The NBA All-Star Weekend is an overall great event that showcases the best that the league has to offer. Each event has its charm and caters to different kinds of fans.
If you’re a true hoop head, every event will be worth not sleeping in on a weekend. For those looking to schedule their next few mornings around the All-Star Weekend, here’s a preview of what to expect.
AT&T Slam Dunk
All-Star Saturday (Sunday for us Filipinos) is the event to wake the kids up for. It has always been the most interesting part of All-Star weekend. The NBA All-Star Game has the best players, but the festivities prior to the culminating event showcase the fun side of the league – from handles, to 3s, to dunks.
For a lot of fans, these fun competitions are their gateway to NBA fandom. If you have a child in your life and want to get them into the league, these events are way easier to digest and appreciate.
The particular event to get that budding fan out of bed this year is the Dunk Contest. The top stars no longer participate, but this event also has the potential to create new stars. How cool would it be if, as a child, you witness a Filipino win the Dunk Contest? That could happen this year with Jalen Green.
The other Dunk Contest favorite is Obi Toppin, who has pulled off a lot of flashy in-game dunks, though big guys haven’t always shone in the Dunk Contest. Ditto for Juan Toscano-Anderson, who can put people on posters, but doesn't have the vertical leap of other competitors. Cole Anthony – the dark horse – will surely make things spicy.
Taco Bell Skills Challenge
The Skills Challenge, which debuted in 2003, has seemingly been tinkered with almost every year. The upcoming Skills Challenge will still have an obstacle course, but with a twist. Three teams of three players will participate in a four-round competition that tests shooting, passing, and dribbling, with the final round dedicated to half-court shots.
Anything that involves Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will team up with his brothers Thanasis and Alex, is certainly going to be fun. They will face a team of Cleveland Cavaliers players (Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley) and NBA rookies (Scottie Barnes, Cade Cunningham, and Josh Giddey).
MTN Dew 3-Point Contest
Aside from the kids, it’s really nice to sit down with someone who doesn’t know basketball and introduce them to the sport and the league through an All-Star event.
Among everything that the weekend has to offer, the 3-point Contest is by far the easiest to explain: it’s a competition of who can put the ball through the hoop from a long distance the most. There are no obstacle scores or a subjective scoring system. There’s also something visceral about seeing someone get hot and drill several shots in a row.
This year’s field doesn’t have the headline star power of past contests with Damian Lillard and Steph Curry sitting out. But it certainly doesn’t lack in audacity with Trae Young, Karl-Anthony Towns, Fred VanVleet, and Desmond Bane certain to talk some trash. Zach LaVine, CJ McCollum, Luke Kennard, and Patty Mills are all also solid contenders. As much as superstars have won this contest, there have also been players like Jason Kapono, who ruled the event twice in the late 2000s.
Clorox Rising Stars
There’s also a pretty exciting event on All-Star Friday (Saturday for us Pinoys) with the NBA tweaking the format of the Clorox Rising Stars. They split a pool of rookies, sophomores, and G League Ignite players into four teams drafted by NBA legends Isiah Thomas, James Worthy, Rick Barry, and Gary Payton.
Team Payton will face Team Barry, while Team Worthy will take on Team Thomas before the winners in both brackets compete to determine the overall champion. It will be a “Race to 75” in honor of the league’s 75th anniversary. Games 1 and 2 will be played until a team reaches 50 points; Game 3 will be played until a team reaches 25 points.
71st NBA All-Star Game
I feel for everyone who has to work during big games, especially the ones as special as the NBA All-Star Game. Sure, we won’t have James Harden facing off with Team Durant, but there are still a lot to look forward to.
The NBA All-Star Game has been revitalized since the league established the Elam Ending. The change was simple: there’s no game clock in the fourth quarter. The game ends when one team scores a certain number of points. For this upcoming edition, the Final Target Score is the leading team’s score at the the end of the third quarter plus 24 points to honor Kobe Bryant. For instance, if the leading team scored 100 points in the first three quarters, the winner will be the first team to reach or surpass 124 points.
On paper, it looks like Team LeBron has a massive advantage due to star power and experience. They also have two of the wackiest All-Stars in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Steph Curry, who always have the most fun in these games. Team Durant, however, has the power of youth in Ja Morant and LaMelo Ball – the dream All-Star duo.
We’ve gotten some classic moments from the game over the past years and this edition should also deliver. You shouldn’t skip work for the NBA All-Star Game, but it’s definitely worth watching on a second screen.
Catch the All-Star Weekend live on NBA TV Philippines, available on Smart GigaPlay and Cignal TV. The Rising Stars Tournament begins at 10:00 AM on Saturday, while the All-Star events on Sunday and the All-Star Game on Monday begin at 9:00 AM.