Carter Hall, Contributing Writer |
The NBA held its annual All-Star weekend Feb. 14-16. NBA All-Star weekend includes events such as the three-point competition, dunk competition and the skills challenge. These events showcase the league’s excellence through various competitions. However, the main event of the weekend was the All-Star game. Due to new formatting, All-Star teams are selected by captains chosen by the fans. Players from the Eastern and Western Conference that got the most votes earned the right to become a captain. This year’s captains were LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwakuee Bucks.
Remarkably, many players who were voted All-Stars this season were awarded the honor for the first time. Players such as Bam Adebayo, Domantas Sabonis and Trae Young have had spectacular seasons thus far and participated in their first All-Star weekend.
This year’s All-Star game was significantly different from the past. NBA commissioner Adam Silver made several changes to the format of the game, in order to honor the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant who tragically passed away earlier this year in a helicopter crash along with eight others. Bryant played 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, and after his career, he continued to train young up-and-coming stars such as Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell and others. Due to his contribution to the game on and off the court, he was honored league-wide in this year’s All-Star game.
Formatting changes included starting each of the first three quarters at a score of 0-0. Then, the team that won each quarter donated $100 thousand to the charity of the captain’s choice, for a total of $300 thousand in donations. Following these three quarters, the scores would be added for each team. The team with the most points through three quarters would add 24 points, in honor of Bryant, to that score, which would become the target score. Therefore, the final quarter is then played without a game clock and whichever team reaches the target score first is victorious.
Players and fans agreed—the new format was a huge improvement. Though the first three quarters lacked defensive highlights as usual, players locked down in the fourth. Players knew exactly how many points they had to score and just how many they could give up. The first and second quarters were not as close, as Team LeBron won the first and Team Giannis took the second. However, the third quarter ended in a draw. The fourth quarter held all the entertainment, as players made highlight reel plays one after another. In the end, it was Team LeBron who came back to beat Team Giannis 157-155. Overall the game was much more entertaining and competitive than in years past.
Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers scored 30 points, including eight three-pointers. Leonard took home the All-Star MVP award, which was renamed this season to the Kia NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award as an act of generosity and remembrance for an icon, legend and true inspiration to millions around the world.