NBA All-Star Weekend

Cameron Mays ‘21

The NBA All-Star weekend in Chicago is fast approaching on February 15 to the 17, and to get you ready for all of the festivities, here is a quick breakdown of what the events are, and who is participating in them.


The weekend in whole is going to be a tribute to Kobe Bryant – an NBA Legend that was killed with his 13 year old daughter, Gianna, and eight other people in a helicopter crash in California. Kobe, an 18 time All-Star, will weigh heavy on everybody’s mind throughout the weekend


The first main event of the weekend is the Celebrity All-Star Game on Friday the 14 at 7:00 p.m. In this game, celebrities from all different professions put their basketball skills to the test in a game that is entertaining, but makes you wonder if you are just as good as some of the celebrities. The teams will be coached by Michael Wilbon, a cohost on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, and every sports fan’s favorite personality, Stephen A. Smith, also on ESPN. On the teams, there are comedians, athletes, business owners, artists, and chefs that will play in the game. 


Moving into the actual NBA player events: the NBA Rising Stars game on Friday at 9:00 p.m. In this game, players in their first or second NBA season are chosen to showcase their up-and-coming talents. This game is significant as it gives a good insight into who the next big players are going to be. And while it is a fun game, players from teams are trying to do their best to make a name for themselves in the basketball world. The teams are divided into a US team and a World team. 


On the US team, the roster is: Charlotte’s Miles Bridges, PJ Washington, and Devonte’ Graham, Cleveland’s Collin Sexton, Memphis’s Jaren Jackson Jr and likely Rookie of the Year Ja Morant. Miami’s Kendrick Nunn, and Golden State’s Eric Paschall. The projected Rookie of the Year until he got hurt and missed two months of the season, New Orlean’s Zion Williamson, and finally, Atlanta’s scoring machine Trae Young.


On the World team, the roster is: New Orlean’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton, New York’s RJ Barrett, Memphis’s Brandon Clarke, last season Rookie of the Year from Dallas, Luka Doncic, Oklahoma Cities Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Washington DC’s Rui Hachimura and Moritz Wagner, Detroit’s Svi Mykhailiuk, and Minnesota’s Josh Okogie.


Next on the schedule is the Skills Challenge at 8:00 p.m on the 15. In this event, eight players go through an on-court obstacle course that tests their dribbling abilities, passing accuracy, speed, and shooting ability. Players compete one on one, and the winner moves on in a single elimination style tournament. 


The participants this year are Guards: Patrick Beverly from the L.A Clippers, Khris Middleton from Milwalkee, Spencer Dinwiddie from Brooklyn, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander from Oklahoma City. The Forwards participating are: Domantas Sabonis from Indiana, Jayson Tatum from Boston, Bam Adebayo from Miami, and Pascal Siakam from Toronto.


After the Skills Challenge ends is the 3-Point Contest. The best three point shooters from around the league participate in this event where they have 70 seconds to shoot 27 shots from five different locations around the three point line. This year’s participants are Devonte’ Graham from Charlotte, Zach LaVine from Chicago, Duncan Robinson from Miami, Trae Young from Atlanta, Buddy Hield from Sacramento, Davis Bertans from Washington DC, Damian Lillard from Portland, and defending champion, Joe Harris from Brooklyn.


After the 3-point contest is the Slam Dunk Contest. This classic competition has the leagues high flyers use their agility and creativity to dunk in front of judges who score each dunk 0-50. The two top dunkers from this round move on to the finals where they dunk another two times. In recent years, the Slam Dunk Contest has been lacking in the competitiveness and creativity that fans usually enjoy from this competition, so it is important that the dunkers recapture the love the fans are losing for the contest.


The participants this year are L.A Lakers big man Dwight Howard, finalist in 2017, Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr., 2016 finalist, Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, and Milwaukee’s Pat Connaughton.


On the 16 at 8:00 p.m in the highly anticipated All-Star Game between Team LeBron and Team Giannis, the best players will compete in a game that will feature tons of scoring and not much defense. 


However, there are some changes made to the formatting and rules this year. CBS reports that to honor Kobe, “The score will be reset to 0-0 after the first and second quarters. The winners of the first, second and third quarters will receive $100,000 per quarter to donate to a Chicago-based charity of the captain’s choice. At the end of the third quarter, the total scores from each quarter will be combined, as it would be in a typical game. The fourth quarter will be untimed. Instead, a target score will be set by adding 24 points (Bryant’s old uniform number) to the total of whichever team has the lead through three quarters (i.e, if the team in the lead has 100 points, the target score would be 124). The first team to reach that target would win the game. The winning team will receive another $200,000 to donate to charity, bringing the total up to $500,000.”


The players for Team LeBron are: Starters, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Luka Doncic, James Harden, and Kawhi Leonard. The reserves are: Nikola Jokic, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Domantas Sabonis, Ben Simmons, Jayson Tatum, and Russell Westbrook.


The players for Team Giannis are: Starters, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakam, Kemba Walker, and Trae Young. The reserves are: Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Rudy Gobert, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Lowry, Khris Middleton, and Donovan Mitchell.


This weekend will certainly be fun and entertaining to the sports community, but it will also pay an important tribute to a man that inspired so many current players and fans of not only the NBA, but of every sport. Kobe’s contributions to the game of basketball will be forever appreciated, and while it is upsetting to lose a great player, father, and friend so early, the only thing to do is to play on.