The NBA All-Star game, as is the case with all professional sports, is a highly-publicized yet unimpressive time in the NBA season.
Most fans are more excited for their team to get a break from playing and rest rather than tune into the game and all of its various events.
With nothing ever really on the line for the game, it was a lot of flashy plays, random shots, and zero defense.
There hasn’t really ever been any stakes to it and the whole thing, while fun to watch for the camaraderie between players, wasn’t much of a game.
That changed this season.
With the sudden, tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, the NBA made some key changes. Not only honor the late legend, but also make the game worth something.
The game used to be played as a standard 4-quarter battle like you’d see in any NBA game, but this year, it was so much more.
Some Notable Changes to This Years Game
For the first three quarters of the game, it was a fight for good. Whichever team won the quarter would earn a significant amount of money to be donated to a Chicago-based charity of their choice.
Once the quarter ended, the score would reset and they would fight it out again. This lasted for three of the four quarters. All scores were added up and each team would start at however many points they earned. For the last quarter, it was a race to a specific score.
This was calculated by adding 24 points to the leading team’s score, in this game’s case, that was 157. For those who don’t know: 24 was one of the numbers that Bryant wore during his career.
This new system not only brought a refreshing change to the stale format of the game, but also gave it both emotional weight with its tribute to Kobe and also did a lot of good for charity.
Team Lebron took the first quarter, while Team Giannis battled back to take the second before halftime. By the end of the third, both teams had earned 41 points.
Then came the fourth, and every single player out there looked like they were playing for something. Not only were they trying to earn a win and even more money for their charity, but they also wanted to play hard in honor of the player who inspired everyone on that court.
The quarter was close and that’s not only because of some absolutely stellar offensive plays, also because both teams played hard defense. Defense! The mystical white whale of the All-Star Game was finally here and it was awesome!
While The Finish Was Close, It Was Beautiful
In the end, Team Lebron took the win with a final score of 157-155. Unfortunately, the game ended somewhat anticlimactically with Anthony Davis shooting free throws to get the final point.
We would have loved to have seen something more exciting to win the game, but this didn’t overshadow the fact that the game was so fun to watch.
The NBA also decided to give one more honor to Bryant by renaming the award for Most Valuable Player in the game after him. This award went to Kawhi Leonard, who led the game with 30 points.
Leonard’s play certainly stood out in a game of highlights and players at their peak. His humility expressed by earning the award reminds us of why Kawhi is such a likeable superstar.
An Overall Huge Improvement
Could not be more impressed with how the NBA’s change have improved the All Star Game.
What was once viewed as just a time for players to rest became a truly entertaining event to witness. We hope that other leagues are taking note of what the NBA has done (looking at you, NFL).
One has to admire their creativity in creating a wonderful new format that was fun to watch and also a beautiful tribute to one of the game’s absolute best.
We now begin the race to the playoffs and the Finals. After this weekend, my excitement for the rest of the season could not be higher.