5 Things You Might Have Missed From The NBA All Star Weekend That Everyone Is Talking About
Today, more than ever, athletes have transcended beyond being extraordinary talents of their respective sports to becoming icons. The impact of prominent athletes can be seen everywhere – from collaborating with the biggest fashion brands, to lending their voices in backing different social movements, inspiring and influencing legions of fans. These fans are the most powerful driving force behind the success of any athlete and sports league, including the NBA, and the All Star Weekend is one of the NBA’s many ways of giving back to the fans.
Team LeBron? Team Giannis? Slam Dunk Contest? The NBA All Star Weekend is upon us, and here’s a quick guide on what’s about to go down as basketball’s best and brightest stars descend upon the Queen City of Charlotte.
Hosted every February by the NBA, no regular games are played during the All Star Weekend (thus the term, All Star Break), and the All Star games do not affect team standings.
1. Games Kick off with an All Star Celebrity game and this year’s roster was superb
The weekend kicked off with the The All Star Celebrity game where retired NBA legends, WNBA stars, and celebrities made up two teams that play one another. The star studded rosters have ranged from Justin Timberlake, Ansel Elgort, even Victoria’s Secret Model Erin Heatherton, to four-time MVP Kevin Hart all taking part in what is always an entertainment filled exhibition game.
The roster for this year was a mix of names from entertainment and beyond: For the Home team it was Mike Colter from Netflix’s Luke Cage, musician Chris Daughtry, Dr Oz, and actor JB Smoove. For the Away team, they had AJ Buckley from SEAL, actor Hasan Minhaj, rapper Quavo, actor Amanda Seales, and Basketball Hall of Famer Ray Allen. For this game, the Home team won, with an amazing display of sportsmanship by Ray Allen.
2. The games range from skill competitions to 3-point contests, so there’s something for everyone
This was followed by a showcase of the league’s future faces in the Rising Stars Challenge as first and second year NBA players are drafted into Team World and Team USA. Rookie sensation Luka Doncic headlined Team World with 2018 Rookie of the Year (and Kendall Jenner’s current beau) Ben Simmons. Team USA was led by the 2018 Slam Dunk champion Donovan Mitchell.
All Star Saturday
Saturday started off with the Skills Contest, where eight handpicked NBA stars competed against each other in different obstacle course basketball drills. The much awaited 3 Point Contest follows, headlined by Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
Closing the second day was the Slam Dunk Contest (previously won by NBA greats like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant) where four of the NBA’s high flyers take the court and compete against each other, and are scored based on a panel of judges’ point system.
3. We checked out the OOTDs of the various wives and girlfriends at the games
Here are some of the amazing reactions we found, starting from the wife of Dirk Nowitzki when he hit back-to-back 3s,
and Dwayne Wade’s wife Gabrielle Union’s heartfelt message to her husband.
While Kendall Jenner was spotted in Starbucks with her boyfriend Ben Simmons.
4. We’re all in for the All Star Game and its new rules
The highlight of the weekend was of course, the NBA All Star Game, where two teams made up of the NBA’s best battle it out in a fun filled, high energy exhibition game.
The selection process
Previously, the two teams were divided based on conference – East and West. Based purely on fan votes, the top five vote getters each conference made up the respective starting five, with the remaining seven chosen by coaches making up the bench.
The new format
Last year, the NBA introduced a new format where fans, media, and players vote for the starting lineups, with the reserves being voted in by the coaches. Ten players (five from each conference) make up the starters roster, while twelve players (seven from each conference) voted in by coaches make up the reserve roster.
The top vote getters in the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively, serve as the East and West Captains – and they get to draft their own teams, regardless of conference. The respective captains first choose from the pool of starters, and then the pool of reserves to complete their teams. This year, the NBA went even further and televised the draft – meaning the world, and the players, know who was picked first, and last! Oh, the drama.
Future Hall of Famers Dwayne Wade (aka Mr. Gabrielle Union) and Dirk Nowitzki, who are both expected retire after this season, were also included as special additions to the All Star Draft.
LeBron James, the former face and king of the Eastern Conference for more than a decade, rocked the NBA world last July when he announced his big move to the West – under the glittering Hollywood lights of the Los Angeles Lakers. Naturally, he was the top vote getter and named captain of the West (a title formerly held by Steph Curry). The power vaccum left by LeBron in the East paved the way for a new East Captain, Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, or the Greek Freak, (who Kobe famously challenged to win an MVP). Both teams will be playing for respective chosen charities.
The All Star Draft
LeBron, being the overall top vote getter, drafted the reigning Finals MVP Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors as the first pick for the second straight year, and Giannis quickly responded with two time MVP (and Durant’s teammate) Steph Curry. LeBron went on to draft his former teammate Kyrie Irving, defensive specialist Kawhi Leonard, and reigning MVP James Harden; while Giannis drafted first time all star Joel Embiid, MVP candidate Paul George, and Charlotte’s own Kemba Walker. The draft went back and forth, ending with LeBron drafting his best friend Dwayne Wade into Team LeBron; also a win for Giannis as he gets to play with his childhood idol Dirk Novitzki.
Team LeBron – LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Damian Lilliard, Ben Simmons, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal, Dwayne Wade
Team Giannis – Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Paul George, Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, D’Angelo Russell, Nikola Vucevic, Kyle Lowry, Dirk Nowitzki
5. We're tickled pink that a lot of our predictions came true!
PREDICTION: New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis and LeBron are expected to make a splash together – after Davis’ public declaration of a trade request, widely believed to be a future move to the Lakers. Fans are also anticipating a Kyrie-LeBron reunion as they both formerly played and won a title for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Long time best friends LeBron and Dwayne Wade will share the court together as teammates one last time for Wade’s #OneLastDance.
Giannis went for showtime – drafting (and even trading for) Russell Westbrook and Joel Embiid to be on the same team, as the two superstars with equally big personalities have a feud that has played out quite entertainingly. Moreover, the tandem of Giannis and court general Steph Curry are sure to have showstopping plays that will light up All Star Weekend.
HOW IT WENT DOWN: It was a Team LeBron rally that flipped a 20-point deficit into a win of 14 points (178-164) that had the fans on their feet. Though the game started strong for Giannis Antetokounmpo, and they kept their double digit lead until the first quarter up until half-time, Team LeBron just wouldn't give up. And what a night it was to see some epic moments: Dwayne Wade playing for the last All Star as he is retiring at the end of the season, and Kevin Durant scoring 31 points and seven rebounds.
And though Team LeBron was expected to edge out Team Giannis by just a few points—which did happen—the true winners of the All Star Game are of course, fans like us (with our husbands and boyfriends) who get to watch the best of the best come together in one weekend.
For NBA All Star Weekend highlights go to ABS-CBN Sports and Action.
Lead photos from @nbaallstar