NBA All-Star weekend gives league chance to honour great Kobe Bryant
The NBA‘s best players will descend on Chicago this weekend as the 69th edition of the All-Star game takes place in the Windy City.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James will captain the two sides with the likes of James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Joel Embiid all involved in the main event.
This weekend’s action will see the league pay tribute to legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others who sadly passed away in a helicopter crash on January 26.
The NBA will pay tribute to legend Kobe Bryant during this weekend’s All-Star event
Team Giannis will all wear No 24 in tribute to Bryant’s jersey number while at LA Lakers
LeBron James’ team, meanwhile, will don No 2, which was his daughter Gianna’s number
Team Giannis will wear No 24 (Kobe’s last number at the Lakers) while Team LeBron will wear No 2 (Gianna’s favourite jersey number).
The league have also decided to pay tribute to one of the most influential players of all-time by changing the rules (this will be explained in detail below).
Here, Sportsmail runs you through all the changes and information on this year’s All-Star weekend ahead of what will be an emotional few days for the league.
When did the All-Star weekend last take place in Chicago?
The City of the Big Shoulders last hosted the All-Star weekend in 1988 when a certain Michael Jordan was playing in front of his own fans.
Jordan was named as the game’s MVP with the Chicago Bulls legend on the winning side alongside the likes of Larry Bird and Isiah Thomas.
The NBA’s top stars will show off their skills at the Chicago Bulls’ United Center this weekend
All-Star weekend was last held in Chicago back in 1988 when Michael Jordan stole the show
Jordan scored a game-high 40 points which left his then franchise’s fans elated.
The city of Chicago had only previously hosted the All-Star weekend once before and that came in 1973. The Eastern Conference also won the main event of the weekend on that occasion with Boston Celtics’ Dave Cowens winning the MVP award.
Both games were played at the Chicago Stadium so this will the first time the event will be hosted at the United Center, which hosts over 20,000 spectators.
How have the two teams been chosen?
The NBA changed the format in 2018 so it is no longer Western Conference vs Eastern Conference.
This weekend will see Team Giannis take on Team LeBron for the second consecutive season.
Team LeBron won last year with the Los Angeles Lakers star leading his side to a 178-164 win.
LeBron and Giannis were the most popular players in the voting from the Western Conference and Eastern Conference respectively so they have remained as captains.
Captains Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James chose their teams for All-Star weekend
NBA ALL-STAR DRAFT SELECTION
1. Team LeBron: Anthony Davis
2. Team Giannis: Joel Embiid
3. Team LeBron: Kawhi Leonard
4. Team Giannis: Pascal Siakam
5. Team LeBron: Luka Doncic
6. Team Giannis: Kemba Walker
7. Team LeBron: James Harden
8. Team Giannis: Trae Young
9. Team Giannis: Khris Middleton
10. Team LeBron: Dame Lillard
11. Team Giannis: Bam Adebayo
12. Team LeBron: Ben Simmons
13. Team Giannis: Rudy Gobert
14. Team LeBron: Nikola Jokic
15. Team Giannis: Jimmy Butler
16. Team LeBron: Jayson Tatum
17. Team Giannis: Kyle Lowry
18. Team LeBron: Chris Paul
19. Team Giannis: Brandon Ingram
20. Team LeBron: Russell Westbrook
21. Team Giannis: Donovan Mitchell
22. Team LeBron: Domantas Sabonis
Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks pushed LeBron close but King James held off competition to win the captaincy battle.
James, Anthony Davis, Leonard, Doncic and Harden were chosen as the five starters from the Western Conference while Giannis, Joel Embiid, Kemba Walker, Pascal Siakam and Trae Young were selected from the Eastern Conference.
LeBron and Giannis were able to pick from the pool of players made up of starters and reserves live on TNT.
The only replacement is Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker replacing the injured Damian Lillard.
LeBron got the proceedings underway by choosing Lakers team-mate Davis first as he had more votes than Giannis.
What’s changed this year?
The NBA have decided to make changes to the format this year with a tribute to the late Bryant at the heart of the adjustments.
Here’s what they have changed this year:
- The score will be reset to 0-0 after the first and second quarters
- The winners of the first, second and third quarters will receive $100,000 per quarter (£77,000) to donate to a Chicago-based charity of the captain’s choice
- At the end of the third quarter, the total scores from each quarter will be combined, as it would be in a typical game
- The fourth quarter will not be timed. Instead, a target score will be set by adding 24 points (Bryant’s old uniform number) to the total of whichever team has the lead through three quarters (i.e, if the team with the lead has 100 points, the target score would be 124). The first team to reach that target would win the game
- The winning team will receive another $200,000 (£154,000) to donate to charity, bringing the total up to $500,000 (£386,000).
The NBA have changed the format of the All-Star game to pay tribute to the late Kobe Bryant
How about the other challenges?
Brooklyn Nets’ Joe Harris will have the chance to defend his 3-Point Contest crown on Saturday but he will have to beat off competition from All-Stars Devin Booker and Trae Young.
Davis Bertans, Devonte’ Graham, Buddy Hield, Zach LaVine and Duncan Robinson will also participate in the two-round, timed shooting competition.
This year’s challenge will feature two new shots, as well as the original five, and it will involve the competitors shooting from behind the arc with a green ball due to the Mountain Dew sponsorship.
The 3-Point Contest will feature two new shots – the green indicators show where they are from
Players will have 70 seconds rather than the traditional 60 seconds to score from 3-point range with the top three advancing to the championship round.
The Dunk Contest, meanwhile, will feature Dwight Howard for the first time in 11 years.
Howard famously donned a Superman cape and costume during his last appearance in the competition which came just one year after his win in 2008.
Howard recently revealed that the late Bryant was lined up to assist in the challenge.
Dwight Howard donned a superman costume during his last Slam Dunk appearance
Bryant (right) was scheduled to support Howard (left) during the NBA All-Star Dunk contest
Friday February 14
NBA Celebrity Game and the Rising Stars Challenge
Saturday February 15
Skills challenge, 3-point contest and Slam dunk contest
Sunday February 16
NBA All-Star Game – Team LeBron v Team Giannis
He said of Bryant’s participation: ‘He was going to do something for me in the Dunk Contest. It’s just kind of heartbreaking. It’s been on my mind every day. I can’t believe it. I’m still in shock. It hurts. It’s tough.’
Expect Howard to instead pay a fitting tribute to close friend Bryant as he takes centre stage at All-Star weekend.
Howard will go up against Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon, Miami Heat’s Derrick Jones Jr and Milwaukee Bucks’ Pat Connaughton.
The Rising Star game should be one to remember with the likes of Doncic, DeAndre Ayton, Ja Morant and Zion Williamson all in action as USA take on a World team.
Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics will also get the chance to defend his Skills Challenge crown in a eight-man field with Bam Adebayo, Patrick Beverley, Spencer Dinwiddie, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Khris Middleton, Domantas Sabonis and Pascal Siakam.
Who will be involved in the Celebrity game?
Chicago-born rappers Common and Chance the Rapper will act as captains during the All-Star Celebrity game.
Rapper Quavo, recording artist Bad Bunny and Milwaukee owner Marc Lasry are among those who will be playing in the game.
The game will see ESPN colleagues Michael Wilbon and Stephen A. Smith go head-to-head as they are managing the two sides.
Chicago-born duo Chance the Rapper and Common will act as captain in the Celebrity game
Who is set to provide entertainment during the weekend?
Singer Jennifer Hudson, who also hails from Chicago, will be paying a special tribute to Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the seven friends who tragically died.
Hudson will open the night while Common, Chance the Rapper and his brother Taylor Bennett will also perform.
Ten-time Grammy winner Chaka Khan will sing the US national anthem while singer-songwriter Tenille Arts will sing the Canadian national anthem.
Lil Wayne, DJ Khaled and Quavo and Queen Latifah are also expected to perform during the course of the weekend.
Chicago’s Chance the Rapper will be among the performers during this weekend’s even