By Daniel Greene and Jahone Green, Sophomores
If you love to watch basketball’s greatest players compete, Toronto, Canada, was the place to be. From February 12-14, emphatic fans from around the globe visited Toronto to have an outstanding experience at All-Star Weekend. The fascinating weekend was highlighted by monstrous dunks, excellent three-point shooting, and thrilling competitions of basketball skills. In case you missed it, here is a recap of the 2016 All-Star Weekend.
The Weekend began Friday night with the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. Team Canada, coached by rapper Drake, defended their home court against Team USA, who was coached by comedian/actor Kevin Hart. The Canadians were led by former NBA All-Star Tracy Mcgrady, who scored a game-high 18 points, and vocalist Win Butler, who posted an impressive 15 points and 14 rebounds. After trailing for most of the game, head coach and four time Celebrity Game MVP Kevin Hart couldn’t take the beating anymore; he got undressed, put on his uniform, and stepped out onto the floor. While the US team attempted a furious comeback, the Canadiens prevailed 74-64.
The next event of the weekend was the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, which also took place Friday night. This intriguing matchup featured young and talented players in the NBA who were in their first or second year in the league. The two teams playing in the game each had ten players; those who were born in the United States were placed on one team and those born outside the United States were placed on the other team. Team USA was led by Zach Lavine (Minnesota Timberwolves), Jordan Clarkson (Los Angeles Lakers), and Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), while Team World was led by Andrew Wiggins (Minnesota Timberwolves), Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks), and Emmanuel Mudiay (Denver Nuggets). The game went back and forth throughout and went down to the wire. The young players from Team USA were able to overcome the challenge brought forth by Team World, as they won the game by a final score of 157-154.
The Saturday night festivities were kicked off with the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. This competition demonstrated the extraordinary talents of the players in dribbling, passing, and shooting. This year, the challenge was organized into big men vs guards. The four guard competitors were Isaiah Thomas (Boston Celtics), CJ Mccollum (Portland Trail Blazers), Emmanuel Mudiay, and Jordan Clarkson. The four competitors for the big men were Anthony Davis (New Orlean Pelicans), DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves), and Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors). Isiah Thomas came out on top for the guards, while Karl-Anthony Towns won for the big men. This showdown between the two winners was anything but expected. While many people believed that Thomas would win, Towns impressed and surprised everyone by defeating Thomas.
Next up on Saturday night was the Foot Locker 3-point contest, which was one of the most anticipated events of the weekend. The competition consisted of shooting 5 balls from 5 different spots on the floor. The contest featured the best 3-point shooters in the NBA, including defending champion Steph Curry and Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors). Thompson opened the event with a round high 23 points and was followed by great performances by Curry and Devin Booker. The three faced off in the final round, where Thompson outdueled Curry and Booker by posting 27 points! This was his first ever win in the 3-point contest and the second in a row by a Warrior.
The final event of the night was the most competitive and captivating competition of the weekend, the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. This competition was composed of some of the best dunkers the NBA had to offer, including Zach Lavine, Aaron Gordon (Orlando Magic), Will Barton (Denver Nuggets), and Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons). High flying and crowd engaging dunks by both Aaron Gordon and Zach Lavine kept fans on their feet the entire contest. The two faced off in the final round of the dunk contest, and after both posting scores of 50/50 on both of their dunks, they were forced to play in a dunk-off. Again, the two impressed with never-before seen dunks and received perfect scores in the first round of the dunk off. Finally, after the judges decided that Lavine’s dunk from the free throw line was better than Gordon’s reverse dunk, Lavine was awarded his second consecutive victory in the dunk contest.
All in all, the weekend was capped off with the 2016 All-Star game, which featured the best players in the planet. The Eastern Conference All Stars were led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kyle Lowry, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George, while the Western Conference All-Stars were led by Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, and Kawhi Leonard. The players captivated everyone in attendance as well as the millions watching at home with insane plays throughout the night. Paul George scored 41 points for the Eastern Conference, but it proved to not be enough, as Russell Westbrook’s MVP performance of 31 points, 5 assists, and 5 steals carried the Western Conference to a 196-173 victory.