The 2021 NBA All-Star Game: Changes for COVID-19

By Angelica Lara
July 12, 2021

NBA by raymondclarkeimages, on Flickr
NBA Ultimate basket ball

NBA” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by raymondclarkeimages

COVID-19 is still on everyone’s minds, but the NBA All-Star game is right around the corner, so how will this year’s game be changed to keep the teams safe?

The yearly tradition of the NBA All-Star game began in 1951. The games usually are scheduled over a three-day period called ‘All-Star Weekend,’ played sometime in February, and it highlights 24 star players who are split up into two teams. 

Each player on the teams are picked by fans’ votes on which team member will play which position, regardless of what position they normally play. Although there are usually 12 players per team, because two members from Team Durant became injured, there are technically 14 members including Kevin Durant on his team.

NBA by St. Fish, on Flickr
Wells Fargo center stadium prior to COVID-19 before a game began.

NBA” (CC BY 2.0) by St. Fish

Final scores during these games tend to be much higher than normal NBA games, because players are encouraged to do slam dunks and trick shots and entertain their fans by playing up the competitive aspect of the game.

Because of new COVID-19 restrictions, the 2021 NBA All-Star event is scheduled to be held on one day. This year’s captains will be LeBron James and Kevin Durant and each team will be backed by different beneficiaries.

This year, the teams’ beneficiaries will be Thurgood Marshall College Fund supporting Team LeBron, and the United Negro College Fund supporting Team Durant’s side.

Kobe Bryant by Boixoesnois, on Flickr
Kobe Bryant wearing his 24 Lakers jersey

Kobe Bryant” (CC BY 2.0) by Boixoesnois

Both organizations help provide educational scholarship funds for Black students who are currently attending historically Black colleges or universities.

Around $1.75 million is expected to be contributed to both organizations, with an additional $150,000 being awarded to the winning team’s sponsor after each of the first three quarters. The organizations will also receive $500,000 just for being beneficiaries of the game. 

The game itself is divided into four quarters. The first three quarters last 12 minutes, and the fourth quarter is played with the timer off. Before the fourth quarter starts, a final target score is set and the game continues until a team reaches that score. 

During the 2020 All-Star game, the referees determined the game’s final target score at the end of the third quarter by taking the leading team’s score and adding 24 points, as a tribute to Kobe Bryant who had passed away in a tragic accident earlier that year.

Even if COVID-19 is the reason the stadium this year will be emptier than past years, hopefully this year’s game is similarly full of surprises and entertainment for loyal NBA fans. The full roster for the 2021 All-Star Game can be found on the official NBA website.

Angelica Lara

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