The 69th NBA All-Star Game was bound to be delightful. There were ten first-time All-Stars, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo served as captains for the second straight season, and it was in Chicago for the first time in 32 years.
New changes to the format of a game constantly wrought with questionable defense and effort would ensure a unique experience, and those changes were made in honor of the late Kobe Bryant.
The new format featured a revamped fourth quarter in which the teams play to a Final Target Score, first introduced in The Basketball Tournament as the Elam Ending. The Final Target Score was determined by taking the leading team’s total cumulative score through three quarters and adding 24 points — the 24 representing Bryant’s jersey number. The first team to reach the Final Target Score during the untimed fourth quarter wins the game.
That number was 157 after Team Giannis led Team LeBron 133-124 at the end of three quarters. 51 minutes of commercial-free chaos ensued in the form of charges, coach’s challenges, fouls, and defense – and the people ate it all up:
Giannis Antetokounmpo locks up LeBron James and blocks the fadeaway shot.
This the best game of all time
— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) February 17, 2020
Well… the Elam ending worked!
— Spencer Dinwiddie (@SDinwiddie_25) February 17, 2020
— Ryan Hollins (@TheRyanHollins) February 17, 2020
New format works! End of story ! #nbaallstar
— Kenny Smith (@TheJetOnTNT) February 17, 2020
This 4th QT of @NBA All-Star Game is an absolutely phenomenal look for the game of basketball. For these guys to be going at it like this – in an exhibition game -….you can’t ask for more than this. This is what fans crave and these players delivered.#ProudOfThemAll
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) February 17, 2020
Is this the NBA Finals I’m watching?
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) February 17, 2020
Mamba Mentality is definitely rubbing off here. Love it.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 17, 2020
— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) February 17, 2020
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 17, 2020
All-Star Game 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) February 17, 2020
Kyle Lowry just tried to take what I have to assume would be the first charge in All Star Game history. 😂
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) February 17, 2020
Anthony Davis is fouled by Kyle Lowry and hits the second free throw, winning the game for Team LeBron.
Ultimately, the game was decided when Anthony Davis went to the free throw line with his Team LeBron squad leading Team Giannis 156-155. Davis missed the first shot of the pair, but made the second to end the game at 157-155. Kawhi Leonard (game-high 30 points) was named the first winner of the Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP award. But we will always remember Kyle Lowry taking two charges.
Kyle Lowry takes the charge from Kawhi Leonard and smiles while being picked up by his teammates.