After a thrilling Saturday night that saw Chester native Derrick Jones Jr. win a hotly contested Slam Dunk contest, the NBA’s All-Star Weekend concludes with the 69th annual All-Star Game, with tip-off scheduled for just after 8 p.m. Sunday in Chicago.
Teams selected by All-Star team captains Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers will face off in a star-studded offensive exhibition that will be light on defense. But the often-overlooked exhibition game has been injected with some much-needed interest this year, thanks to some new rules.
The biggest change will be the untimed fourth quarter, when Team Giannis and Team LeBron will race to be the first to reach a “final target score,” determined by taking the leading team’s cumulative score through three quarters and adding 24 points (one of the game’s nods to Kobe Bryant). TNT will broadcast the fourth quarter commercial-free, and the shot clock on the score bug will light up gold and purple at 24 seconds and eight seconds, another nod to Bryant.
In yet another nod to the former Los Angeles Lakers superstar and Philadelphia-area native, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced Saturday that the NBA had permanently renamed the All-Star MVP award the Kobe Bryant MVP award. Bryant won four All-Star MVP awards — 2002, 2007, 2009, 2011.
For Philadelphia fans tuning in, there will be two Sixers players on the court. Center Joel Embiid, who was the first player selected by Antetokounmpo, was voted an All-Star starter for the third-straight year. Opposing him will be point guard Ben Simmons, who was taken by James after being named an All-Star reserve player for the second-straight year.
Here’s everything you need to know to watch or stream this year’s NBA All-Star game:
There are two main rules changes that will certainly make the often-mocked exhibition game more interesting:
1. Every quarter counts: Each quarter will start tied 0-0, and the team with the highest score after each 12-minute quarter will donate $100,000 to its designated Chicago-based charity. If the first or second quarter ends in a tie, the prize will be added to the next quarter’s pot. If the third quarter ends in a tie, the prize money goes to the team that wins the game.
The winning team will earn $200,000 for its designated community organization, and if one team wins every quarter and the game, $500,000 will be donated to the winning team’s charity and $100,000 will be donated to the losing team’s charity.
2. Untimed fourth quarter: The game clock will be turned off at the start of the fourth quarter, and the two teams will race to be the first to reach a “final target score" determined by adding 24 points to the leading team’s cumulative score through the first three quarters.
Confused? Here’s an example: If the winning team has scored a cumulative total of 100 points after three quarters, the “final target score” needed to win would be 124 points (100 + 24). In that example, the first team to score a cumulative total of 124 points would win the game.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out during the fourth quarter. In theory, a rule like this could eliminate the hack-a-thon during the final minutes that slows most NBA match-ups to a screeching halt.
Sunday’s coverage of the All-Star games begins at 6 p.m. with TNT NBA Tip-Off, featuring Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal live from Chicago. The popular studio crew will return on NBA TV following the game for a special edition of Inside the NBA.
Coverage of the All-Star game begins at 8 p.m. Longtime announcer Marv Albert will handle play-by-play, while former NBA stars turned broadcasters Reggie Miller and Chris Webber will offer analysis. Allie LaForce will offer reports from the court.
There will also be a virtual reality version of the game available to fans on the TNT VR app using Oculus Go or Samsung Gear VR. Calling the game for VR viewers will be Noah Eagle, Richard “Rip” Hamilton, and Ro Parrish.
- Joel Embiid, 76ers
- Pascal Siakam, Raptors
- Kemba Walker, Celtics
- Trae Young, Hawks
- Khris Middleton, Bucks
- Bam Adebayo, Heat
- Rudy Gobert, Jazz
- Jimmy Butler, Heat
- Kyle Lowry, Raptors
- Brandon Ingram, Pelicans
- Donovan Mitchell, Jazz