Kevin Chouinard: NBA announces changes to this year’s All-Star Game format: pic.twitter.com/jpHO4tpRK9
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Kobe Bryant’s final jersey number will be something this year’s NBA All-Stars play to reach. The NBA announced major changes to the All-Star format on Thursday, turning every quarter into a mini-game for charity before an untimed final quarter with a target score that will decide which team wins. Scores will be reset — back to 0-0 — at the start of the second and third quarters, then restored to begin the fourth quarter.
That’s where the tribute to Bryant and the No. 24 jersey he wore for the last decade of his NBA career comes into play. The team that wins the All-Star Game will be the first to reach a target score, determined by the total points the team in the lead scored in the first three quarters combined — plus 24, the obvious nod to Bryant.
The NBA said there will be multiple tributes to Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and the seven others who lost their lives in Sunday’s helicopter crash throughout All-Star weekend, including the showcase game on Feb. 16. The target score is just one of them. “We spent a lot of time considering the right target number to use for the fourth quarter,” said Byron Spruell, the NBA’s president for league operations. “Through the events of this week it became clear to us that the only appropriate number for this season’s All-Star game is 24.”
The target score is the latest addition to the NBA’s quest to make the game more competitive, something that players have wanted for some time. […] “We’ve been very focused on making it more competitive, making it more exciting and making it fun,” Spruell said. “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.”
The team that has the most points after the first quarter will win $100,000 for its charity. The same will apply to the second and third quarters. The scores get added for the fourth to set the target score — for example, if the score is 100-95 at that point, then the team that wins the All-Star Game will be the first to reach 124. The target score concept is something that the NBA has been considering since last summer, when National Basketball Players Association president Chris Paul — a big fan of The Basketball Tournament, a winner-take-all $2 million event composed mostly of college alumni teams — reached out to say the league should explore the concept. The Basketball Tournament uses what is called the Elam Ending; the game clock is turned off at the first stoppage with 4:00 or less in the fourth quarter, and the target score there is eight points more than the leading score at the time.
The game is still roughly four months off, but Warriors guard Stephen Curry already sounds like he’s preparing mentally for what he might do if he is selected as one of the new all-important captains for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles. “Probably one of my teammates … until you run out of those options,” he said with a knowing grin. “Then you’ve got to figure it out. You don’t go into a draft knowing what pick 9-10-11 is going to be. You have to see how it all unfolds.”
“You’re an All-Star, but obviously, somebody has to get picked last, or second-to-last,” he said. “I’m sure the noise that’s evident in our society every single day is going use that as ammunition to try and make fun of somebody. But I guarantee you, anybody would want to trade places with the 24th All-Star if they had the opportunity to do so. That’s kind of the unfortunate circumstance of the whole drafting situation. But at least they’re playing in the All-Star Game.”
LeBron James, speaking to the media for the first time in nearly two weeks, offered his thoughts on the All-Star Game format change: “I don’t see it as a bad idea. We had to do something. The All-Star Game has been pretty bad the last couple years just from a competition standpoint. Trying to switch it up. “
JR Smith said the All-Star change is a “great format” but hopes the playground style team picking process is not televised to save players embarrassment.
Smith: “Just creates unwanted drama and unnecessary drama. … Say Anthony Davis gets picked last on whichever team. How do you think he feels about that? As an All-Star, you made the All-Star team, you’re pretty much taking the joy from it away and now you’re making it a problem between me and such and such person because you picked me last.”
Now that the NBA has changed the format of the All-Star Game will there be more of a push to re-seed the playoffs from 1-16, regardless of conference? Steph Curry is among many players who wouldn’t mind seeing the change. “It’s something to think about,” Curry said after Thursday’s practice. “And obviously I know the league has been thinking about it for a while. They’ve probably been asked that question plenty of times.”
Steve Kerr: “I think it really would have been interesting if they would have picked 24 All-Stars total, and not necessarily made it 12 from each side. If they really wanted to do it and get the 24 best players, maybe that would have been the way to go, but I respect the fact that the league is looking to alter the format, trying to make it better. I think it’s good.”
Kevin Love danced around the question when asked who LeBron James would pick in the All-Star Game if both Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving were available: “Ooh. It depends on how far, I guess, how far he’s picked. Because you know he’s going to pick … we talked about peanut butter and jelly this week and maybe the banana boat guys, so, we’ll see what happens. I know that he’ll have some fun with it.”
Richard Jefferson is fed up with what the NBA All-Star Game has devolved to: “It’s really kind of a joke. It’s sad from the standpoint of, ‘Oh, this is the most points since Michael Jordan scored 35 in ‘87,’ well, it was a completely different game. It’s tough when … no one had had a triple-double, now you have three guys can get a triple-double in one game because it’s just a float-around game. They’re changing it up ideally to make it more competitive. Hopefully it works.”
Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry believes the changes the NBA announced surrounding the All-Star Game are great for the game. “I think it’s great for the game to kind of spice it up a little bit,” Curry told ESPN before Wednesday’s practice. “Give the fans a little bit more interest in how the teams are going to unfold. It’s great to follow how the 24-man rosters are voted on by the fans and the coaches but now there’s another element of mixing the East and the West and giving different combinations of guys out there on the floor. So it should be a pretty cool vibe to test it out and see how it goes.”
Mike Bresnahan: NBA announces new All-Star game format: No longer East vs. West. Two captains will pick teams without concern for conference.
Alex Kennedy: No East vs. West in the NBA All-Star Game this year. Interesting:
Adam Silver: I promise this time that next year’s will be different. I think we all recognize, and we talked about it at last year’s All-Star, we’ve gotten to the point where everyone seemed to agree it needed to be more competitive. And by everyone, I mean including the players. Chris Paul, who’s president of the union, he was the first to say to me the day after the game — and he wasn’t playing in that game — let’s get together and do something about this.
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