With the second half of the NBA season underway, it’s only right to recap the league’s All Star Weekend (ASW), the biggest weekend of the league and one of sport’s biggest weekends besides you guessed it, the Super Bowl.
With Los Angeles serving as the host city, it was befitting that the biggest stars in sports and entertainment were aligned in La-La land for the 67th All- Star weekend in mid-February. On Friday night, ASW weekend kicked it off with its annual Celebrity All Star game featuring Jamie Foxx, “Black-ish” star Anthony Anderson, Rappers Common and Quavo, one-third of the chart-topping hip hop trio Migos, who put his athleticism on display taking home MVP honors. We also got chance to see some of the league’s future stars in the Mountain Dew KickStart Rising Stars game featuring Philadelphia 76ers standouts Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, along Boston Celtics Star Jaylen Brown. Saturday night, arguably the most entertaining night of the weekend, always features the highly anticipated 3-Point & Slam Dunk contests.
The 3-Point contest was an upset as the highly favored Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson was outdone, or rather outshot, by Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker, who took taking the home the title of best 3- point shooter. The night continued with the slam dunk contest. Though it wouldn’t go down as one of the most legendary, there were many standout dunks. Some of which included, recently acquired Cleveland Cavs star Larry Nance Jr., who paid tribute to his father, former NBA great Larry Nance Sr., by donning the same uniform and mimicking the same dunk he did when he participated in the NBA’s first ever Slam Dunk contest in 1984.That dunk was followed by newly acquired Indiana Pacer Victor Oladipo, who got “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman, to assist him by giving the Panther mask to wear while doing a dunk. But it was Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell who would take home the crown as the night’s best dunker with a great series of dunks including dunking over Superstar Kevin Hart and his kids.
On Sunday, February 18th, the big game had arrived and the best of the best in the NBA would play against one another. This year, the ASG took a step away from its traditional East-West format. The league decided to take it to the playground, having two captains, which were the league’s biggest stars LeBron James and Steph Curry, chose their rosters. This new format was a response to the game’s lack of competition with the Western Conference team winning six out of the last seven games. Along with the draft, the NBA also increased the winners’ earnings to restore its high level competition.
While fans at home and those in attendance waited to see how the new format would pan out, they were blessed (or cursed depending who you are) with an unique rendition of the National Anthem from Fergie. Though that was arguably not brightest moment of the night, the new formula was just what the ASG needed as it proved to be a success. As many NBA aficionados saw the past All-Star games as a “glorified lay-up line” with all scoring virtually no defense, the game turned out to be the total opposite. The “defense wins it” mentality kicked into high gear in the last six minutes of the game with a Team LeBron come back along with shutting down Steph Curry, the league’s deadliest shooter, not allowing him to get a shot off in the final seconds, with team LeBron winning 148-145 and its team captain taking home MVP honors.
With the arrival of a handful of players, big name celebrities, NBA legends and, of course, the All Stars, this year’s ASG lived up to its billing in LA. Despite the only drawback on the All- Star game was that the All Star draft was not televised; it was safe to say this was the weekend that saved the NBA All Star weekend and its new format. Viewers and those who plan on being in attendance will definitely have something to look forward to, other than the extravaganza that comes along with the festive weekend. See you next year Charlotte.
By: Jamal Clarke
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