The NBA All-Star Game is the league's annual showcase of the most talented basketball players in the world competing against one another. But without anything on the line, does the NBA All-Star game matter? The Sunday game is the headline event of the NBA All-Star Weekend and takes place after the build-up of the Slam Dunk Contest, 3-Point Contest, and Skills Challenge which all take place on Saturday, February 18th. While the 24 players voted on to the All-Star game are the best, what motivates them to win?
The NBA All-Star game is a tradition that started in 1951 after a meeting with the NBA president, publicity director, and the owner of the Boston Celtics at the time. While the first would occur in March, it's been held in February each year since. The players in the All-Star game are voted onto their teams by a combination of fans, players, and a media panel. This year the players include superstars like LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, and Stephen Curry.
Does the NBA All-Star Game matter? What are they playing for?
While the NBA All-Star Game is put on in good fun, if there's no motivation to play competitively, there's nothing to stop players from not giving it their all besides their pride. To that effect, even though the game technically has no impact on their season, there's a good incentive to win. The NBA All-Stars all get paid handsomely, with each winner receiving $100,000 while the loser gets $25,000.
Besides personal gain, each team plays for a charity of their choice. This year, LeBron's team plays for 'Big Brothers and Sisters of Utah' while Giannis' team represents 'Raise the Future.'
The NBA All-Star starers were announced on Jan. 26, with Giannis and LeBron chosen as captains. This is the sixth consecutive time the game has used the same draft format, however, unlike the last few years, this is the first NBA All-Star Game when the draft is set to tae place right before the game starts. To add an extra element that requires Giannis and LeBron to strategize in order to pick a well composed-team, this year the starters will be chosen after they pick the reserves.
Picking the reserves first will be interesting when fans consider that this year some of the starters: Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Zion Williamson are injured.
The format of the game itself will be a bit different as well and will use a target score, meaning that at the end of the third quarter, the leading team's score plus 24 is the target, which once reached ends the game. While the first three quarters will last 12 minutes, the fourth quarter has no game clock, requiring one of the teams to hit the target score in order for the game to end.