Another NBA season hits the halfway point of the season which means it is All-Star weekend time. This means all the NBA stars, dunkers, three-point shooters and celebrities will report to New Orleans for a fun filled weekend.
The NBA All-Star weekend starts off with the Celebrity game. This is filled with actors, artists, former NBA and WNBA players, athletes from other sports and even NBA owners, such as Mark Cuban, were involved. Some players take this event seriously while others are just there to promote their image with TV time.
The game this year was not very competitive as the side with former NBA player Jason Williams and Youtube sensation Brandon Armstrong took over the event. Williams was known for his incredible ball handling and flashy style of play and that was on display in this one. He broke out his patented elbow pass for one of his many assists in the game.
His team won 88-59 with Armstrong taking home the MVP after shooting lights out from three late in the game to pull away.
After the celebrity game, the up and coming stars of the NBA battle it out in a U.S. vs The World matchup, known as the Rising Stars challenge. Any player that is in their first two years of their NBA career is eligible for this one. Usually, this game is full of break-away dunks, wide open threes and lackluster defense.
This game does get competitive by the second half. Frank Kaminsky of the Charlotte Hornets gave the U.S team a lead going into halftime and early in the third quarter with a barrage of three-pointers. He finished the game with 27 points which led the team.
However, the world team took this game over late. The team fell behind with about ten minutes remaining but Jamaal Murray of the Denver Nuggets started getting hot from deep. He knocked down nine three-pointers to finish with 36 points in just 20 minutes of play. Murray and his team put the game away for the world squad in a 150-141 victory. The Canadian guard showed why he was a high draft pick a year ago with his three-point range and ability to create his own shot.
The first night of the weekend is just the icing on the cake.
On Saturday night, the skills challenge, three-point shootout and dunk contest are on display. This event is filled with NBA stars looking to compete against one another for bragging right around the league.
The Skills challenge leads off the night. This is filled with players dribbling around obstacles, making chest and bounce passes into targets and one clutch three-pointer to round out the course. Players of all sizes compete in this event as the big men go against the smaller guards to end the contest. The final round of the event this year consisted of 7’3″Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks going against Gordon Hayward from the Utah Jazz. The race was neck-and-neck throughout, but Porzingis made his final three-point shot to win the contest. This is the second year of the big men vs the guards and the Forwards and Centers have won two years in a row as Karl Anthony-Towns won a year ago.
Following the opening event, the three-point contest gets under way. This is usually a star-studded event as big time players such as Kyrie Irving and last year’s champion Klay Thompson compete against other NBA stars. After one round, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker and Eric Gordon were the three finalists. Gordon and Irving both tied in the final round as Gordon was not able to put away Irving after his hot start. With a tie, the event goes into a tie-breaking round to decide the winner. The tie-breaking round has the same rules as any other round and Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets took home the crown.
The grand finale of the nights ends with the dunk contest. This is historically the most exciting event of the night, but this year did not involve many big NBA names. Defending champion Aaron Gordon came out to defend his crown but he was not able to finish either of his first two dunks in the first round on the first attempt.
The final round consisted of Glenn Robinson III taking home the crown against Derrick Jones Jr. Neither player plays very much on their team and many NBA fans responded with “who?” when they both stepped into the final. Both are high-flying athletes, but Robinson took home the crown after he jumped over multiple people to flush home a reverse slam. This was probably one of the least popular dunk contests, but the story of two unknown guys making the finals makes a good story.
The All-Star game will happen on Sunday night and you can expect more high flyers and highlight plays from the best NBA players in the world. Buckle up, it should be an entertaining high-scoring affair.