This recent All-star weekend was the 71st annual event, which coincided with the NBA’s 75th anniversary. This being the league’s diamond jubilee, they pulled out all the stops. The historic event was held in Cleveland, Ohio.
The weekend kicked off on Friday evening with a bang. The 1st night was the Rising Stars games. The games consisted of 4 teams of all young and upcoming talent and rookies in the NBA. Teams were headed and named after 4 legendary NBA hall of famers: James Worthy, Gary Payton, Isiah Thomas and Rick Barry. The Rising Stars games are a 2-round tournament. The first game is a first to 50, and the final is first to 25, to commemorate 75 years of the NBA. Young and promising talents such as Cade Cunningham, Lamelo Ball and Desmond Bane participated in the event.
The evening started off with Team Worthy and Team Isiah. It was an extremely close game ending 49-50 to Team Isiah to take them into the next round, but some players on Team Worthy really showed out and proved their worth on a big stage. Jalen Green was scoring terrifically, putting up 20 of his team’s 49 points but ultimately couldn’t win the game. Team Isiah’s stand out performer was Sadiq Bey, who scored 16, got 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and a block. Team Isiah had lower individual scorers but had a more well-rounded team to edge out team Worthy in the opening game.
Game 2 featured Team Barry vs Team Payton, which was also a very close match up and came down to the last bucket ending 48-50 to Team Barry. Lamelo Ball started for Team Payton and played decent scoring 8, rebounding 2 and assisting 1, but you could tell by watching that he was holding back. Jaden McDaniels and Bones Hyland scored well with 12 and 10 points respectively, but Team Payton just couldn’t pull it together towards the end. Team Barry had a great team performance where the scoring was shared across the team. Evan Mobley played amazingly, scoring 13 rebounding 8 and assisting one, Cade Cunningham also scored 13, rebounded 5 and assisted 6 to help steer team Barry to the win.
The final game of the night was between the 2 winners: Team Barry and Team Isiah. It was a relatively quiet ending to the night ending in a 25-20 win for Team Barry. No one on Team Barry scored over 5 but played well and for each other to win the match. Whereas Precious Achiuwa really showed out for the losing side, scoring 12 and rebounding 3. Despite this, he couldn’t carry the team over the line.
The night ended in celebration for Team Barry, especially for exceptional talent Cade Cunningham who won Rising Star MVP for his performance on the night. This is undoubtedly just a taste of what more he has to offer.
Skills Challenge / 3PT Contest / Dunk Contest
Night 2 kicked off with the skills challenge. 3 teams participated in the skills challenge: The Antentokounmpos (Giannis Antentokounmpo and his 2 brothers Alex and Thenasis), The Rooks which was made of 3 Rookies Cade Cunningham, Josh Giddey and Scottie Barnes. Finally, team 3 was team Cavs which were pretty much the home team, because all 3 were players of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley and Darius Garland. Garland also was selected for the all-star game.
The skills challenge was comprised of 3 mini-challenges: shooting, passing, and an assault course relay race. The first 2 events are worth 100 points and the relay worth 200. The first team to 200 points wins the skills challenge. The Rooks started round 1 with the shooting challenge. This challenge tests the player’s individual ability to knock down open shots all over the court. There are 5 spots on the map all worth differing amounts of points. For example, just outside the paint is worth 2 points, just at the top of the key (3PT range just outside down the middle of the bucket) is worth 3, a corner 3PT is worth 4 and a far-out 3 is worth 5 points. The Rooks kicked off the round with terrific scoring from Giddey, scoring 16 points in his attempt. Cade Cunningham scored 10 and Scottie Barnes scored 6, bringing their total to 32. The Antentokounmpos were up next and didn’t score particularly well. Giannis and Alex both picked up 8 and Thanasis scored only 4, leaving them at 20 points for round 1. Team Cavs ended the shooting challenge with an amazing team display. It started slowly with Jarrett Allen only scoring 5 in his attempt but started to heat up when Evan Mobley only missed 2 shots and scored 18 to bring them from 10 points of winning the first round of the skills challenge. Darius Garland stepped up and delivered. He scored 21 to win the round, with a score of 44 for team Cavs.
Round 2 was the passing challenge where the teams of 3 would have 30 seconds to pass the balls into 3 gates, all worth varying points, to score. The hardest gate moved left and right, was positioned in the middle and was worth 6 points. The left gate moved back and forth and was worth 4 points, and the right gate didn’t move and was worth 2 points. During the 30 seconds, the team of 3 can score in any gate but cannot use the same gate twice. The rooks started round 2 again with a very good score of 88, setting the bar quite high for the other teams. The Antentokounmpos came out next and worked very well together, synchronising scoring in alternate buckets scoring 88 to tie with the Rooks. Team Cavs came out last and looked like they were working the best as a team to score through the gates but somehow couldn’t score as much as the other teams only scoring 70. This round was decided by tie break rules: which team made the most outlet passes and fewest misses, meaning team Antentokounmpo won with these tie break conditions.
The final round was worth 200 points and was the relay race obstacle course. The players will go round the course and complete it and finally, they grab a ball placed on a podium at half court, run to the hoop and score a layup or dunk. When the ball goes in, the next player in the team will repeat the course. The timer stops when the final player scores his bucket. The rooks beat the course in 1:18 seconds meaning the Antentokounmpos had to beat the time to stay in it. They, unfortunately, didn’t make it and lost, getting knocked out of the last round. The Cavs also couldn’t make the time set by the Rooks and lost the challenge, leaving the Rooks to win the 200 points. The rooks and Cavs then had a half-court shootout to determine the winner. Evan Mobley hit the half-court shot quickest to win the challenge for the Cavs.
The 3-point contest had 8 competitors: Desmond Bane, Cj Mccollum, Luke Kennard, Zach Lavine, Patty Mills, Karl Anthony Towns, Fred VanVleet and Trae Young. The contest consisted of 2 rounds. Each round, they have 70 seconds to shoot 5 racks of 5 basketballs positioned all around the 3 pt perimeter. The last ball on every rack is worth 2 points, and the player chooses a money rack beforehand where all 5 balls are worth 2. Between the 5 racks are 2 Mountain Dew zone balls, worth 3 points. Once all participants have their 1st round attempt, the best 3 scores will advance to the final round.
1st round scores
• Desmond Bane 18
• CJ Mccollum 19
• Luke Kennard 28
• Zach Lavine 14
• Patty Mills 21
• Karl Anthony Towns 22
• Fred VanVleet 16
• Trae Young 22
Meaning Trae Young, Luke Kennard and Karl Anthony Towns advance to the finals. The final round is the same as the first, just with more on the line. Kennard scored less than his first attempt with 26, and Trae Young scored much better with a final score of 28. But crucially, Karl Anthony Towns won the contest with a score of 29. The award was presented to him by legendary 3pt shooter and hall of famer Ray Allen.
The Dunk Contest
The dunk contest had 4 participants: Cole Anthony, Obi Toppin, Jalen Green and Juan Toscano-Anderson. The contest was judged by hall of famers such as Isiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins, David Robinson and more. Usually, the dunk contest is the most exciting event during the all-star weekend. But due to the lesser-known participants, the 3pt contest stole the show for how close it was. The contest consisted of 2 rounds, the first where the participants have 2 dunks to get the highest combined score possible. The dunks are graded 1-10. The 2 highest combined scores will go to the championship round. Toscano Anderson and Obi Toppin advanced to the final, and Obi Toppin won the event with a score of 92 in the final round.
The modern format of the all-star game ensures all 4 quarters are competitive, unlike many previous years. The game is split up into 4 individual games (quarters), where the winning team of that game earns money for their selected charity. The captains Lebron James and Kevin Durant both picked teams a couple of weeks before the event on live tv to fill out their respective rosters for the game. Team Durant started off with Jayson Tatum, Andrew Wiggins, Trae Young, Ja Morant and Joel Embiid and Teams James fielded Lebron James, Steph Curry, Giannis Antentokounmpo, Demar DeRozan and Nikola Jokic. Team Lebron won game one by 47-45, winning $100,000 for his charity. Joel Embiid stood out scoring 11 in the first game. Game 2 was won by team Durant with the score being 49-46. Steph Curry made 8 3pt shots in the first half, which set a new all-star game record. Game 3 was a draw 45-45 meaning both teams get $50,000 for their charities, Curry still lead the scoring with 45 points all from the 3-point line. He made 15/21 shots he took at the basket and was looking to break the all-time highest-scoring all-star game record of 52 set by Anthony Davis in 2017. The last quarter was a very closely contested game, coming down to the final possession. Lebron in his hometown of Cleveland got the dagger pretty much in the last second of the game to win it for his team. Despite scoring the winner, Lebron was relatively quiet all game. The real star was Curry, who scored 50 points, rebounded 5 and assisted 2. He really stole the show with his truly all-star performance.
All in all, this all-star weekend was a truly historic one, bringing back the legends of old and crowning the new. This year showed how far the NBA has come in its first 75 years and how far it can go in the future.
Mikey is a Former semi-pro academy footballer with great interest in games, film, anime and multiple sports. He also enjoys comedy in all shapes and is interested in controversial individuals and controversy in general.