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1. New All-Star Game Format

I think we can all agree that the 2020 NBA All-Star Game was one of the best, if not the best, All-Star Game in nearly two decades. In an effort to bring some of the excitement back to the game, the NBA instituted a new format for this year and it was spot on. The changes included three 12 minute quarters in which both teams started with a score of zero at the beginning of each quarter. The winner of each quarter was also awarded $100,000 to a charity of their choosing in partnership with the NBA Cares outreach program, thus upping the stakes for both the players and the audience. Team Lebron took the victory in the first quarter 53-41, while Team Giannis came back with a vengeance to win the second quarter 51-30. The game, however, truly became exciting after the third quarter ended in a tie 41-41. As a result, the $100,000 prize was carried over to the fourth quarter of the game. At the end of the third quarter, each team’s points from every quarter were tallied and 24-points (in honor of Kobe Bryant) was added to the score of the team with the highest points. The new score of 157 points became the target score to win the game.

Down an additional nine points, Team Lebron came out to win at the start of a fourth quarter that was everything it promised to be. Players were playing defense, taking charges, blocking shots and driving to the rim like it was the NBA Finals. Ok, that might be a stretch, but the fourth quarter was still some of the best basketball I’ve seen from an All-Star Game in years and the ending didn’t disappoint. Only one point shy of the target score, Team Lebron eventually claimed the trophy after Anthony Davis, in dramatic fashion, missed the first of two free throws, only to come back and make the second among the deafening cheers from the team’s charity, which had just won $400,000 (personally my favorite part of the night).

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

2. Every Kobe & Gianna Bryant Tribute

As was expected, the NBA paid tribute to the late Kobe and Gianna Bryant, who tragically died in a helicopter crash on January 26 of this year. NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, started off the weekend by announcing that the All-Star Game MVP award would now be known as the Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP award. It was also announced prior to the start of the weekend, that Team Lebron would wear special jerseys with the number 2 for Gianna Bryant, while Team Giannis would wear jerseys with the number 24 to celebrate Kobe Bryant and his love for the game. The tributes, however, didn’t stop there. Former NBA All-Star, Magic Johnson, opened the All-Star Game by calling for an eight second moment of silence in honor of Kobe Bryant, while players on stage sported their favorite Kobe sneakers.

Kobe Bryant jersey
Olivier Collet


3. The Performances

Perhaps the most memorable tribute of the night, however, was Jennifer Hudson’s emotional performance of Donny Hathaway’s “For All We Know (We May Meet Again)”. The stunning performance by the former American Idol finalist was accompanied by images of Kobe Bryant from his basketball career that had the majority of the crowd, including myself, in tears. Chicago-born rapper, Common, kept the crowd on their feet with his creative rhymes for the All-Star introductions. Chance the Rapper further entertained the United Center and paid homage to his hometown, Chicago, through his electrifying half-time performance that also featured Lil-Wayne, DJ Khaled and Quavo. 

people with their hands raised during a concert

The 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend was definitely one for the fans. The All-Stars put on an unforgettable performance that was both entertaining and true to the sport of basketball. Even if you did not watch the game or its contests, the performances and tributes alone were no doubt flooding your Twitter feed. As an avid watcher of the game, it was refreshing to see the players and fans enjoying themselves while still maintaining the competitive aspect of the sport. The NBA, its players and the city of Chicago, truly outdid themselves this year and I personally cannot wait to see the NBA All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis next year.

Lauren Harney

Illinois '20

Senior at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign studying Behavioral Neuroscience and German. Born to cuddle my Siberian Husky, drink cold brew, and watch sports all day.
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