The league announced Thursday some alternations to the All-Star format that will turn the first three quarters into mini-games for charity, each starting with a score of 0-0 and 12 minutes on the clock and tallying a winner based on which side scores the most in each quarter. The teams will then play in an untimed fourth quarter with a target score — and a little wrinkle in honor of Bryant — to determine which team wins the grand prize for their chosen charity.
Here’s how the target score works: The leading team through the first three quarters will have their cumulative score added up and then will add an additional 24 points to make the final target score an obvious tribute to Bryant’s final jersey number. So, using the NBA’s example, if the cumulative score adds up to be 100-95, the final target score would be set at 124 points. That means the team with 100 points would need to score 24 to win, while the team with 95 points would need to score 29.
The winner of each of the first three quarters will receive $100,000 for their Chicago-based community organizations — a total of $300,000 — while the overall winner that hits the final target score will earn $200,000 for its designated community organization. If the teams tie in one quarter, the money will carry over into the next quarter. If one team sweeps all four quarters, the losing team will still receive $100,000 for its charity.
“We spent a lot of time considering the right target number to use for the fourth quarter,” said Bryon Spruell, the NBA’s president for league operations, per The Associated Press. “Through the events of this week, it became clear to us that the only appropriate number for this season’s All-Star Game is 24.”
The NBA also said its target score is just one of multiple tribute it will be paying throughout All-Star weekend to Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and the seven others who were killed in Sunday’s tragic helicopter crash in California.
NBA Has Considered Target Score for Some Time
According to AP reporter Tim Reynolds, the NBA has been considering the concept of a target score since last summer at the suggestion of point guard Chris Paul, the president of the National Basketball Players Association. He brought the idea to them from his experiences with The Basketball Tournament, which uses a similar concept — called the Elam Ending — that turns off the game clock at the first stoppage inside the final four minutes of the fourth quarter and sets a target score that is eight points more than the leading score at the time.
The NBA has been attempting to spice up the All-Star Game for some time, looking to put an emphasis on making it more competitive. This year’s game will be the third in which they allow team captains to draft their teams prior to the event, something Lakers’ LeBron James and Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo will do next week.