Last year, the NBA All-Star Game happened just a few weeks after the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, and the whole weekend was used as a tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers legend. Now, a little over a year later, the league is once again honoring Bryant during the All-Star Game.
On Thursday, the league formally announced plans for the 2021 All-Star Game, which will take place in Atlanta on March 7, despite frustration from players and the city's mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, regarding the event being held during an ongoing pandemic. Due to COVID-19, it will be a one-night event, with the Skills Challenge and 3-Point Contest taking place pre-game, and the Slam Dunk Contest slotted in at halftime.
As for the game itself, the league is returning to the Elam Ending. If you're unfamiliar with that idea, it's worth checking out this in-depth feature from our own James Herbert on its founder and origins. But the gist of it is that instead of playing to a final buzzer, teams play to a final score, and the first team to reach the target score wins.
Last year, the league adopted the format for the All-Star Game, and decided that the target score would be calculated by taking the amount of points the leading team had at the end of the third quarter, and adding 24 points -- in reference to Bryant's jersey number. So, for example, if the team in front had 100 points after the third quarter, they would then play to 124 points. That process will be in place for this year's game as well.
It's a pretty simple way to honor Bryant, and the change in format produced one of the most entertaining finishes to an All-Star Game ever, so it makes sense that the league is bringing it back. And honestly, it wouldn't be surprising if this tradition eventually becomes permanent.