The NBA has steadily been making changes to the All-Star Game in an effort to make it more exciting in recent years. The biggest change was the removal of East vs. West and having the highest vote-getters in each conference serve as team captains, choosing their squads from the pool of All-Star selections.
This year, there will be even bigger changes coming to the game’s format itself, as first reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press. The game will no longer be a standard game, but instead will feature a target score for teams to get to in the final period. The first three quarters will each be a mini game, with the winners of the quarter earning $100,000 for charity (the score is reset to 0-0 in the second and third), and then the scores will be tallied, added together, and put back on the scoreboard entering the fourth quarter.
This season, in tribute to Kobe Bryant, the fourth quarter will be a race to 24 points more than the team leading has going to the final period. That means if it is 126-120, whoever hits 150 first will win, and earn $200,000 for charity. It’s a fascinating experiment that, for now, is just a one-year change, but the hope is that it creates a more competitive atmosphere with each quarter counting on its own and a furious race to the finish raising the excitement of the end. If that occurs, this format could stick, with the potential for the target score to be tweaked, since 24 points in an All-Star Game can happen in five minutes.
It’ll be just one of many Kobe tributes the league is planning, per Reynolds, and it’ll be very interesting to see how it works out. Whatever the case, the All-Star Game figures to look different, and that might just be a very good thing.