New NBA All-Star Game Format Lives Up To Hype As Team Lebron Defeats Team Giannis 157-155
Written by Brandon Lewis on February 17, 2020
Photo credit: ultiworld.com
Two years ago, the NBA decided to change the All-Star Game format. No longer would the best players from the East be going up against the best players from the West. Instead, the top vote leaders from each conference would draft a team and play against each other. If you recall, I liked the idea at the time and still stand by it.
This year, the NBA decided to change the way the entire game was played, not only in honor of the late Kobe Bryant, but to hopefully bring back the competitiveness that the All-Star Game has lacked for what feels like the last decade.
The rules were that each team would pick a charity in the Chicago area to donate to. After the first and second quarters, the score would reset back to 0-0. Whoever won each quarter would guarantee that their charity would receive $100,000.
For the fourth quarter, there would be no game clock. Instead, there would be a “target score”, calculated by taking the total score of the team that was winning the game at the end of the third and adding 24 points in memory of Bryant. The first team to get to that score would win the game. For example, if the winning team had 100 total points at the end of the third quarter, then the target score would be set at 124, and the team that scored 124 points first would win the game.
On my show, I questioned this format. I did not think Bryant would appreciate the format as it felt like a joke to me, and Bryant always played the All-Star Game as hard as anybody.
Boy was I wrong, especially when it came to the fourth quarter.
For the first three quarters, it was your typical NBA All-Star Game replayed for the 69th time. Team Lebron got off to a hot start, shooting 9-15 from the 3-point line, including Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard hitting six of the nine, to give Team Lebron a 12 point edge going into the second.
Then in the second, “The Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 16, and his team caught fire, taking Team Lebron to the woodshed, outscoring them 51-30 to take a nine point lead into half. This all happened with little to no defense and a lot of alley-oops.
The third quarter finished with a 41-41 tie, meaning that the $100,000 would roll into the fourth. However, the story of the third was that both teams with under 20 seconds left took timeouts to try to gain the lead to win the quarter. That sequence showed that the teams cared.
Then we got to the fourth, and it was nothing but a good ol’ fashion basketball game ladies and gentleman. There were fouls galore, players complaining, fans getting excited, benches getting hyped, challenges, drama and everything in between. It felt like a regular season game.
In the closing moments, Team Lebron had the lead 156-155, meaning the All-Star Game could end on a walkoff free throw, an unthinkable event. With a little bit under 10 seconds on the shot clock Lebron James would toss the ball into the post to his Laker teammate Anthony Davis. Davis’ arm was grabbed by Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, who was playing aggressive defense all night, including taking a charge in the fourth. Nick Nurse and Team Giannis would unsuccessfully challenge the call.
Davis, a 84% free throw shooter this season, would go to the line and miss the first free throw, giving Team Giannis a slim chance of hope. Davis would nail the second, clinch the game for Team Lebron and give me and NBA fans everywhere a chance to breathe after a intense fina period.
The All-Star Game MVP Award, now named the Kobe Bryant MVP Award, was given to a man who idolized Bryant growing up in nearby Southern California: Leonard, who after his six 3-pointers in the first, finished with eight 3’s and 30 overall points.
Before the game, the NBA did an amazing tribute to Bryant and late Commissioner David Stern. During the game, Team Lebron wore No. 2 to honor Bryant’s daughter Gianna while Team Giannis wore No. 24 to honor Bryant himself. Both teams wore patches in memory of all the people that passed away on that horrific day of Jan. 26.
As stated above, I questioned the format going into this year’s game. I did not think the format was going to solve the All-Star Game, nor did I think Bryant would like the style. I’m glad I was wrong. Even if it was only for one quarter, that was one heck of a quarter to sit and enjoy.
Going forward, I hope the 2020 NBA All-Star Game sets a precedent for future All-Star Games, and I hope that one day, the game returns back to its glory days. Sunday was a good start, but there’s still a lot of business left to take care of.
Brandon Lewis is the Web Director for Black Squirrel Radio. Follow him on Twitter @brandonlewis_7. Tune in to his show, “Brandon’s World” every Wednesday from 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. on blacksquirrelradio.com and follow his show Twitter @real_bworld.