The newly revamped NBA All-Star Game did NOT disappoint in the slightest. In fact, the new rule changes turned a 2019 game that lacked effort or enjoyment into a 2020 game that had the eyes of the NBA world literally glued to television screens.
In what was arguably the best NBA All-Star Game played ever (by far best in recent memory), Team Giannis and Team LeBron battled it out all the way until the final shot in a 157-155 thriller. The first three 12-minute quarters were of familiar territory, as the stars dazzled fans by launching 35-foot threes, lobbing crazy alley-oop attempts and throwing down thunderous dunks. While defense has lacked severely in the past decade-plus in the old format of play, the fourth quarter defense in 2020 set the stage for an all-time classic basketball game. Team LeBron trailed Team Giannis 124-133 at the start of quarter four, igniting the race to 157 points for the title (24 points were added on to the leading team’s score to honor the late Kobe Bryant).
Bodies flew, and charges were taken while double-teams and switches dominated what seemed like scenes straight out of Hollywood. There was a ‘Game 7 of the NBA Finals’ feel to what was unfolding, and everyone both on and off the court knew it.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 17, 2020
Team LeBron came back in a fury, outscoring Team Giannis 33-22 in the race to 157 to win the first All-Star Game under the new format. Kawhi Leonard took home the first-ever ‘Kobe Bryant’ MVP Award, finishing with 30 points and an unconscious eight 3-pointers in Team LeBron’s victory. There will most definitely be a few tweaks moving forward (Anthony Davis hitting a game-winning free throw will most likely prompt a ‘must score a field goal to win’ rule), but the league has now discovered a way for the players to care and have incentive while also doing amazing things for charity.
Both teams were playing for different charities founded within the city of Chicago. Team LeBron raised $400,000 for Chicago Scholars, while Team Giannis raised $100,000 for ‘After School Matters’ during the game. On Monday afternoon, Antetokounmpo stated via Twitter that he would donate another $100,000 to the charity his team played for to support the Chicago non-profit. It’s clear that the new format inspired the generation of leaders the NBA currently has, and I believe they’ll tweak this format just a tad to make it stronger and just as charitable in 2021.