Another All-Star Game has come and gone, so for those of you who had better things to do than sit through an over-commercialized, celebrity-centric, weekend-long media extravaganza that culminates in the world’s most glorified pickup game, here is a roundup of the best moments from the NBA’s annual star-studded event…
Friday’s And1 Mixtape Tour flashback moment came courtesy of Kyrie Irving, who put on a dribbling exhibition against Pistons point guard Brandon Knight in the BBVA Rising Stars game like he was channeling a young Phillip Champion.
In a game otherwise dominated by eventual MVP Kenneth Faried, the friendly back-and-forth between Knight and Irving provided the biggest highlight of the night. As Uncle Drew would say, “don’t reach, young blood.”
The annual celebrity game has apparently become a showcase for funnyman Kevin Hart, who not only took home his second consecutive MVP award, but also managed to avoid getting himself ejected from the game this year.
Fastest Man on Earth Usain Bolt proved that he has hops as well as speed, although perhaps not quite enough speed to outrun a hysterical false-start by Kevin Hart in an impromptu footrace.
The grown little man also dropped in on the TNT crew to exact revenge for all the short jokes made at his expense.
What would All Star Weekend on TNT be without the drama, which came in the form of the unceremonious dismissal of NBPLA President Billy Hunter, who was ousted Saturday in a unanimous vote by the player’s association for multifarious grievances. Maybe now he can go back to his life as the fictional villain Samson from Half Baked.
The weekend turned into something of a coming out party for Kyrie Irving, as he won the Three-Point Shootout, while current favorite for Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard took home the trophy for the living sedative that is the Taco Bell Skills Challenge.
Always the most hyped event of the weekend, the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest never fails to disappoint, and significant ink was spilled by sports scribes today re: what needs to be done to “fix” the contest moving forward. Suffice it to say that the event was marred the usual succession of botched attempts, lengthy intervals between contestants, and, despite a few admittedly impressive dunks, overall inferiority to the types of performances that are commonplace in the “amateur” contests that continue to thrive outside of the NBA. But you already knew that.
The biggest disappointment to me personally was watching James White come up short in his first, and perhaps only, chance at immortality in an event that he was seemingly born to dominate. It’s hard to tell if it was simply too much psychological pressure or if, at 30 years of age, he just doesn’t have the springs to pull off some of the more astonishing dunks that we’ve seen from him in the past. Regardless, I’ll always be a fan, and I hope it’s at least some consolation that many inferior dunkers have laid claim to the universally-coveted slam dunk title.
The All Star Game itself followed the usual script of half-hearted play and non-existent defense during the first half, followed by an increased level of urgency and competitiveness in the second half. Kevin Durant scored 30 points or more for the third straight time, Kobe guarded Lebron for 94 feet like his life depended on it (more on that later), and Chris Paul took home the MVP award with 20 points and 15 assists.
Michael Jordan managed to steal some of the spotlight by turning 50, and as if that wasn’t enough, he added more fuel to the fire by picking Kobe over Lebron seemingly by virtue of his grasp of basic math skills.
To which Lebron responded…fuck all y’all.