The NBA’s going to try to do the unthinkable — inject true competition throughout the NBA All-Star Game — and they’re going to do it to honor the late Kobe Bryant.
Prior to announcing the All-Star Game reserves Thursday, the NBA announced format changes to the game inspired by Bryant.
The No. 24 will be on everyone’s mind in the fourth quarter when the clock will turn off and the teams will battle for a set score — 24 points more than the leading team has at the end of three. For example, if LeBron James’ team is up 125-120 heading into the fourth, the first team to 149 points wins.
The All-Star Game will be played in Chicago on Feb. 16
Each quarter before that is going to count, too, with the NBA awarding $100,000 to the Chicago-based charity of the winning team’s choosing. The score will reset at 0-0 to start the second and third quarters. If the score is tied, the charity prize will rollover to the next period. The team that reaches the final target score first will win $200,000 for its charity.
LeBron James and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo will captain the two teams, with the players participating in a televised draft next Thursday.
After the starters were announced last week, the two captains found out the rest of the All-Star pool on Thursday, with no other Lakers or Clippers joining James, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard in the game.
In the Western Conference, former Lakers wing Brandon Ingram will be a part of a group of reserves that includes Utah center Rudy Gobert, Utah guard Donovan Mitchell, Denver center Nikola Jokic, Portland guard Damian Lillard and Houston guard Russell Westbrook. Oklahoma City guard Chris Paul will also play in the game.
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is the most notable omission, averaging more than 27 points per game while hitting 51% of his shots.
“I’ve played with and against multiple All-Stars in this league and Devin Booker is undoubtedly an NBA All Star,” Suns general manager James Jones said in a press release.
In the East, Miami center Bam Adebayo and forward Jimmy Butler will represent the Heat alongside Philadelphia guard Ben Simmons, Milwaukee forward Khris Middleton, Boston forward Jayson Tatum, Toronto guard Kyle Lowry and Indiana big man Domantas Sabonis.
Washington’s Bradley Beal was the biggest snub in the East.
In addition to James, Leonard, Davis and Antetokounmpo, Atlanta’s Trae Young, Boston’s Kemba Walker, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Toronto’s Pascal Siakam, Houston’s James Harden and Dallas’ Luka Doncic were chosen as starters
Nine players will make their All-Star debuts in Chicago — Doncic, Siakam, Young, Sabonis, Tatum, Adebayo, Ingram, Gobert and Mitchell.
Frank Vogel and the Lakers coaching staff will coach Team LeBron, while the coaching staff that will represent the East is still undecided because Mike Budenholzer and his Milwaukee staff are ineligible for the honor two years in a row.
Tributes to Bryant and former NBA commissioner David Stern are expected throughout the weekend in Chicago.
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