There are several moments throughout the year when celebrities and actors all gather together: Super Bowl, Grammys, ESPYs, Oscars and this past weekend’s NBA All-Star Weekend. The NBA All=Star Weekend typically holds six events: the Celebrity All-Star game, Rising Stars Challenge, Skills Challenge, Three Point Shootout, Slam Dunk Contest, and the All-Star Game.
The Celebrity All-Star game kicked things off and typically consists of people who are famous in many different areas: rappers, actors, WNBA players, comedians, commentators and even ex-NBA players. This year’s game featured Mike Colter, the breakout star of Netflix’s series Luke Cage, Dr. Oz, A’ja Wilson (2018 WNBA Rookie of the Year), Bad Bunny, Ronnie 2K, Jay Williams (ESPN Commentator), Quavo (2018 Celebrity All-Star Game MVP), Ray Allen and Famous Los (a social media icon). This year’s MVP was Famous Los, an ex-collegiate basketball player from North Carolina, who is now a viral comedian with popular basketball videos. He finished with 22 points and defeated Ray Allen, who was lighting it up from deep.
The Mountain Dew Ice Rising Stars Challenge is all about showcasing the elite rookies and sophomores of the NBA. This year’s rosters pitted Americans against Europeans. Team USA defeated Team World, 161-144. Team USA’s roster included stars such as Jayson Tatum (BOS), Kyle Kuzma (LAL) and John Collins (ATL), who was also in the Slam Dunk Contest.. Team World included Luka Doncic (DAL), Deandre Ayton (PHX), Ben Simmons (PHI) and Bogdan Bogdanovic. Kuzma recorded 35 points and six rebounds to take home the MVP. Collins gave a preview of his slam dunk contest performance by showcasing his vertical abilities with a 360 alley oop from Trae Young and a self-assisted dunk off the backboard. De’Aaron Fox had a game high of 16 assists.
After that, came the Three-Point Shootout, a two-round challenge with five ball racks, consisting of five balls with the last being a money ball (worth two points). 2015 champion Steph Curry held the lead with 27 points over Buddy Hield with 26 points and Joe Harris with 25 points entering the second round. But after the second round, Curry and Hield cooled off. Curry notched 24 points, Hield finished with 19 and Harris came up with 26, enough for the crown.
The Slam Dunk Contest is all about the glitz and glamour of the best dunkers in the game. This year’s participants included Miles Bridges (CHA), Collins, Hamidou Diallo (OKC) and Dennis Smith, Jr. (NYK). Miles Bridges used the assistance of his point guard and hometown favorite, Kemba Walker. Kemba threw an alley off the side of the backboard and Bridges concluded with a 360 dunk. Dennis Smith, Jr. presented two dunks: in one dunk, he jumped over D.Wade with an alley from Steph Curry. In his second dunk, he wore J. Cole’s high school jersey as he dunked over Cole sitting in a chair. Hamidou Diallo scored a 50 dunk over Shaq and finished with the elbow vinsanity dunk. He also dunked over Quavo as Quavo hands him the ball in the air. To show off his vertical abilities, he bounced the ball off the ground and jumped to eye level of the rim. Diallo was named the champion.
The finale of All-Star Weekend is the All-Star Game. Players of the game are voted by NBA fans during the regular season and the top votes are entered into the game. Instead of having the Eastern Conference versus the Western Conference in the All-Star Game, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo decided to have a live draft to select their teammates. Adam Silver, the NBA Commissioner, decided to add Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki as the veteran spots to honor them in their retiring seasons. Team Giannis consisted of Blake Griffin, Nikola Jokic, Kyle Lowry, Khris Middleton, DeAngelo Russell, Nikola Vucevic, Russell Westbrook, Dirk Nowitzki, Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Paul George and Kemba Walker. Team LeBron consisted of Lamarcus Aldrige, Bradley Beal, Anthony Davis, Damien Lillard, Ben Simmons, Klay Thompson, Karl Anthony-Towns, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and James Harden.
J.Cole presented the halftime show with his performance of “ATM,” “Middle Child,” “No Role Models” and “Love Yours.” The crowd got to see what they wanted to see with two lobs between Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Antetokounmpo notched 38 points and 11 rebounds. Joel Embiid notched 10 points and 12 rebounds. Khris Middleton recorded six threes for Team Giannis. However, their collective efforts weren’t enough to stop the King’s team. LeBron and Kawhi dropped 19 points a piece and Damian Lillard showed his range by clinching two threes from the NBA logo. Team LeBron took the win and Kevin Durant took home the MVP with a game-high of 31 points.