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2017 NBA All-Star Game Review

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Billy Sakmann, Sports Editor

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The NBA All-Star weekend was the only extravagant sports event on television this weekend and it was full of great future and current NBA talent along with great family fun.

The first event that kicked off the events on Friday night was the All-Star Celebrity Game. This game featured NBA legends such as Baron Davis, and Jason Williams along with NBA owners Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks and Marc Lasry of the Milwaukee Bucks. The game also featured WNBA stars Candace Parker, Lindsay Whalen, and real TV and movie celebrities such Nick Cannon (America’s Got Talent) and Anthony Mackie (Avengers).

The real star of the show was YouTube NBA player impersonator Brandon Armstrong who took home the MVP with 16 points and 15 rebounds – the East beat the West in this game 88-59. Next on the agenda was the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge. Fans in the stands and the fans at home got the chance to witness the future of the NBA all on one court. Some notable players that participated were Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez of the New York Knicks, Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns, and Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.

The players that played for both Team U.S.A. and Team World are young and talented and have a bright future ahead of them. One rookie that shined above the rest was Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets. He took home MVP honors scoring 36 points to lead all scorers. Team World beat Team U.S.A with a score of 150-141. All-Star Saturday Night commenced with the Taco Bell Skills competition.

The competition pitted big man against big man and guard against guard and then forced the winner of each group to play each other in the final. For years, this competition was only for point guards and ball handlers but now with the emergence of the versatile big man, the NBA decided to include them too. This is the second year this format is in place.

The final featured Porzingis of the Knicks vs. Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz. The key play in this exciting final was the passing portion, Porzingis was able to get his first pass through the tire while Hayward had to take two tries to make it through. This slight advantage allowed Porzingis to run down the court and drain the three to win the whole contest. Sadly, this will be the only accolade the Knicks will accumulate this year. The second event of the night was the JBL Three-Point Contest.

All of NBA nation believed that Klay Thompson would repeat as champion, but that wasn’t the case. Thompson ended up getting knocked out of the first round which gave someone else an opportunity at the crown. The final three were Eric Gordon, Kyrie Irving, and Kemba Walker. Walker hit 17 threes, and both Irving and Gordon scored 20 so that forced an overtime. With both shooters tired and out of gas, Gordon was able to pull out 21 threes to curb Irving’s 18 to pull out the win.

The final event of All-Star Saturday night was the always highly anticipated Verizon Slam Dunk Contest. This year’s contest was very underwhelming and arguably one of the worst slam dunk contests of all time. It started out with DeAndre Jordan jumping over DJ Khaled and his DJ turntables, and then it just got progressively worse from there. Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic decided to get technical with his dunk by bringing out a drone.

The drone was supposed to drop the ball from above the rim, Gordon was supposed to let it bounce and then do a through-the-legs dunk. The drone did its job, but Gordon wasn’t able to fulfill his end of the what-could-have-been dunk. This could have been one of the greatest dunks of all time because of the drone being present. The rest of the contest featured the remaining participants jumping over two to three people and repeatedly missing each dunk. The winner of the contest almost by default was Glenn Robinson III of the Indiana Pacers.

When you think of the NBA All-Star game you think of in-season rivals joining forces to defeat the opposing coast. In this game, there aren’t any rivalries or feuds, it is just friends getting together to have a million dollar show off your skills competition.

Sunday night was a little different because there was a heated feud going on that was very prevalent. That feud was Russell Westbrook vs. Kevin Durant. There were rumors that Westbrook wasn’t going to pass Durant the ball, there were other rumors that West coach Steve Kerr was going to put Golden State’s four All-Stars in with Westbrook. To add fuel to the fire Westbrook even warmed up at the opposite end of the court, in order to keep his distance from Durant. With all that being said, there was a revelation in the first quarter. Durant had a fast break with Westbrook running up the court, Durant looked to his right, threw it up and Westbrook slammed it home. It was a thing of beauty, and for that slim second it had almost felt that they were friends again.

The Durant and Westbrook feud wasn’t the only thing happening in this year’s All-Star Game. It had seemed that each player either took a three or drove down the lane for an easy dunk. The only player that didn’t seem to do either was Carmelo Anthony who always seems to miss mid-range jump shots.  One of the brightest performances came from Buck star Giannis Antetokounmpo. Antetokounpo put on a dunking highlight reel, and each one of those dunks could have won the dunk contest from the night before. One of his best dunks of the night came when he jumped over Steph Curry and as the kids say “yammed” on him for the putback slam. The dunk caused DeAndre Jordan to have the same reaction he had to his own dunk when he posterized Brandon Knight a few years ago. LeBron James, Durant and Westbrook all put on great offensive performances with 23, 21, and 41 respectively with Durant throwing in a triple double.

The real star of the show was hometown hero Anthony Davis who broke Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star game record of 42 points, with his own 52 points, and 10 rebounds. Davis scored 20 in the fourth quarter to help the Western Conference beat the East 192-182. Overall, this was a very enjoyable All-Star weekend and it leaves NBA fans ready for a very tight second half of the season. It is going to be fun to see who come out on top. The New Orleans Pelicans also acquired DeMarcus Cousins from the Sacramento Kings, so that should make things a lot more interesting in the West as the second half rolls around.                             

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2017 NBA All-Star Game Review