NBA All-Star Game format, explained: What to know about 2021 rules for Team LeBron vs. Team Durant


The rule changes the NBA instituted for the 2020 All-Star Game helped bring a level of intensity that fans hadn’t seen for quite some time and provided an exciting end to the exhibition. It’s no surprise, then, that the league is keeping that format in place for another year.

But when Team LeBron and Team Durant meet for the 2021 All-Star Game on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, TNT), it won’t just be about entertainment. The contest will also support those in need.

How will the All-Star Game play out? And which organizations will benefit from it? Here’s a breakdown of the 2021 format so you can avoid any confusion during the live broadcast.

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NBA All-Star Game format, explained

What are the rules for the 2021 All-Star Game?

Team LeBron and Team Durant will compete to win each of the first three quarters of the game. Those quarters will be the standard 12 minutes but start with a 0-0 score. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the game clock will be turned off and a final target score will be set based on the leading team’s cumulative score through the first three quarters. That target score will be the leading team’s total score plus 24 points.

The NBA decided to incorporate 24 points into the target score to honor Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020. The 18-time All-Star wore the No. 24 from the 2006-07 season through 2015-16.

Once the target score is finalized, Team LeBron and Team Durant will play the untimed fourth quarter, and the first team to reach the target score will win the game.

How does the NBA All-Star format work?

If the cumulative score through three quarters is 100-95 in favor of Team LeBron, the target score would be 124. Team LeBron would only need to score 24 points in order to win, while Team Durant would need to score 29 points. The results of the previous three quarters are simply based on the individual scores of those quarters.

Why is winning each quarter important?

The winner of each of the first three quarters will receive $150,000 (a total of $450,000) for an organization that provides scholarship funding for students attending historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The overall winning team will earn $300,000.

Team LeBron will play for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and Team Durant will play for the United Negro College Fund. Each organization will receive an initial contribution of $500,000, and a total of $1.75 million will be spread between the two.

The NBA announced it would provide more than $3 million in support of HBCUs and communites of color impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as part of this year’s festivities.

“More people will be aware of the fact that our students are at risk of not being able to complete, largely because of finances. Our community is the most impacted,” said Dr. Michael Lomax, President of United Negro College Fund (via ESPN’s Eric Woodyard). “The students at HBCUs, there’s 75 percent of them that are low income and that means they and their families are the most at-risk of COVID, but they’re also the most at-risk of white supremacy and anti-Black racism.

“Let me just say, I hear the criticism [for playing the All-Star Game amid the pandemic], but this is a game with a purpose. And the purpose is to help Black college students stay persistent to complete. I think that’s worth it.”

OK, so what about ties?

If the first or second quarter ends in a tie, the money for that quarter will be rolled over to the next quarter. If the third quarter ends in a tie, then the money will be added to the total for the winner of the game.

NBA All-Star rosters 2021

Team LeBron

1.Giannis Antetokounmpo*Bucks
2.Stephen Curry*Warriors
3.Luka Doncic*Mavericks
4.Nikola Jokic*Nuggets
5.Damian LillardTrail Blazers
6.Ben Simmons76ers
7.Chris PaulSuns
8.Jaylen BrownCeltics
9.Paul GeorgeClippers
10.Domantas SabonisPacers
11.Rudy GobertJazz

*All-Star starters

Team Durant

1.Kyrie Irving*Nets
2.Joel Embiid*76ers
3.Kawhi Leonard*Clippers
4.Bradley Beal*Wizards
5.Jayson Tatum**Celtics
6.James HardenNets
7.Devin Booker***Suns
8.Zion WilliamsonPelicans
9.Zach LaVineBulls
10.Julius RandleKnicks
11.Nikola VucevicMagic
12.Donovan MitchellJazz
Mike Conley***Jazz

*All-Star starters
**Tatum elevated to starter with Durant out (hamstring injury)
***Conley named replacement with Booker out (knee injury)

2021 NBA All-Star Draft complete order

1.Giannis AntetokounmpoBucks
2.Kyrie IrvingNets
3.Stephen CurryWarriors
4.Joel Embiid76ers
5.Luka DoncicMavericks
6.Kawhi LeonardClippers
7.Nikola JokicNuggets
8.Bradley BealWizards
9.Jayson TatumCeltics
10.James HardenNets
11.Damian LillardTrail Blazers
12.Devin BookerSuns
13.Ben Simmons76ers
14.Zion WilliamsonPelicans
15.Chris PaulSuns
16.Zach LaVineBulls
17.Jaylen BrownCeltics
18.Julius RandleKnicks
19.Paul GeorgeClippers
20.Nikola VucevicMagic
21.Domantas SabonisPacers
22.Donovan MitchellJazz
23.Rudy GobertJazz
Mike ConleyJazz



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