Team LeBron 157-155 Team Giannis was the score of the NBA’s All-Star game last Sunday.
The annual weekend event is nothing short of a sporting spectacle, yet it remains unparalleled by any such competition in the world of football.
The dunk contest, the 3-point tournament and the skills challenge all serve to showcase the talents of those at the summit of basketball.
Surely watching De Bruyne and Neves compete to deliver top bins in a free kick challenge or hit the crossbar would delight many Premier League fans, myself included.
Is anyone faster than Adama, or better at heading than Van Dijk? Who would win in a league-wide tournament of Wembley singles?
These are the competitions that an All-Star Premier League weekend could answer; theoretical scenarios that would leave many spectators salivating.
Why then, has this not occurred?
One of the foremost arguments used is due to the increased demands it would put on the already arguably over-stretched players.
Unlike most foreign sides, Premier League teams can play up to 60 games in a single season.
As such, the appetite of Susanna Dinnage, the new Chief Executive of the Premier League, to add to this, may not be so great – especially since a winter break has just been introduced to combat this very issue.
However, my proposal would include scrapping FA Cup replays, likely decreasing the net playing time of stars.
Seemingly, the only complaints that this would cause would be from small, low-league sides, who receive vast revenue when they travel to face a top division giant.
This could in turn be resolved if, in the 3rd, 4th and 5th round, any Premier League side is allocated to play a side from League One or lower, they are automatically drawn at home.
Now, this is more than merely a format change, as it could be debated to be unfair and therefore, I feel that all the 20 Premier League and 72 EFL clubs should be allowed to vote on it.
However, with costly injuries avoided for big clubs and revenue guaranteed for smaller clubs, I believe that this proposition would have a good chance of being passed.
Admittedly, the sight of seeing Son dribble around defenders in a 4,000-capacity stadium is a sight that I would miss, but I do not entertain the argument that it denies locals the opportunity to see big players performing.
All those who buy tickets to see their team know that the huge games are almost impossible to get without overpaying or having a season ticket.
As a result, those few thousand home fans in the ground are almost certainly comprised of the same committed individuals who would travel to a Premier League away day.
There is recent precedent for such changes, with extra-time scrapped for all rounds in the Carabao Cup – except the final – and the away goal rule ditched from the semi-final, with level ties going straight to penalties.
If the same was done for all FA Cup rounds preceding the quarter final stage, player injuries and fatigue would be reduced and there would be a greater chance, in theory, of historic cup upsets, for penalties are far less predictable in their outcome.
Consequently, the games would likely also be played at a higher pace, with less stamina management occurring, with teams fighting hard to avoid penalties, without the safety back-up of extra-time or a replay leg.
To purists who do not want their traditional domestic cup format to be meddled with, I would use the Nations League (which replaced some international friendlies) to illustrate that certain changes in football – not getting into the debacle that is VAR – can actually make the game better.
The new format of the NBA All-Star game saw each quarter serve as a mini-game, in which the victorious team earned a donation to their chosen charity.
The same could be applied to a half of football, with the charitable element encouraging players to put everything into the game.
It certainly worked in the NBA, with both teams clearly wanting the win, finishing the game with 4 of their 5 starters on the court.
The All-Star MVP, alongside the regular season award, is coveted in the basketball community and surely individuals like Bernardo would relish the opportunity to claim a trophy that shows that he is the league’s best.
These aforementioned donations could be put into grassroots football, with the other revenue generated divided amongst the teams without a representative in the All-Star game, to give them a greater opportunity to achieve representation in future years, avoiding repeat dominance from the ‘big 6’.
Another NBA alteration, albeit one that was made a few years earlier, deals with the practicality issues that could arise in translating an All-Star game to Premier League football.
For many, including Romelu Lukaku in his infamous tweet on the matter, the match would be for the bragging rights of the country’s perennial north-versus-south divide, much like the NFL Pro Bowl (which pits the NFC against the AFC).
However, while a recent survey showed people are much more likely to assign the Midlands to the North than the South, the majority said that they were part of neither (including the Midlanders themselves).
Therefore, allocation of teams such as Wolves and Aston Villa would prove challenging.
The new NBA format where the 2 players with the most votes are team captains and choose their players, much like you would tend to do down the park with your mates, tackles this issue.
This would result in the enticing prospect of teammates lining up against one another in a true battle of the very best.
Admittedly, with football bigger globally than the NFL and the NBA put together, such changes are more desired than needed.
However, an All-Star weekend would both be easy and quick to implement, not requiring significant change to the footballing calendar.
One could and should be introduced.