The 69th NBA All-Star Game was bound to be delightful. There were 10 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. Fifty-one minutes of commercial-free chaos ensued in the form of charges, coach's challenges, fouls and defense -- and the people ate it all up:
This the best game of all time— Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) February 17, 2020
New format got the guys hooping hooping!!!!— Lou Williams (@TeamLou23) February 17, 2020
Well... the Elam ending worked!— Spencer Dinwiddie (@SDinwiddie_25) February 17, 2020
Is this the NBA Finals I'm watching?— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) February 17, 2020
INTENSE— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) February 17, 2020
BEST ALL STAR GAME EVER!!!!! Fun weekend but can't wait to go on this championship run #3 pic.twitter.com/apnXRq5unH— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) February 17, 2020
This new All Star format is GREAT. If I had one thing to say tho its that you cannot win on a Free Throw. Only a bucket can get you that W— Evan Fournier (@EvanFourmizz) February 17, 2020
Wow love this new format I was definitely skeptical leading up but this is mad entertaining props to the league and especially the players ✊🏾#NBAAllStarGame— Myles Turner (@Original_Turner) February 17, 2020
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.