The NBA All-Star Weekend happened last week from Feb. 16 to 18 in Staples Center in Los Angeles. This was a weekend for the All-Stars to celebrate the league, and for all the fans to see their favorite players compete. Even though the most highlighted moment was Fergie’s rendition of the national anthem, there were seven events over the three-day span, all culminating in the new All-Star game format. The most hype for the event was around three events—the dunk contest, the three-point contest and the All-Star game.
Verizon Slam Dunk Contest
The dunk contest this season had high expectations. Participants were Dennis Smith Jr. (Dallas Mavericks), Larry Nance Jr. (Cleveland Cavaliers), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz) and Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers).
The first round had quite a few misses and underwhelming dunks. However, there were some standout performances with perfect 50s given out from the panel during the course of the first and second rounds. Mitchell earned a 50 on his first dunk during the final round, with his signature self-assist off the backboard dunk. Nance Jr. replicated the same dunk to earn the same score. Smith Jr. also got a 50 with a between-the-legs reverse 360 dunk.
The final round was between Nance Jr. and Mitchell. It was a back-and-forth contest, with Nance Jr. imitating dunks from his father, who won the 1984 dunk contest. His signature dunk with a double backboard tip dunk was extremely impressive. Mitchell, on the other hand, ended up going with a different theme of honoring famous NBA dunk contestants. He replicated Vince Carter’s reverse 360 dunk which got him a score of 48 which was just enough to win the contest.
Winner: Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
JBL Three-Point Contest
With all the NBA’s top three-point shooters in this contest, it was an interesting competition resulting in an interesting ending. Stephen Curry decided not to attend this season, making Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors the favorite.
Last year’s winner Eric Gordon was unable to get out of the first round. What was even more shocking was Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who only scored 9 points. In comparison, comedian Kevin Hart scored 12 points in this contest when he was challenged by the Warriors’ Draymond Green in 2016.
The eventual winner was Devin Booker, who shockingly hit a three-point contest record of 28 points. Thompson was a close second in the final round, scoring 25 points.
Winner: Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
All-Star Game: Team Stephen vs. Team LeBron
This was a new format for the NBA All-Star game. After the summer, when most of the NBA power shifted from the East to the West, players and the media were concerned about the competitivity of the game. As the fan viewership was going down, the NBA players and the commissioner got together to determine how to make the game more competitive and entertaining.
The result was the new format, where the highest fan vote-getters became the team captains of their respective teams. With Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers being selected as captains, both participated in a draft of selecting their teams.
This made the game hyper-competitive, with Team LeBron ultimately winning it all. This, however, was the simple explanation of what happened. Both teams went back and forth, with Team Curry taking the early lead. Team LeBron came back though, with LeBron and Durant leading the charge.
Team Curry had a chance to tie the game up on a buzzer beater, but with LeBron and Durant double-teaming Curry, he couldn’t get a shot off. Team LeBron won 148-145.
Winner: Team LeBron