With their victory at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Team LeBron has won a total of $400,000 for charity.
The game — broadcasted live from the United Center in Chicago — featured two teams of NBA superstars, one represented by LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and the other by Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.
The night kicked off with performances by Jennifer Hudson and Common in tribute to Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna and seven other victims of the Jan. 26 helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
Team LeBron won the first quarter 53-41, but Team Giannis took the second quarter 51-30 and subsequently the first half with a total of 92-83. Each team won $100,000 for their charities: Chicago Scholars (Team LeBron) and After School Matters (Team Giannis).
Then in the third quarter, the two teams tied 41-41, forcing the $100,000 of that quarter to carry over into the fourth. In the nail-biting final quarter, which was full of fouls, Lakers star Anthony Davis’ free throw helped Team LeBron reach the target score of 157 to win the game and $200,000 additional prize for Chicago Scholars.
“You could definitely feel his presence just from the start,” James told reporters after the game regarding Kobe Bryant. “From every moment from the fans chanting his name till you seen the numbers. Every time you saw Giannis’ team run on the floor, you saw the 2-4. So he was definitely here.”
Regarding the pregame Kobe tributes and all the Mamba-inspired dedications, James said “anything else would be uncivilized.”
“He’s one of the greatest basketball players, one of the most impactful players, and the inspiration that he has, it’s showing. How many people not only in the basketball world, but also outside the basketball world, that was touched by a person such as himself,” James said. “Obviously, we all saw what he was able to do on the floor as a competitor, as a champion, someone who strived for excellence every single day, but we also saw the father he was as well to his beautiful daughters and to his wife. The things that he was doing, winning an Oscar, just doing so many things that people would aspire to do and gaining inspiration from him because of his drive.”
The star added, “I think it’s been amazing, and I’m happy to be a part of it this weekend. Obviously, me being a Los Angeles Laker myself, it’s going to be a part of me for the rest of my life and our franchise, and any player to ever wear purple and gold until the end of basketball, which is never. So it’s a beautiful time. It’s a beautiful day. And his presence was felt here in Chicago.”
Team LeBron’s starters included Anthony Davis (Lakers), Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks) and James Harden (Houston Rockets).
Team Giannis featured Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors), Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics), Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks).
This year marks the second All-Star season that James and Antetokounmpo are competing as captains — last year James winning 178-164.
But, this was the first year that the NBA instituted dramatic changes to the game itself, largely spurred on by the death of Bryant.
Each quarter played out as a sort of mini-game, with the score resetting back to 0-0 at the start of the second and third quarters. The team with the most points in each quarter — again, played out like its own game with the score resetting to zero — won $100,000 for its chosen charity.
The format changed in the fourth quarter, though, with the scores of each of the previous three quarters getting tallied up. Instead of going by a time limit, a target score was set that each team had to get to in order to win. The target score is decided by adding 24 points — in honor of Bryant — to the winning score after three quarters.
The winning team won another $200,000 for its charity.
But there were also other tributes to Bryant on the uniforms of the players.
All members of Team LeBron wore No. 2 on their jerseys, in memory of Gianna, who wore the number as a member of the Mamba Sports Academy. In turn, Team Giannis players wore No. 24 in honor of Bryant, who wore the number in the latter half of his career.
To pay tribute to the other victims, both teams wore patches with nine stars to represent all who were lost in the crash, including John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan.
If you would like to help the families of the victims of the crash, consider donating to the Mamba on Three Fund. Contributions to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation will help support youth sports.