A number of the best jump shooters, dunkers, and three-point shooters met up in Orlando, FL this weekend to give the basketball fans the mid-season show they’ve been waiting to see: NBA All-Star Weekend.
The list of events started on Friday evening with the celebrity basketball game at the Orange County Convention Center. And although this game was the least serious and skilled of the events throughout the weekend, fans looked forward to the comedic trash talking and the A and B-list celebs.
Comedian Kevin Hart stole the show, maintaining his seriously funny dynamic. Even after getting hit with a technical foul, then getting ejected from the game, the laughs didn’t cease. The others celebs in the line-up included rappers J.Cole and Common, singer Ne-Yo, Vinny from MTV’s “Jersey Shore”, and many others.
A few interstates away, the Rising Stars, between the hottest rookies and sophomores in the league, took place in the newly built Amway Center. Former hoopers Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal managed the opposing teams, titling them Team Chuck and Team Shaq.
The rookie/sophomore challenge, which is meant to showcase up-and-coming NBA stars, included familiar faces such as John Wall of the Washington Wizards, DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, and Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James’s old team, who took home the most valuable player award.
The most anticipated events however, took place in the latter portion of the weekend: the shooting stars competition, the skills challenge, three-point-shoot out, and the slam-dunk contest, which has been quite subpar in recent years.
Team New York dominated the Haier Shooting Stars Competition. It consisted of ex-Knick baller Alan Houston and Stanford alum and current Knick shooting guard Landry Fields, alongside New York Liberty’s Cappie Pondexter.
The champion of the skills challenge was the San Antonio Spurs’ own Tony Parker. The winner of the shooting star competition also allowed one teen to receive a $25,000 scholarship.
The three-point-shootout ended up being a competition between two NBA favorites, Boston’s Rajon Rondo, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and NBA newbie Kevin Love of Minnesota. The trophy however, went to Love in a 17 to 14 victory over DC native Durant.
The highly anticipated, yet lukewarm dunk contest was Saturday’s final event. Most, if not all of the participants, were unnoticeable to the typical NBA fanatic’s eye. However, they did attempt to bring the heat. Scoring an average of 5.6 minutes per game, the “Human Pogo Stick,” aka Jeremy Evans, is now a household name beyond the Utah Jazz fans. Evans’s crowd-pleasing gimmicks included a dunk over comedian Kevin Hart, while sporting Utah Jazz great Karl Malone’s jersey and dunking two balls into the net at once.
Other participants included, Houston’s Chase Budinger, Indiana’s Paul George, and Minnesota’s Derrick Williams.
As for the main event, it was literally L.A. versus Miami, mixed with a little Chi-town, the Big Apple and some Orlando magic. As the East trailed the West the entire game, at least the viewers got to see some of the fiery dunks and across the court passes they yearned for from the night before. All the starters scored double digits, and D.Wade finished off with a triple double. However, his faulty layup at the end of the fourth quarter and a sloppy turnover by LeBron cost the East a loss that could have been an astonishing win – despite LeBron being the key factor in the East’s revival from a 20 to a one-point deficit.
So, while Bron Bron headed straight for the bench, while everyone else had good sportsmanship, Kevin Durant was awarded MVP, giving him a little more to add to his NBA resume. And his teammate, Kobe Bryant surpassed Air Jordan’s record leading scorer in NBA All Star game history.