This year’s 2020 NBA All Star Weekend was held in Chicago between Feb. 14 and Feb. 16 and for the first time in league history, the format was modified by the NBA as a way to honor Kobe Bryant after his passing only a few days prior.
The first three quarters were three mini games, with the winner of each quarter earning $100,000 for charity. For the fourth quarter, both teams’ scores were added up. 24 (Bryant’s number) points would be added to the cumulative score of the higher team. The team with the higher cumulative score would have to score 24 points to win, with the team that had the lower cumulative score having to score the difference between the two team’s scores, plus 24.
Through the first three quarters, team Giannis had the higher cumulative score at 133, setting the winning score at 157 in an untimed fourth quarter. Team Lebron, who had 124 points through the first three quarters, ended up outscoring Team Giannis 33-22 to win the game in the fourth quarter.
Many former and present NBA players, such as Allen Iverson, paid tribute to Bryant by wearing his jersey, while Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard wore the number 24 on his Superman outfit for the dunk contest.
In the All-Star game, Team Lebron players wore number 2 in honor of Gigi Bryant, while Team Giannis players wore number 24 in honor of Bryant.
The weekend started out with the Celebrity All Star Game. The teams were coached by ESPN news anchors Michael Wilbon and Stephen A. Smith. Team Wilbon defeated Team Smith by a score of 62-47, with rapper and Chicago native Common taking home the MVP award, scoring 10 points, while also recording 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 steals.
The Rising Stars Game saw a much higher score, with Team USA defeating Team World, 151-131. Charlotte Hornets forward, Miles Bridges, took home the MVP award after scoring 20 points, five rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Golden State Warriors forward, Eric Paschall, was also a heavy contributor for Team USA, scoring 23 points.
For Team World, Canadian New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett led the way with 27 points, while Canadian Memphis Grizzlies forward, Brandon Clarke, was a large contributor with 22 points.
All Star Saturday featured the Skills Challenge, Three Point Contest, and Dunk Contest. Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo won the Skills Challenge, defeating Indiana Pacers center Domantas Sabonis in the last of three rounds.
In the three point contest, Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield beat Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (replacing Damian Lillard), and Washington Wizards guard David Bertans.
The Dunk Contest brought a lot of controversy, as NBA stars and fans expressed their anger towards the judging. Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. won the contest, but many believe it should have been Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon. The dunk that many people are upset with came when he received a 47 out of 50 on a dunk in which he jumped over Boston Celtics 7’5 rookie Tacko Fall.
Philadelphia All Star center Joel Embiid expressed his frustration with the judging through twitter, tweeting, “AG GOT ROBBED AGAIN.” Embiid was referring to the 2016 dunk contest, when Gordon lost to Chicago Bulls guard Zach Lavine in a contest that saw more perfect ‘50’ dunks than any other year.
Common, who was a judge for the dunk contest, explained to reporters afterwards that the judges had planned for Gordon and Jones to be tied again, but that one person messed up. “We thought it was going to be tied… but somebody messed up,” Common explained to reporters. This has led many fans to believe that Dwayne Wade, former player for Miami Heat, gave Gordon a 9 so that fellow Miami Heat player Jones would win.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard took home the Kobe Bryant MVP Award, scoring 30 points, netting 8 three pointers, along with 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. For Team Giannis, the scoring was much more spread out, with Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, Milwaukee Bucks power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker each scoring above 20 points.