THE TALON

NBA All Star Weekend

An Exciting Celebration at the Halfway Mark of the NBA Season

2018 All Star Game Logo

2018 All Star Game Logo

Nate Shirley, Staff Writer

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The NBA season has hit the halfway point and that means it is time to celebrate. The weekend-long party known as All Star Weekend features the heroics of high flyers in the Dunk Contest, future stars in the Rising Stars challenge, and the ultimate pickup game in the All Star Game. This years festivities will be held in the Staples Center, which is home to both the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers. The entire weekend can be viewed on TNT February 16th-18th and should provide plenty of memorable moments to celebrate the half-way point of the season.

The first night of this star filled weekend starts out with the All Star Celebrity game, which was headlined last year by Rachel A. Delmita, of 2KTV,  Jarrius Robertson, Nick Cannon, Baron Davis, and MVP Brandon Armstrong. The lineups for this years game have not been published yet, but the game is always an interesting and entertaining way to kick off the night. The main event of the first night is the Rising Stars Challenge. This game gives fans a chance to see the all stars of the future showcased on a national scale, especially for young stars on low market teams. Team USA features the likes of Lonzo Ball, Donovan Mitchell, and Dennis Smith Jr and a host of other young stars that really know how to play ball. They will be competing against Team World, which is lead by 76ers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Jamal Murray, who was given the honor of MVP in last years contest, will also compete for team world. The Rising Stars challenge will be the star of night one, and it will be interesting to see players like John Collins and Domantas Sabonis compete on national television and for NBA fans to see a glimpse of the future all stars.

Night two is arguably the most exciting of the three nights and is my personal favorite. The night begins with the Skills Challenge which gives stars a chance to showcase their versatility as ball players and a chance to compete as individuals, as opposed to competing on a team. 7’3″ Forward Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks took home the trophy last year. This years participants have not yet been named, but Porzingis will most likely have a chance to defend his title. If he is given the opportunity he would be the heavy favorite in terms of the big men category, while point guards such as Kyrie Irving will still be favored to take home the trophy. The next event of the night will be the three point contest. This contest is usually intense and has featured the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and CJ McCollum in the past. The lineup for this event has yet to be published, but it is likely that at least one of the three mentioned earlier will agree to participate. Buddy Heild of the Sacramento Kings should receive an invitation and if he is a participant, look for him to be a dark horse candidate to win this competition. The highlight of the night will undoubtedly be the dunk contest. This years contest features two players who have past shown past greatness in previous contests. These two players are the Indiana Pacers Victor Oladipo and the Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon. Gordon, who was featured in the past two contests, will look to finally win after being robbed in the 2016 Dunk Contest in arguably the best contest of all time. The other two participants in this years contest are high-flying rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and Lakers big man Larry Nance Jr. This years dunk contest has no apparent weaknesses and hopes to be an electrifying end to an exciting night.

The final night will feature the 67th NBA All Star Game. Adam Silver made the decision to take away the East and West format and give the top two vote earners a chance to draft their teams out of the pool of all stars. The honor of team captains was given to Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and Lebron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Silver also gave the players a $100,000 incentive to win the game, which will hopefully make the game more competitive. The draft has been completed on a private conference call between Commissioner Silver and the two captains and teams have been set. The rosters are as follows and the starters have been highlighted in red. Team Lebron- Lemarcus Aldridge, Bradley Beal, Demarcus Cousins (Injured and replaced by Paul George), Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love (Injured and replaced by Goran Dragic), Victor Oladipo, Kristaps Porzingis, John Wall (Injured and replaced by Andre Drummond) and Russell Westbrook. Team Curry- Giannis Antetekounmpo, Jimmy Butler, Demar DeRozan, Joel Embiid, Draymond Green, James Harden, Al Horford, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Klay Thompson, and Karl Anthony-Towns. Objectively looking at these rosters, I believe that Team Lebron has the edge, even with the unfortunate injuries to DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Love, and John Wall. The only way to truly know who will win will be to tune in on TNT at 8:00 PM on February 17th as Team Curry and Team Lebron will battle for the win.

This years All Star Weekend is shaping up to be an exciting one. The dunk contest slate is insane and should provide plenty of excitement and the elite young talent on the Rising Stars challenge should be an interesting matchup. The new All Star Game format also gives the game intrigue to see how the changes work, and hopefully will make the game more competitive. These elements will make for an exciting weekend for all NBA fans and give even casual fans a reason to tune in.

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