Having made changes in recent years to the way that All-Star rosters are built, the NBA is now tweaking the format of the All-Star Game itself, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. The league has confirmed the news in a press release.
As Reynolds explains, each of the first three quarters will essentially function as its own mini-game, with the score reset to 0-0 at the start of the second quarter and again at the start of the third quarter. The team that wins each of those quarters will earn $100K (up to $300K in total) for a Chicago-area charity of its choosing.
At the start of the fourth quarter, according to Reynolds, the cumulative game score will be restored and the team that’s ahead will need to score 24 more points to win the game, a tribute to Kobe Bryant‘s uniform number. For instance, if Team LeBron is leading Team Giannis by a 100-90 margin after three quarters, the first team to 124 points would win the game — and an additional $200K for its charity. Unlike the first three quarters, the final quarter will be untimed.
According to Reynolds, the idea of a target score at the end of the game – a variation of The Basketball Tournament’s “Elam Ending” – is something NBPA president Chris Paul has suggested in the past. The hope is that it will make the game more competitive, since there will be something at stake in each quarter and the losing team will be more incentivized to make defensive stops as the target score nears.
“We’ve been very focused on making it more competitive, making it more exciting and making it fun,” NBA president for league operations Byron Spruell said of the All-Star Game, per Reynolds. “And we’ve had a great collaboration with the union. For this year’s game, we really focused on what new things we could do to make it a really competitive game where each quarter mattered in this case.”
Tying the target score to Bryant’s number is just one of a number of tributes the NBA has planned for All-Star weekend, as the league honors Kobe, his daughter Gianna, and the seven others who died in Sunday’s helicopter crash in California.
According to Reynolds, the format change is just a one-year experiment for now. However, the NBA is hoping that both the quarter-score for charity aspect and the target-score ending will become fixtures in future All-Star Games.