When I was in middle school, I was obsessed with the All-Star Game. A game that involved Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Allen Iverson, T-Mac, and Shaq? Yes, please.
Over the years, however, as the All-Star Game (and weekend) got bigger, I kind of lost interest. The musical performances were awful and the effort exerted in the actual games was slim to none.
That changed with John Wall’s unbelievable performance in the dunk contest last year. The dunk contest had gotten stale over the years (I can’t remember one memorable dunk between Vince Carter’s performance in 2000 and John Wall’s performance last year except maybe Nate Robinson’s wins in 2006, 2009, and 2010 but that’s only because he’s short) and the All-Star game was less than thrilling. The three-point contests never made a whole lot of sense because they rarely starred a line-up of the eight best shooters in the league, and the celebrity game seemed unnecessary.
This year’s All-Star weekend looks to continue the success of last year but in different ways. Night One was already one of the more interesting nights in recent years. Andrew Wiggins solidified himself as a true baller last night when he won MVP of the Rising Stars game, which was an awesome game all-around. I think the whole US versus World concept is a great move for the NBA. The contrasting styles made for great entertainment. In the celebrity game, Little League baseball superstar Mo’ne Davis showed just how good of an athlete she is, crossing up Kevin Hart (who seems to be at all places at all times…is that a good thing or a bad thing?) and showing off all of her skills. She’s said in interviews that she aspires to be a WNBA point guard. She looks to be off to a great start.
Tonight, the real fun starts. Here are three things to look forward too:
1. This year’s three point contest could be the best ever.
The NBA got it right this year. For the first time in a long time, the three-point contest will feature the eight best shooters in the league. The Splash brothers (Klay Thompson and Steph Curry) highlight a lineup of lights-out shooters. Kyle Korver, who is having one of the best shooting seasons ever, is in in the mix along with Kyrie Irving, James Harden, JJ Redick, Wes Matthews, and defending champion Marco Belinelli. Expect to see a bunch of tie breakers and a bunch of broken records. We can only hope it comes down to a final between teammates Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
2. The Dunk contest includes one of the most intriguing players the NBA has ever seen.
A lot has been said about “The Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo and for good reason. The NBA (and basketball in general) has never seen a player like Antetokounmpo. The Milwaukee Bucks standout has grown two inches since entering the league in 2013 and he shows no signs of stopping. He currently stands at 6’11” and, at only 20 years old, he could grow to over 7 feet soon. He has a huge wingspan, soft hands, and elite athleticism (hence “freak”). Oh yeah, and he’s basically a guard. Considering the rawness of his game, Antetokounmpo could soon become the most feared player in the league once his skill set becomes more refined. Though his performance in the dunk contest will be entertaining (he is a great in-game dunker so I imagine his competition dunks will be special), the real joy is watching him in games on the break.
As for the dunk contest itself, we can only hope some boundaries are pushed. Could Antetokounmpo dunk from the top of the arc? It’s possible.
3. How bad (or good) will the musical performances be?
We already had to struggle through fake reggae last night when Canadian fake reggae group Magic! took the stage for the halftime show of the Rising Stars game. As expected, it was painful and the world was a better place when the performance ended. The pregame performers tomorrow include Ne-Yo (will Juicy J show up?) and Becky G (who is Becky G?) and the halftime performer will be Ariana Grande who is actually quite talented in the art of singing and dancing. It should be pretty fun. Hopefully they’ll broadcast some of Babyface’s performance tonight because he’s also quite talented at the art of singing.
Seriously though, who is Becky G?
Much Love, y’all.