behind the first NBA All-Star game?
The first NBA All-Star Game was played on March 2, 1951, at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Boston Celtics owner Walter A. Brown proposed the idea in the aftermath of a point-shaving scandal that had rocked the college basketball world.
The point-shaving scandal affected college basketball in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This involved players from several high-profile college basketball teams. The players were paid to manipulate the outcomes. They did so by deliberately missing shots or committing fouls to keep the final score within a certain point spread. (The point spread is the predicted margin of victory determined by oddsmakers in Las Vegas. Bettors place wagers on the final score of the game based on this spread.)
In 1951, authorities arrested several players from the City College of New York and charged them with accepting bribes to fix games. That’s what brought the scandal to light. Eventually, players from New York University, Long Island University, and the University of Kentucky also admitted involvement.
The scandal had a significant impact on the sport, damaging the reputation of college basketball and hurting attendance at games. It also led to a crackdown on gambling and corruption in sports and resulted in changes to NCAA rules and regulations to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
How the game has changed
The NBA All-Star Game has changed significantly over the years, evolving from a simple exhibition game to a weekend-long event with multiple events and activities.
The All-Star Game originally featured two teams, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference, competing against each other. However, in 2018, the NBA changed the format to a playground-style draft, with team captains selecting their rosters from the pool of All-Star players.
In the early years of the All-Star Game, the players were selected solely by the coaches of the respective teams. However, in 1974, the NBA began allowing fans to vote for the starting lineups, and today, fans make up 50% of the vote, with players and media members each making up 25%.
In addition to the All-Star Game itself, the weekend now includes a number of skills competitions, such as the Slam Dunk Contest, the Three-Point Contest, a Skills Challenge, a celebrity game, and a Rising Stars Challenge featuring the best young players in the league.
In recent years, the All-Star Game began including a charitable component, with the NBA and its players donating funds to various causes and organizations in the host city. — WTF fun facts