The NBA has been paying tribute to Kobe Bryant throughout the league's All-Star weekend in Chicago. On Sunday, the league dedicated the All-Star Game to Bryant and even changed some of the game's rules to honor the NBA legend who, along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others, died in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles.
The NBA changed the game format to improve the entertainment level, but kept Bryant in mind when reworking the rules. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo were chosen to be captains after being the top vote-getters in their respective conferences. The superstars picked the other players during an on-air draft and divided into two teams, Team LeBron and Team Giannis. The former will wear No. 2 after Gianna and the latter will don No. 24 for Kobe.
Additionally, patches with stars honoring all nine victims of the helicopter crash were stitched to he players' jerseys for the weekend's events.
What were the changes to the 2020 All-Star Game?
The teams competed to win each 12-minute quarter. Whichever team had the highest score at the end of any given quarter won $100,000 for their designated Chicago-based charities. If the score is tied at the end of a quarter, the money carries over and is awarded to the winner of the following quarter, or game in the event of a third quarter tie.
The fourth quarter was a unique commemoration for Bryant. The game clock was turned off and the teams played until one reached a "final target score." The target score was determined by the leading team's cumulative score from the first three quarters plus 24 points — a nod to Bryant's No. 24 jersey, which he wore for the last decade of his career. The target score for the night was 157, as Team Giannis led Team LeBron 133 to 124 entering the fourth quarter.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver credited Oklahoma Thunder guard Chris Paul for integration of the so-called "Elam Ending," named after Ball State University professor Nick Elam who sought to end drawn out and predictable endings of games.
The game's virtual shot clock displayed a combination of gold and purple accents that inverted with eight seconds remaining on the clock in the fourth quarter.
Silver announced on Saturday that the All-Star Game MVP award will be renamed after Bryant. "Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game," Silver said. "He always relished the opportunity to compete with the best of the best and perform at the highest level for millions of fans around the world." Kawhi Leonard was given the MVP award following a win by Team LeBron.
Who was on Team LeBron?
James' starters are Lakers' Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard, Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic, Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard, Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons, Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic, Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum, Thunder's Chris Paul, Rockets' Russell Westbrook, Indiana Pacers' Domantas Sabonis. Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker will replace Lillard, who is injured.
Who was on Team Giannis?
Antetokounmpo' starters are Boston Celtics' Kemba Walker, Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young, Toronto Raptors' Pascal Siakam and 76ers' Joel Embiid. The rest of the players are: Bucks' Khris Middleton, Miami Heat's Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, Utah Jazz' Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, Raptors' Kyle Lowry, and New Orleans Pelicans' Brandon Ingram.
Other tributes to Kobe Bryant
Two-time Grammy and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson performed a special Bryant tribute to open the game.
Hip-hop artist Common also made an appearance before tip-off and talk about the importance of basketball in Chicago.
Chance the Rapper, who hails from the city, headlined the halftime show along with Lil Wayne, DJ Khaled and Quavo. Images of Bryant and Gianna were displayed throughout the performance.