The 2017 NBA all-star weekend took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, officially starting on Friday, Feb. 17. The all-star weekend featured some of the greatest names in the NBA and offered different events each player qualifies to compete in.
The fun started with the annual celebrity game. This pickup game featured 23 players whose occupations range from musicians and actors all the way to former basketball legends as well as the suits who actually own the different NBA teams.
The West team featured names such as Aarón Sanchez (celebrity chef), Andy Grammer (musician), Candace Parker (WNBA player) and was hosted by Michael Smith (ESPN host) as well as assistant coach Draymond Green (NBA player).
The East team claimed victory with a final score of 88-59. The teams MVP, Brandon Armstrong (former NBA D-League player) dropped 16 points and 15 rebounds. The rest of their team consisted of Nick Cannon (actor), Marc Lasry (Milwaukee Bucks owner), Lindsay Whalen (WNBA player) and was coached by Jemele Hill (ESPN host) as well as assistant coaches Kyle Lowry (NBA player), Fat Joe and DJ Khaled (rap artists).
The rising stars challenge features only first and second year players from selected teams to showcase their talent as some of the up and coming names in the NBA. Team World includes players who came to play in the NBA from different countries, and team USA is players born and raised in the United States. Despite two injuries on team World (Joel Embiid and Emmanuel Mudiay), they came out on top with a final score of 150-141.
After the D-league all-star game on Saturday, it was time for State Farm all-star night. This sponsored event featured three contests: the skills challenge, three-point contest and the slam dunk contest.
The skills challenge tests a player’s ball handling ability, as well as passing and shooting. Two players initially race down the court dribbling passed obstacles, then they have to “complete a pass” into a net that does not touch the ground. After getting the ball back, they dribble back and shoot a layup. Finally, they dribbled down the court one last time and the first player to make a three from the top of the key wins the race.
The final match put Gordon Hayward (Utah) against the ‘7”3 Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks). Porzingis would win the whole challenge after defeating DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento), Nikola Jokic (Denver) and finally Hayward.
Eric Gordon took the three-point trophy back to Houston for him and the Rockets to put on display after defeating Kemba Walker (Charlotte) and Kyrie Irving (Cleveland) in the final round of the three-point contest.
The dunk contest resulted in Glenn Robinson III (Indiana) defeating Derrick Jones Jr (Phoenix) in the final round. Robinson’s first dunk scored him 91 and his second one earned him a 94. Jones Jr’s first dunk scored an impressive 95, but his second attempt was a lowly 87, giving Robinson the win.
The main event of the entire weekend was the 66th annual all-star game, which puts the best players from the East and the West divisions head to head in what now seems to be a defenseless, alley-oop fest.
I believe the players try harder in the all-star game compared to that of the NFL’s pro-bowl game and I genuinely did enjoy this year’s all-star game. The West came out on top with a 192-182 score.
With so much talent on the court at the same time, the entire game is fast paced, high scoring and fun. Players respect each other and joke around a lot, as it has almost become “uncool” to try during a majority of the all-star contest. In the fourth quarter you see a notable change in the player’s effort, making it enjoyable for anyone just trying to watch a good game.
I believe the game could be even more fun and exciting if legendary names such as Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan were the referees.
The incredibly talented and almost stacked West team gave the MVP award to Anthony Davis (52 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals). Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant dropped 21 points each, James Harden had 12 assists and Russell Westbrook had 41 points.
Despite any tension between Durant and Westbrook after Durant left Oklahoma to play for Golden State, Durant lobbed the ball up to Westbrook who threw it down hard for an exciting alley-oop that got the entire stadium fired up.
Westbrook and Durant do not talk a lot anymore, but Westbrook acknowledged the good pass by tapping Durant on the leg as he ran by as if looking for a high five. Reporters noted this and the two players had nothing but respectful words towards each other.
The East team was led by Giannis Antetokounmpo (30 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals). Lebron James had 23 points and Irving had 22. From the East team’s bench, Isaiah Thomas had 20 points, Lowry had 19 and finally, George and John Wall had 12 points each.
With the all-star weekend in the record books, the regular NBA season is already back in action. The playoffs will start on April 15 and the finals follow on June 1.