The NBA All-Star Game adopted its own version of the “Elam Ending” starting in 2020, and has stuck with the format ever since. With the 2023 NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, Utah featuring Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis, the winner will again be decided by a target score and not a running clock during the fourth quarter.
Following an introduction of each player complete with music, dancers and actor Vin Diesel on the mic, the captains got down to business.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, holding a book seemingly filled with notes about potential teammates, kicked things off by selecting Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard as the top overall reserve. This came as a surprise to many in the crowd — including fellow captain LeBron James — who expected Antetokounmpo to take Milwaukee Bucks teammate Jrue Holiday first off the board.
LeBron James, the leading-overall vote recipient, responded by taking Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards. This is Edwards’ All-Star debut.
Tatum was Giannis Antetokounmpo’s first pick during the starters portion of the pre-game draft, and that turned out to be a terrific decision. Not only is he an incredible talent, but he took the game more seriously than most of the other players, which in itself was a big advantage. Tatum finished 20 of 31 from the field, including 10 of 18 from the 3-point line. In addition to his 55 points, he added 10 rebounds and six assists in a strong all-around performance befitting his vast array of talents.
Along with his full-game scoring record, Tatum set the mark for the most points in a single quarter in All-Star history with 27 in the third frame. Tatum caught fire from downtown, and put on a brilliant display of shot-making that included a 43-second span where he made three pull-up 3s in a row.
Kyrie Irving possesses some of the best handles this game has ever seen and from the time he entered college, it was clear that Irving had the makings of a future pro. His already truncated, one-and-done, college career was further shortened by a foot injury that sidelined him for 26 games. Even so, none of those variables stopped him showcasing himself as a high-caliber player. Irving scored in double figures in all 11 games he played in, including a 31-point performance against Michigan State, set a freshman record for assists in his program debut (9), and helped Duke reach the Sweet Sixteen in the March Madness tournament before declaring for the draft at the end of the season.
Before Jayson Tatum was leading the Boston Celtics to deep playoff runs in the NBA, he put up impressive numbers as a member of the Blue Devils. Averaging 16.8 points, 7.3 boards, 2.1 dimes, Tatum was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team, appeared in 29 games with 27 starts and was a finalist for the the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award. After a quick, second round exit from the Big Dance in 2017, Tatum declared for the NBA Draft.
Why does the NBA All-Star Game use a target score to decide winner?
The NBA wanted to eliminate teams intentionally fouling at the end of the All-Star Game to get the ball back. With a target score to decide the game, the losing team doesn’t need to foul to have a shot if it’s close late: they just need to keep getting stops on defense and scores on offense.
Another benefit of target scoring is that every game ends on a game-winning shot. The only downside is that can be a free throw, which is boring. Hopefully the refs swallow the whistles late.
Head coach John Calipari is known for his ability to recruit young talent and usher them into quick, yet affective, years playing for Kentucky. And much like Duke’s three all-stars, Bam Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander were one-and-dones for the Wildcats.
Bam Adebayo and first time all-star De’Aaron Fox will reunite on the hardwood at Vivint Arena after their stint as teammates at Kentucky. Adebayo and Fox provided a one-two punch for the Wildcats during the 2016-17 season as Adebayo averaged 13 points and eight rebounds and Fox averaged 16.7 points, four rebounds and 4.6 assists. Adebayo and Fox led their team to a 29-5 regular season record and deep postseason run as Fox set a freshman NCAA tournament record with 39 points against UCLA in the Sweet 16. The two infamously shared in heartbreak after losing to eventual champion North Carolina, 75-73, in the Elite Eight.
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