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NBA changes All-Star Game format, including Kobe Bryant tribute

Kobe Bryant was built for All-Star Games.

Perennially selected, he felt so comfortable on that stage. Fellow stars deeply admired him. And he had the talent and showmanship to rise above everyone else, winning four All-Star Game MVPs (tied with Bob Pettit for most ever).

The NBA found a fitting – and highly complex – way to honor Bryant at this year’s All-Star Game.

NBA release:

In the 69th NBA All-Star Game, Team Giannis and Team LeBron will compete to win each of the first three quarters, all of which will start with the score of 0-0 and will be 12 minutes long.  At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the game clock will be turned off and a Final Target Score will be set.

The Final Target Score will be determined by taking the leading team’s total cumulative score through three quarters and adding 24 points – the 24 representing Bryant’s jersey number for the final 10 seasons of his NBA career.  The teams will then play an untimed fourth quarter and the first team to reach the Final Target Score will win the NBA All-Star Game.

For instance, if the cumulative score of the first three quarters is 100-95, the Final Target Score would be set at 124 points.  To win the NBA All-Star Game, the team with 100 points would need to score 24 points in the fourth quarter before the team with 95 points scores 29 points, and vice versa.  With no minimum or maximum time on the clock in the fourth quarter, the NBA All-Star Game will end with a made basket or a made free throw.

As part of NBA All-Star 2020, more than $1 million will be contributed to Chicago community non-profit organizations through NBA Cares outreach efforts.  These efforts will culminate during the NBA All-Star Game when each team will play for a Chicago-based charity beneficiary, as selected by team captains Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The community organization selected by the winner of each of the first three quarters will receive $100,000 – a total of $300,000 donated to charity for those three quarters.  The winner of each of the first three quarters will be the team with the higher score at the end of the 12-minute quarter.

The winning team in the NBA All-Star Game (i.e., the team that reaches the Final Target Score first) will earn $200,000 for its community organization.

If the first or second quarter ends in a tie, the $100,000 charity award for that quarter will be added to the next quarter’s award.  If the third quarter ends in a tie, the $100,000 charity award for that quarter will be added to the award of the team that wins the NBA All-Star Game.

If one team wins each of the first three quarters and reaches the Final Target Score first, $500,000 will be donated to the winning team’s charity and $100,000 will be donated to the losing team’s charity.

I’d advise anyone not connected to the involved charities to ignore the alterations covering the first three quarters. The NBA can donate money however it pleases. Actually resetting the scoreboard during the game only makes this needlessly complicated and risks alienating fans who are just trying to follow the game.

Start with the fourth quarter for the significant change. Every point scored in the first three quarters counts. The winning team will be the first to score 24 more points – to honor Bryant – than the leading team had entering the fourth quarter. So, there’s no game clock in the fourth quarter.

This is a version of what The Basketball Tournament enacted, and I generally like the format. Every game has a game-winning/game-ending shot. And there’s no more intentionally fouling to extend games. That can be a real drag. Because time can’t run out, a team can always go on a run.

However, the All-Star game rarely includes intentionally fouling late, anyway. So, this exhibition probably won’t gain the biggest benefit from the change.

Just 24 points from the leader’s scorer will likely make for a quick fourth quarter, especially with All-Star pace. In an era promoting rest, that’s a feature, not a bug.