The NBA All-Star Game has been known as a dunk fest with no defense over the course of the past two decades. With the 2020’s rolling in, maybe there would be a change in vision.
For three quarters it was more of the same, with 49 combined dunks between Team LeBron and Team Giannis. But then something changed in quarter number four. There was only two dunks allowed as players were playing playoff caliber defense and Kyle Lowry was constantly hitting the deck taking charging fouls. Team LeBron would edge out Team Giannis with a final score of 157-156, capped off by a game winning free throw by Anthony Davis.
— NBA (@NBA) February 17, 2020
To explain this, and more importantly to see if we can expect more dramatic conclusions in future all-star games, we need to break down what inspired the players to perform this way.
This year, NBA commissioner Adam Silver decided it was time to change the way the all-star game would be played. He set up a unique format where each quarter would start at zero, with the winner of each quarter earning $100,000 for a charity of the captain’s choice. The final quarter was played without a game clock and the winner of that quarter would earn $300,000 for their charity.
— Chicago Scholars (@ChicagoScholars) February 17, 2020
The target score was determined by however many total points the leading team had through three quarters. Then as a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant, that number would be added to 24, to determine the final score.
The NBA announced today a new format for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game that makes the outcome of every quarter count for charity. The changes include a new fourth-quarter format that will honor the late Kobe Bryant.
— NBA (@NBA) January 30, 2020
In Chicago the pregame speeches and performances laid out the groundwork for how the tributes to the late Kobe Bryant and former NBA Commissioner David Stern would go. Before the game, it was announced that the NBA All-Star Game MVP Award would be named after Kobe Bryant. Magic Johnson gave a five minute speech about what they meant to the game, while the players in the all-star game were standing beside him. Then Jennifer Hudson sang her tribute to Kobe Bryant.
And then of course there were all the Chicago performers, such as Chance the Rapper, who gave their all to show off their Chicago pride and respect for these NBA players.
In honor of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant, Team Giannis wore jerseys with the number 24 and Team LeBron wore jerseys with the number 2, which was Gianna’s jersey number. All of these players were impacted by Bryant in one way or another and they wanted to do all they could to honor his legacy.
JUST IN: Final design of Team LeBron & Team Giannis jerseys for @NBA All-Star Game. LeBron’s team all wearing #2 for Gianna Bryant, Giannis’ team wearing #24 for Kobe. Memorial patches for 9 who passed in helicopter crash, band in memory of former commissioner David Stern. pic.twitter.com/5TncENo5CU
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 12, 2020
Players Showcasing Greatness:
The performances by the players in this game were spectacular. The box score was stuffed with three point attempts and flashy dunks. Kawhi Leonard (30 pts, 7 reb, 4 ast) lead the charge for Team LeBron and took home the first Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP Award.
— NBA (@NBA) February 17, 2020
LeBron James and Chris Paul both finished with 23 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo lead his team with 25 points in 31 minutes played.
The past few seasons for the NBA have been full of innovative changes that will keep the fans engaged in all activities, especially the all-star game. This year took the cake, as Adam Silver found the perfect formula for an entertaining all-star game. There were still plenty of crazy three pointers and elite dunks, but seeing legit defense in the final quarter was as exciting as a championship level game. This should be the format moving forward in order to keep the NBA levels above all other professional leagues and their “all-star” games.
— NBA (@NBA) February 19, 2020