The 2020 NBA All-Star Game’s new format, and tribute to Kobe Bryant, explained

The NBA is changing the format of its 2020 All-Star Game to spice up the competitiveness of the event and honor Kobe Bryant. After years of criticism over the game’s fading audience, the league’s made numerous new rules.

Here’s what’s new:

The first three quarters of the 2020 All-Star Game will have the score reset after each 12-minute period. Team LeBron and Team Giannis will compete to win each frame at a score of 0-0. The winner of each quarter will earn $100,000 for their charity, with ties resulting in the money being added to the following quarter.

The score resets after each quarter, but the cumulative total still matters. In the fourth quarter, the teams’ scores from the first three quarters will be added up, and the final score a team needs to reach to win the game will be determined by adding 24 points (Bryant’s jersey number) to the highest score’s total. There will be no game clock in the final frame. The first team to hit that point total wins.

If that was a lot and it was hard for you to understand, it’s because the new format is confusing as hell. So let’s go a step further.

Here’s an example:

Let’s start with the beginning of the game.

  • If Team LeBron scores 30 points and Team Giannis scores 25 in the first quarter, Team LeBron’s charity of choice wins $100,000.
  • In quarter two, the score resets to 0-0. So Team Giannis could outscore Team LeBron by the same score, 30-25, and they’d win $100,000 for their charity.
  • In quarter three, the same thing happens. Let’s say Team LeBron outscores Team Giannis, 30-25 again. Team LeBron wins $100,000 for charity once again.
  • In the fourth quarter, the score from the first three quarters will be added up. In this case, Team LeBron is leading Team Giannis, 85-80. Instead of a 12-minute game clock, the teams will play to a score. In this case, we take 85 points, as the leading score, and add 24 points, to honor Bryant. So the first team to 109 points wins the game.

If that isn’t a sufficient explainer, I am sorry. But the changes are confusing a whole lot of people:

So will the All-Star Game be better for these rules?

I mean, maybe. The first three quarters are bound to be confusing, but in the fourth quarter playing to a score, rather than a game clock, will give the game more of a pick-up feel. That’s interesting! And reduces the need to foul late in the game. Teams will have to play defense to win.

Is the change enough to matter? Probably not. On the whole it feels complicated and difficult to understand.

But hey, it’s the best men’s basketball players in the world on one court. How bad could it be?

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