On February 15th-17th from Friday to Sunday, the NBA hosted their annual All-Star weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. All-Star weekend is always a fan favorite and allows the NBA’s most talented players to participate in contests or games. It is also an opportunity for them to hang out with other players and celebrities as they take a couple of days to relax from the intense training and regular season. This weekend consists of a variety of events such as the Celebrity Game, the Rising Stars Game, the Skills Challenge, the 3 Point Contest, the Dunk Contest and then the main attraction, the All-Star Game.
These events are all spread throughout the three days, for organizational reasons and for sustainable viewership for each day. The first event was the Celebrity Game, which started at 7PM on Friday. The event was hosted at Bojangles' Coliseum in Charlotte. The celebrity game players list had some notable names such as the Migos’ Quavo, comedian Brad Williams, Ex-NBA player and Hall of Famer Ray Allen, Ex-NFL player Steve Smith, social media star Famous Los, and many other celebrities. This celebrity game was a bit more entertaining to watch this year because the celebrities chosen were capable of scori
ng. By the fourth quarter, the “HOME” team was up by a grand margin. However, because of a late scoring rally by Quavo and Ray Allen, the “AWAY” team only lost by two in what ended up being a 82-80 nail-biter. Perhaps the most intriguing part about the celebrity game is that a four-point line was featured. This is the second time that Ruffles, the sponsor of the Celebrity Game, decided to add in the four point line. Each four-point shot made counted as four points for that person’s team. Also, due to a partnership with the Special Olympics, it contributed $4,000 dollars for a special cause. Last year, the line was added in for the second half of the game. This year it was for the whole game. The line is a couple feet back from the three point line and it is blue, with ridges inside the line to resemble the texture on a Ruffles chip. Ray Allen made sure to raise a ton of money for the good cause. Despite Ray Allen’s shooting performance, the MVP of the game ended up being Famous Los, with an impressive 22 points and 3 assists to go along with the victory and award.
The next event up was the Rising Stars Challenge.The Rising Stars Challenge includes an all-star game where the NBA’s best rookies and second-year players compete and showcase their skills. Every year, two teams, Team World and Team US. The game started out close, but by half-time Team US was winning by more than ten points. It stayed that way, as Team US took the victory in a 161-144 blowout, snapping their two year losing streak to Team World. Second-year player Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers, competing with Team US, took home MVP honors with 35 points and the victory. The honorary coaches for the game was superstar Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics, and 14-time all-star and NBA legend Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks. The young players expressed enthusiasm when they heard that they would be playing in front of NBA all-stars and coached by them. Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics and teammate of Kyrie Irving said, “Yeah, basically, Kyrie’s coaching tomorrow, so I’m going to tell him how much time I’m playing and when I come out, if I come out,” Tatum said.
That was all for the first day of the All-Star weekend, and arguably the most boring one in comparison to the other action-packed days.
On Saturday, as tradition, three contests were played, the NBA Skills Challenge, the 3 Point Contest, and the Dunk Contest. The first contest was the Skills Challenge. The Skills Challenge is a contest that features all aspects of offensive play in basketball, while two players are racing against each other. The players start off dribbling the ball, zig-zagging in between obstacles, where they are then met with a pylon-type shape with a hole inside, where they have to pass the ball through. Once they are done with that, the contestants race down the court to make a layup, where they then come all the way back down the court to make a three. The first person to make a 3 pointer wins and moves on to the next round. The contestants were mostly guards, but there were a couple centers and forwards. Most of the participants were mostly young players who had only been around in the league for 1-2 years. The finals ended up being Jayson Tatum versus Trae Young. Despite both of them nailing the pass through the pylon hole on their first try, Young, the point guard left Tatum in the dust as he jumped out to a lead. By the time Tatum just got to half court, Young had just released his three pointer. However, Trae Young being the prolific three-point shooter that he is, Tatum knew he could not give him a chance to release the first shot ahead of him. Tatum, on the run, decided to fling the ball from half court, and miraculously, it hit the backboard and sunk right through the net as Young’s missed. Jayson Tatum had won the challenge in one of the more exciting ways the viewers and contest had seen. When interviewed after the contest, Tatum said this, "The previous two rounds, the guy was ahead of me," Tatum said. "Figured I'd let him get a shot attempt so I could get closer to the 3-point line. I didn't want to give Trae a chance. I honestly didn't know I was going to hit the shot, but I had to give myself a chance, throw it up there, and it worked out for the best."
The next contest up was the 3 Point Contest. The contestants were all sharpshooters with top of the league 3 point make per attempt percentages. The contestants, besides one, were all either point guards or shooting guards. The highest achievable score a contestant can get is 34 if they make all their shots, including the money ball rack where each ball is worth two points. Most of the contestants had great shooting performances, but the three shooters that moved on to the final round was Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets, Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings, and to no one’s surprise, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors with a whopping 27 points. Entering the final round, Joe Harris set the tone early with an impressive 26 points. Buddy Hield went second, and Stephen Curry went third. Joe Harris ended up winning, but if Stephen Curry had made one more 2 point moneyball, he would have tied Joe Harris. Everyone more or less was a bit surprised to hear that Joe Harris had won, considering that a lot of people did not even know who he was prior to the contest. This 3 point contest overall was one of the stronger ones the NBA has seen as a lot of players came close to tying and even beating Devin Booker’s 3 point contest record of 28 points.
The final contest of the night was the AT&T Slam Dunk Contest. This contest features all of the NBA’s highest-flyers, who show off their creativity and bounce. For the contest, each dunker gets three attempts per dunk and after their dunk 5 judges rate it from a scale of 1-10. If all judges rate it ten, then the highest achievable score is fifty points. The three dunkers with the highest score then move on to the next round. The contestants were Miles Bridges (Hornets), John Collins (Hawks), Dennis Smith Jr. (Knicks), and Hamidou Diallo (Thunder). All the dunks were decent, some better than others, but a particularly emphatic one was done by Hamidou Diallo. In the second dunk of the first round, he called out Hall of Fame NBA player, TNT analyst and the original Superman, Shaquille O’Neal. Diallo cleared Shaq, stuck his elbow in the rim, a nod to dunk contest icon Vince Carter, and ripped open his Thunder jersey to show off the Superman shirt underneath. The crowd erupted and Diallo netted a perfect 50 from the judges. The rest of the contest went Diallo’s way, as he took home the Slam Dunk contest crown, wrapping up Saturday’s night of contest action.
The final night of All-Star weekend was Sunday, where the main event took place, the NBA All-Star Game. The matchup was between Team LeBron and Team Giannis. LeBron James, representing the western conference, drafted his team of superstars which was set to play against Giannis Antetokounmpo’s drafted team of NBA stars. The All-Star Game always has its share of sharpshooters, high-flyers, and adroit dribblers, which ends up producing tons of highlights for the viewers, and it was no different this year. Midway through the second quarter, on a fastbreak, Stephen Curry bounced the ball off the court, sending it flying in the air where Giannis leaped up to an extraordinary height and finished it off with a two hand jam. The crowd erupted, and the clip was posted on many social media platforms. When the buzzer sounded, signaling the end of the first half, Team Giannis was ahead by a margin more than ten. However, led by Kevin Durant (Warriors), Team LeBron mounted their comeback and ended up taking the lead in the first minute of the 4th quarter, maintaining it for the rest of the game and taking the win. Kevin Durant of Team LeBron ended up winning the All-Star Game MVP award with 31 points.
All-Star Weekend this year was a blast to watch not only for the viewers at home, but also for the celebrities that attended these contests and games and hung out with NBA players and other celebrities. Rapper J. Cole, even ended up doing a performance in the arena prior to the All-Star Game on Sunday. All-Star Weekend is also more than something for entertainment. It is a way for players like Joe Harris to show off their shooting talents, or the NBA’s rookies to make a big impression in their first year of the league. Overall, this special weekend was all fun and games and was a nice way for the players to relax amidst the hectic, intense, and playoff-race filled season.