All-Star Weekend Recap!
Bad Men, Bad Takes – Season 1
The All-Star weekend has come and gone for another year, and what a great display of basketball it was! The Skills challenge, three-point contest and dunk contest delivered a mixed bag of results, but the game itself delivered and what a show the League put on for the greatest 75 players to ever play the game during half-time!
As fans now get four whole days to decompress and ready themselves for the home stretch of the season, let’s take a more in depth look into the All-Star Weekend that was.
First off, I loved this format. Three teams going against one another, each with three competitors. We saw Team Rookie comprised of Cade Cunningham, Josh Giddey and Scottie Barnes, Team Antetokoumnpo made up of the three brothers Giannis, Thanasis and Alex, as well as Team Cavaliers with home-town favourites Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.
The star power in this was insane and what’s more is that you could tell Giannis ACTUALLY cared. That aspect was phenomenal. The desire of Giannis to win despite carrying his far less talented brothers, the up and coming Cavaliers teammates and the unique skill-sets of the Rookie team were compelling viewing.
Evan Mobley, Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen celebrate their victory. Credit: NBC Sports
All in all, Team Cavaliers took out the win after a tie-break to qualify for the final event, with rookie Evan Mobley hitting this clutch half-court shot to take home the hardware. More of this next year please – a hometown team, a rookie team and a high-profile player with some lesser known teammates is a great recipe for entertainment which covers all bases.
Some argue this should be the main event of All-Star Saturday night (more on that later) and the contest delivered. You had Karl-Anthony Towns claiming himself as the greatest shooting big ever in the lead-up, fan favourites Trae Young and fellow All-Stars Zach LaVine and Fred Vanvleet, as well as sharp-shooters Desmond Bane, CJ McCollum and Luke Kennard, Let’s not forget Aussie Patty Mills also!
The field was great and while it took a little while to get going after the first two shooters failed to set the scoreboard on fire, Luke Kennard’s 28 in the opening round put a bullseye on his back heading into a final with Karl-Anthony Towns and Trae Young. KAT lead off and LIT. IT. UP. 29 was a formidable score to beat and by half-way through Trae Young’s racks, he couldn’t beat Towns and eyes turned to Clippers sniper Luke Kennard.
Karl-Anthony Towns joins an honored list of bigs to win the three-point contest. Credit: SportsLumo
Kennard looked disappointed with himself after shooting for 28 in the opening round and hopes were high, but he too failed to rise to the occasion, logging 26 along with Young, as KAT took out the event.
Overall, the tension, particularly in the final round and the general pace of the event kept this light and very viewable for fans. It’s approachable, well executed with the inclusion of the Mountain Dew balls giving extra points in addition to players placing a ‘money ball rack’ in their preferred hot-spot gives each round a different dynamic and feel from the last.
As the three-point shot continues to gain prominence around the league and becomes arguably the most important aspect of the game, some are calling for this to become the main event of All-Star Saturday Night, and it’s hard not to agree after this year.
SLAM DUNK CONTEST:
So, you know how I said the Three-Point Contest was viewable for fans due to its different dynamics in each round and the general pace of the event? The Dunk Contest was the opposite. This is a pet-hate event for me – when it lives up to expectations, it’s hands down the best event of the day, but when it fails, like this season, it’s a chore just to sit through.
Cole Anthony’s first dunk, featuring a throw-back to his dad’s playing days and wearing Timbs on his feet instead of basketball shoes, was a decent start. While the theatre was appreciated and something we’ve come to see surrounding the dunks themselves, the dunk had substance and only lost a little of it’s impact despite needing three attempts to complete.
It all went down-hill from here.
All dunkers, particularly rookie Jalen Green, simply couldn’t execute on their first, second or even third attempts which sucks the life out of the building. Multiple players attempted to hype the crowd up for their approaches to the hoop, only to be met with a crowd that felt as though they were creaming back “give us something to cheer about”.
Jalen Green’s dunks looked the most creative and complex, but many failed to land, resulting in him failing to reach the final. Credit: The Dream Shake
It’s a shame Green didn’t make the final, as I believe he has the most athleticism in the field and also attempted some ridiculously complex dunks in the first round, but alas, we ended up with Golden State’s Juan Toscano-Anderson and New York’s Obi Toppin in the Final.
Toscano-Anderson failed to emulate Vince Carter’s ‘elbow hang’ dunk on his first attempt, and failed to complete his second, while Toppin hit his between-the-legs, windmill slam on the third attempt before his bizarre and under-rated but unspectacular off-the-backboard dunk sealed the win.
Overall, this was one of the worst contests in recent years. The combination of un-inspiring dunks and contestants failing to land them without needing five-minutes and ‘three’ attempts to do so meant the atmosphere suffered and there was next to no excitement left in the arena. This Dunk Contest validates why some believe the Three-Point Contest should be the shining star of Saturday night festivities.
Hey this is cool! What a novel idea! Get the best shooter in the history of the world and let him shoot as many stupid deep threes as he wants and see how many go in! What’s that? 16 of them? Jesus – that sounds like a great All-Star game!
That’s pretty much how it played out too. Steph Curry lit up the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse and totalled 50 points on his way to taking home the newly designed Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP Award. The only downside to his performance was that Anthony Davis still holds the All-Star game points record with 52 – a title Steph should’ve taken but he missed his finals few shots in the last quarter on the race to 163.
In a game full of future Hall of Famers and Top 75 Players, Steph Curry stood out among the pack. Credit: Fadeaway World
LeBron James found his shooting touch in the second half after a rough start and even hit a clutch game-winner over two defenders to hold off Team Durant in his native Ohio – a fitting end to the game.
Overall, a somewhat lack-lustre first half was replaced by teams trying on defence and a tense final quarter which resulted in a tight game and many memorable moments. This format is so much better than older formats – but please, let the teams play out a full 12 minutes in the fourth rather than a set total!
NBA 75 CEREMONY:
I genuinely thought the celebration at half-time was pretty good. The entertainment and music fitted the occasion and set the mood, the stage was set well and the visuals all gave the ceremony a sense of presence, but there were a few things that baffled me.
Why have music artists and the like give the speeches introducing the categories (forwards, centres, guards etc). Wouldn’t it have been more impactful to have either players from those categories (or even current players at those positions) or former NBA Championship winning coaches from some of the greatest teams ever talk about the position and how important it is to success? It wasn’t bad, but I felt like it was a missed opportunity.
How many people DIDN’T attend the ceremony in Cleveland? I was astonished. Scottie Pippen, Tim Duncan, Karl Malone, Russell Westbrook – none of them were there. I understand some who are either too old to travel or have health complications, but there was an astonishing amount of the Top 75 not actually in the building.
Adam Silver, as the current Commissioner of the NBA, had literally nothing to do with the celebration. Why wasn’t he reading out the player’s accomplishments and names as they were honoured? I thought that was a missed opportunity.
Overall, however, it was a great ceremony and why there are aspects I thought represented missed opportunities, it was a fitting ceremony and one that I personally felt was better than the 50th Anniversary celebrated in Cleveland 25 years ago.
That’s a wrap – get some rest and we’ll be back with another edition of the podcast soon as we click into the home-stretch of the regular season!
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