New NBA All-Star Game format a huge hit until final free throw
When the NBA first announced there would be a new format for the All-Star Game, the proclamation was met with some confusion; the format seemed complicated. But after seeing how things played out on Sunday, there’s no denying the format was a huge success … except for one thing: the ending.
For the first three quarters of the All-Star Game, scores reset before the start of the quarter, and the team that won each quarter won it for a charity.
Then for the start of the fourth quarter, 24 points were added to the leading team’s cumulative score, and that became the target score. From there, it was a race to that number, which turned out to be 157. The fourth quarter was untimed.
Thanks to the new format, players went hard — like really playing defense — and their competitive juices all came out in the final quarter. Rather than loafing for 45 of 48 minutes, the new format turned the game into a race thanks to the target score. The teams competed hard for the entire fourth and actually played defense.
“They did a great job with the format this year,” Kawhi Leonard said in a postgame interview with TNT’s Ernie Johnson. “They had us come out playing hard in the fourth quarter competing for total points scored.”
Leonard scored 30 points to take home the first ever Kobe Bryant Trophy as All-Star Game MVP.
The only issue was that the game was allowed to end on a free throw or made basket. Nobody wanted to see the players go so hard only to have the officials and a free throw determine the winner.
Having an untimed fourth quarter and target score was a perfect way to get the players locked in and give the fans a show. The only fix they need to make is making sure the game can’t end on a free throw. Just have players inbound the ball instead.