As with every year, approximately midway through the regular season, the NBA takes a weeklong break with intentions of allowing players to rest. The weekend that falls within this period is the NBA All-Star Weekend, 3 days of activities involving different players from different teams, celebrating their achievements and the game of basketball as a whole. This year’s break began on the 16th of February, with games resuming on the 23rd.
The first day of the All-Star Weekend, which was hosted in New Orleans, featured the annual Celebrity All-Star Game. Stars from multiple different fields showed up to express their love for the sport and appreciate the culture of basketball. Some notable celebrities were actor Ansel Elgort, chef Aaron Sanchez, entrepreneur Mark Cuban, and TV personality Nick Cannon.
As usual, the game was coached by NBA players and celebrities had a very friendly environment as the people involved are not always at a fitness level to play competitively. That being said, the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award was granted to Brandon Armstrong, who played for the Eastern Conference team and boasted 16 points as well as 15 rebounds. The East ended up with a blowout win of 88 -59.
These events often create memorable moments; this year the famous ‘Mannequin Challenge’ was attempted in the second half of the celebrity game. Videos of this occasion flooded social media websites and brought more attention to the event.
The second day of the weekend featured 3 events, the Skills Challenge, the Three-point Contest, and the Slam Dunk Contest. Kristaps Porzingis, a New York Knicks player, won the Skills Challenge and successfully made the case that large players in the NBA (Bigs) could be skillful, despite their reputation of being slow and stiff.
The Three-Point Contest was the most competitive event of the night; it ended with an overtime period between Kyrie Irving (Cleveland) and Eric Gordon (Houston), in which Gordon won with 21 of 34 points made in the given time.
The last event of the second night, the Slam Dunk contest is usually highly anticipated but, in comparison to last year’s contest, the performances were not great. Aaron Gordon, the runner-up from the previous year, disappointed the audience as he barely managed to score his dunks. Glenn Robinson III (Indiana) came out on top with a 94-87 win over Derrick Jones Jr. (Phoenix) based on the judges’ ratings.
The last day of the All-Star Weekend is reserved for the major event, the All-Star Game, a game between the best players of the Eastern Conference and Western Conference of the NBA. To most, playing in this game is an honor and one of the highest achievements in the NBA.
This year’s game had some experienced All-Star contestants such as Lebron James (Cleveland) and Carmelo Anthony (New York), who have been picked for this event 13 times and 9 times respectively. On the other hand, some players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee) and DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles) were playing their first All-Star game, providing a bit of diversity on the court.
Due to the significance of this event in American culture and its history of being enjoyable and interactive, many influential people were in attendance, such as power couple Jay-Z and Beyoncé. Other celebrities spotted at the Smoothie King Center, the All-Star Game venue, were Chris Tucker, Michael B. Jordan, Magic Johnson, and many current and retired NBA players who came to support their teammates.
In addition to a great introduction to the game by The Roots band, the game itself was quite a historic one as the East team managed to score 53 points in one single quarter and the game ended with 192-182 for the West team, one of the highest scoring All-Star games ever.
Notable highlights of the game included an assist from Kevin Durant (Golden State) to previous teammate Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City). This came as a shock because of the recently-present tension between them that resulted in Durant leaving the Oklahoma City team to increase his own chances of winning a championship.
Anthony Davis (New Orleans) won the MVP award with a record breaking 52 points, scored in front of his home audience. He has been displaying some great potential throughout the season and has now received something to show for it.
To add to the festive environment of this game and weekend, ‘Mardi Gras,’ a widely celebrated holiday in New Orleans, is taking place on Tuesday, February 28. This refreshing experience is done in hopes of allowing the players to have a change of routine before pushing through the NBA Playoffs in the summer.
That being said, the weekend provided some entertaining moments and memories, including 14-year-old Jarrius Robertson – who suffers from Liver Disease – going around and interviewing players over the weekend and scoring a point during the celebrity game. Gestures like that, as well as the dazzling performances during the main event, made it a successful All-Star Weekend.