I have soured a bit on Bill Simmons ramblings- er... writings as of late. But this segment in his latest ESPN the Magazine piece is worth of attention. The best sports marketing idea I have heard in some time.
"New Rule: Playground rules for the NBA All-Star Game. Ever since the idea of having captains pick sides started to circulate, in February, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Let's say Stern names Kobe and LeBron as captains. Right before the game we have a coin flip, and the winner gets first pick. The All-Stars line up, and Kobe and LeBron pick their teams playground-style. Imagine the drama. Who'd get picked first? Would a snubbed player end up wreaking havoc in the game? Would bad blood carry over to the rest of the season? God forbid something fun happened on All-Star Weekend."
How cool would that be? Even better would be letting 2 fans be the captains, decided by a raffle-style, free contest on NBA.com and by ballot at NBA games. What NBA fan- neigh- what sports fan would NOT enter this? It would be like the ultimate fantasy league, Xbox NBA Live, fantasy camp, half-court contest at intermission, draft/lottery pick show, All-Star voting hybrid. A sure-fire, guaranteed ploy to lure at least 5% more of the total U.S. population to tune in to at least the opening of the game to see the results.
To paraphrase Simmons- this needs to happen.