The future is bright for NBA All-Star Weekend as 2020’s weekend was a success
By: Danny Cacace
NBA All-Star Weekend just happened this past week in Chicago, Illinois, and this was one All-Star weekend many NBA fans will not forget.
The last time Chicago hosted the Weekend for the all-star game only, was back in 1988. This was their third time hosting.
Let’s start off with the first event of the weekend which was the All-Star Celebrity Game.
The game featured two ESPN analysts coaching their teams: Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon.
Both analysts are full of personality and passion with the way each one dissect sports, so one would think that they would bring that into their coaching which is what they did. Smith was charged with a technical foul which was the first technical foul given in All-Star Celebrity Game history.
Wilbon’s team was led by rapper and actor Common, American Latin Trap artist Bad Bunny, actor/comedian Hannibal Buress, and many other celebrities. Smith’s team was led by Chance The Rapper, rapper Quavo, rapper Taylor Bennett as well as other celebrities. Wilbon’s team defeated Smith’s team 62-47 with Common taking home the MVP trophy.
The next event was the Rising Stars Game which had Team USA facing off against Team World which had rookies and sophomores from the NBA. The teams outside of America played against each other for their respective teams. Team U.S.A. was led by Hawks star sophomore Trae Young, New Orleans Rookie Zion Williamson, Hornets player Miles Bridges, and others. Team World was led by Mavericks star sophomore Luka Doncic, Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Knicks rookie RJ Barrett, and other young talent.
Team World led for the majority of the game, but team USA went on a huge run in the third quarter, a 27-5 turnaround led by the bench. Young and Williamson put up some note-worthy stats in the game along with Williamson trying to show off to the fans at the end of the game by trying to do three highlight dunks, but he missed all three attempts.
Team USA was able to win the game and beat Team World 151-131 with Miles Bridges claiming the MVP Award finishing with 20 points, five rebounds, five assists, and three steals.
Those two events capped off Friday night’s events, and now we move on to Saturday.
The first event of Saturday night was the Skills Challenge.
This event was led by Heat’s Bam Adebayo, Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, Toronto’s Pascal Siakam, and others. Bam Adebayo won the skills challenge this year. Adebayo took down Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie in the first round, Raptors’ Pascal Siakam in the second round, and faced off against Indiana’s big man Domantas Sabonis in the final round where he claimed champion of the challenge by sinking in the three pointer to win the game.
Adebayo is not known for shooting three pointers as he was 1-11 from three in the regular season before he played in the skills challenge where he finished 3-6.
“I mean, I just won, you know what I’m saying, this thing right here, so I hope [Heat coach Erik Spoelstra] sees this,” Adebayo said after the challenge when asked if he’ll be shooting more three pointers with the Heat now. “He might put it in consideration.”
The next one was the three point contest led by Suns’ Devin Booker, Kings’ Buddy Hield, Atlanta’s Trae Young, and others. The contest added a new feature by now having the Mountain Dew Zone in the contest where there are two spots a little deep from the top left and top right corners of the court which gives players who make a shot from that spot a total of three points.
This contest was one for the ages.
At least five players in the contest were able to go over the 20 point mark with threes made in the contest. Buddy Hield faced off against Devin Booker in the final round and edged Booker by one three pointer beating him with 27 points to Booker’s 26. Hield was then crowned champion of the contest.
The Slam Dunk Contest was the last event of the night, and that was the most controversial one. The participants were Magic’s Aaron Gordon, Bucks’ Pat Connaughton, Heats’ Derrick Jones Jr. and Lakers’ Dwight Howard. Although Howard and Connaughton were able to pull off some good dunks, Jones Jr. and Gordon pulled off better ones and therefore faced off in the final two rounds.
Jones Jr. and Gordon had to outdo one another by thinking of the most creative dunks to pull off. Gordon had 50’s all night which is the highest score you can get in the competition while Jones Jr. had really high 40’s and a couple of 50’s. The two had to go into a dunk off to win the competition and Jones Jr. beat Gordon by a slight margin.
Yet, Jones Jr. was the champion of the contest and Gordon as some people say “Got robbed again,” but that’s entirely up for debate that will live on forever.
The final event of the weekend happened on Sunday night, and that was the NBA All-Star Game where it was Team Lebron facing off against Team Giannis. This game had some rule changes to it due to Kobe Bryant’s recent passing, it changed the game in its entirety. This change actually worked though.
One change was that whichever team won every quarter would be able to donate $100,000 to the team’s choice of charity. Another change was that in every quarter the score would reset to zero and the total at the end of each quarter would be totaled up into the fourth quarter and whatever team has the bigger lead, they would just need 24 more points (which is in honor of Bryant) to win the game.
Team Lebron was down 11 points going into the fourth quarter and the quarter was also untimed, so the first team to get to the target score of 157 points would win the game. An untimed quarter meaning that the clock won’t be running when they start the quarter.
Lebron’s team made a valiant comeback to start the quarter then most of the starters with the exception of Chris Paul, who was already in the game helped team Lebron win the game 157-155. Anthony Davis hit the clutch free throw to win the game after he was fouled and sent to the line to hit the second out of the two free throws he took.
Kawhi Leonard came through with the All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP award which was the new name of the award as well.
The changes to the All-Star game worked, however the dunk contest probably needs some changes with the way it got judged. The celebrity game can use some actual celebrities to get some more viewers to watch that game and the skills challenge worked just fine for me.
The three point contest changes weren’t overbearing for me, but we’ll see what the NBA does in the future with that contest and all these other events.