What is the NBA All-Star Game?

What is the NBA All Star Game

Following the massive success of Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, the NBA added its own All-Star Game in 1951. In the over 70 years since, the 24 best players from each season have competed against one another for their own honor and for the enjoyment of their diehard fans.

  • Venue: Vivint Arena (changes yearly)
  • Location: Salt Lake City, Utah (changes yearly)
  • Date: February 19th, 2023 (changes yearly)
  • First Game: 1951
  • Most Player Selections: LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19 selections each)
  • Most Team Wins: Eastern Conference (37 wins to the Western Conference’s 29 wins)


The NBA All-Star Game was based on the popular MLB All-Star Game and was conceived as a way to highlight basketball as a thriving American sport. Then NBA President Maurice Podoloff and his colleagues thought that a similar game with the league’s very best players would help shed a positive light on a sport that had recently been marred in controversy at the collegiate level.

The first NBA All-Star Game was played on March 2, 1951, at the Boston Garden. During the very first matchup, the Eastern All-Stars handily defeated the Western All-Stars 111-94. Podoloff’s gamble was an instant success, and this 1951 game drew a massive attendance of just over 10,000 people, a number triple the average attendance of the previous NBA season.


The NBA All-Star Game has a few unique rules governing its format and scoring:

  • The first three quarters last 12 minutes each.
  • The score is reset at 0-0 after each quarter.
  • $100,000 is donated to the winning team’s respective charity for each of the first three quarters.
  • After the third quarter, a target score will be set.
  • The target score is determined by taking the cumulative score of the team that has scored the most points through the first three quarters and adding 24.
  • In the fourth quarter, play continues without a game clock until one team reaches the target score.
  • The first team to reach the target score is declared the winner of the NBA All-Star Game. 

Teams and Players

The NBA All-Star Game has two teams, with players selected equally from the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Each team has a 12-player roster, for a total of 24 players in each All-Star Game. The All-Star field is chosen through a combination of fan, media, and player voting. The highest-voted player from each conference is selected as team captain, and the teams are renamed after each captain. During the newly formatted All-Star Draft, the captains pick their lineups from the pool of All-Stars selected in the initial voting. Captains can select players from either conference to be on their team; they first pick from the pool of starters, and then pick from the pool of reserves.

All-Star Game Philanthropy

As of 2018, each All-Star team chooses a local or national charity to which they will award their game winnings. This aspect of the NBA All-Star Game was added at the same time that the format was changed to no longer focus on Western Conference vs. Eastern Conference competition and instead had popular players as team captains with a roster chosen from the pool of All-Star players.

The winner of each quarter wins it for their selected charity, motivating players to compete their hardest. Each team automatically has $150,000 donated to their selected charity for participating, plus $100,000 for each quarter won. The team that wins the greater number of quarters wins an extra $100,000. Additionally, the NBA and State Farm donate $1,900 for each assist made during the game, with a pool that typically approaches $1 million split between the two charities.


What is the NBA All-Star Game?

The NBA All-Star Game is an exhibition game that features the best players from the most recent NBA season. Since it was first played in 1951, this game has featured 24 star players selected for their recent performance and has been played as part of the NBA All-Star Weekend, which now occurs every February.

Who plays in the NBA All-Star Game?

The NBA All-Star Game is played by 24 players chosen by the media, fans, and fellow league players. The player from each conference who receives the most votes is automatically selected as team captain of their All-Star team and they get to pick their team’s starting lineup from the remaining 22 players selected for the All-Star Game. The head coaches of each team get to pick the last seven players for each team.

When is the NBA All-Star Game?

The NBA All-Star Game is typically played in the middle of the NBA season, usually in February. The 2023 NBA All-Star Game will take place on February 19, 2023, in Salt Lake City, Utah.