We tied a bow around the 2021 All-Star festivities with some wonderful stories about Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, and Dame Lillard. But beyond the superstars, there were some on-ball and off-ball moments that made the day even more memorable and deserve their own recognition.
Domantas Sabonis’ perfectly styled hair
You know how they say that when a player is dominating that he’s “hardly breaking a sweat?” We may have to change it to “his hair stayed in place” because of what the Indiana Pacers’ Domantas Sabonis did at the 2021 Taco Bell Skills Challenge.
The fact is that he dominated the competition by first taking out Julius Randle in the first round then Luka Doncic in the next round, setting up a big versus big battle against Orlando Magic’s Nikola Vucevic. But even though he had some problems hitting the long ball to end the competition, Sabonis still got it done. After finishing as runner-up a year ago, Sabonis made sure that the trophy would return to Indianapolis.
With his styled hair perfectly intact, of course.
Mike Conley FINALLY an All-Star
What a day it was for the Utah Jazz veteran point guard. A late addition because of the injury to Devin Booker, Conley made sure that he would soak in the moment and make as many memories as possible.
From his memorable shootout with Steph Curry at the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest all the way to his debut as an All-Star, this was definitely a moment for Conley, who was all smiles the entire day. For so many years, he stood atop everyone’s list of the greatest players to never make an All-Star Game. All those years he fought valiantly with the “Grit and Grind” Memphis Grizzlies, he was never able to have his moment. Well, it finally happened in Atlanta. And it was definitely worth the wait.
Lob City point guards
Who says that only bigs can rule the sky?
It’s become an annual tradition for two point gods in the NBA—Steph Curry and Chris Paul—to remind everyone that they can dunk the basketball. At least once per year.
In this year’s All-Star game, they took it to another level by throwing lobs for each other in back-to-back possessions!
“We were kind of discussing athleticism, if you will, and how we both like to jump, and you could tell that we both didn't know what the hell we were talking about because we were talking about getting oops,” Curry said of his plans with Paul. “We could only do it from one side, so we were trying to find a way to get each other an opportunity to throw one and catch one.”
In a game that set the record for most threes in an All-Star game, it was fitting that some of the most memorable moments came at the rim, courtesy of two of the greatest floor generals. “It was a pretty cool moment to show off whatever athleticism and hops we still have in our old legs,” said Curry.
Can’t wait to see what they come up with next year!
Harden trolling the new guys
In one of the funniest moments of the game, two first-time All-Stars Zach Lavine and Zion Williamson, who were mic’d up, took the opportunity from the bench to chat each other up and get some nice soundbites.
The only problem was that they didn’t know that the other was mic’d up as well!
That led to a hilarious exchange wherein they asked each other almost identical questions, and also gave each other identical answers. And what took that moment over the top was an incredulous James Harden watching the entire exchange and asking them “are y’all interviewing each other?”
More mics on more players please. The more mics, the better.
The schedule this entire season has been grueling for each player, coach and official in the NBA. Their lives for the past few days have revolved around catching flights to cities, resting in hotels, going to practice then games, then getting on the next flight out as soon as possible. Rinse and repeat. And while all of that is happening, they’re trying to win basketball games and keep their teams in the playoff race.
With all of these moments happening, we forget sometimes that it’s not merely basketball that defines these players. We got a glimpse of that during the All-Star Game with several players spending moments with their children on and off the court. From Giannis acting silly while raising his MVP trophy to making his little boy laugh, Kyrie Irving running after Deuce Tatum in the practice line or Chris Paul having a teaching moment with little Chris on the sidelines, those moments served as a reminder who our favorite players compete for.