NBA All-Star Weekend Reactions

     Last night’s NBA All-Star Game saw the West defeat the East 163-158, and concluded the annual All-Star weekend.  Now that the festivities are over, and the NBA’s second half is about to begin, I thought I’d share my reflections on all the events, including my favorite, least favorite, and if I enjoyed some of the new rule changes.  Here are my official All-Star Weekend reactions.
     Celebrity All-Star Game: This was one of my favorite events of the weekend.  It’s a fun and friendly game, with a semi-competitive atmosphere, and while it’s nothing all that special, I nonetheless enjoyed watching it.  Kevin Hart really livens up the mood, and is always entertaining.  This year his mini-rivalry with Mo’ne Davis made good television, and Davis’ spin-layup was one of the highlights of the whole weekend.  The list of stars didn’t include a ton of really big-names, but it was a nice to see some WNBA players and retired NBA-ers.  Overall it was a solid game.
     Rising Stars Game & All-Star Game: These games had some very similar characteristics, which is why I lumped them together.  For starters, I liked the idea of having the top U.S. youngsters going up against the top international players, and thought it gave the game a bit of an extra level of competition as each side was additionally supporting their countries.  Both games as a whole were very close throughout, which contributed to making it fun to watch.  However, as far as the actual games go, I’m not a fan of the super fast paced, no defense style of the games.  Personally I find it much more entertaining to watch a good NBA game than to see 100 dunks.  Of course I understand that no one wants to get hurt, but I think it’s a joke when I see a 163-158 score, as it’s obvious no one really tried that hard.  I just want to know that when I watch a game, guys are going to be giving their all, so the style just doesn’t suit me personally.
     Shooting Stars Challenge: This contest saw four teams of three, each comprised of an NBA player, WNBA player, and NBA legend.  Each team had to make three shots – one to the right of the middle of the paint, a shot from the top of the key, a three from the wing, and then a half-court shot.  I was a bit disappointed that they took away a couple shots because teams used to need six shots, and this time they only needed four.  Overall though, it is really exciting because any miss in the first three shots takes away precious time needed for nailing a half-court shot, which could take three shots or 30 to make.  It’s good to watch, but at best it’s still a side event, far from the main show.
     Skills Challenge: To be blunt, I hated the skills challenge.  Instead of having players race against the clock, which made the challenge more tense as players knew how fast they needed to go, but instead they had players go against each other in an eight-man single elimination tournament.  I thought it took a lot away from each individual player.  Additionally, they took out half the course!  All players needed to do in this was to weave around a couple cardboard defenders, make a chest pass, layup, and a three.  Basically, the only places anyone could go wrong were the chest pass and three-pointer, and the competition basically came down to who made the three first.  In the old days, a player had a layup, cardboard defenders, a chest pass, a bounce pass, a three, another chest pass, another round of defenders, and a final layup, for eight total obstacles instead of four.  There were more places for people to mess up, and it was much more about overall speed.  In this year’s competition, Patrick Beverley never even made a pass on his first attempt, but hit threes on the first try to win every round.  You couldn’t do that back in the day (man I sound old).
     Three Point Contest: Don’t change a thing.  This contest was awesome.  This year we all had the pleasure of seeing perhaps the greatest lineup ever for this competition.  You had the Splash Bros, Steph and Klay, Kyle Korver whose the best shooting season ever, two former champions, J.J. Redick, James Harden, and Wes Matthews (least notable of the bunch, but performed very well).  The new addition here was allowing players to choose a rack of all money balls, which added in a new layer of strategy and made the competition even more interesting.  Plus, in the end, everyone got what they wanted – a lights-out performance from Stephen Curry, plus many other great rounds along with it.  It was my favorite part of the entire weekend.
     The Dunk Contest: I have mixed feelings about the dunk contest, as I seem to do every year.  Zach LaVine was incredible, and had one of the best dunk contest performances I’ve ever seen.  Victor Oladipo had a crazy 540 slam as well, but Mason Plumlee and Giannis Antetokounmpo failed to impress (especially the Greek Freak).  The dunk contest is difficult because the NBA wants the best dunkers in the contest, but the players with the most dunks are typically big men, and big men can’t throw down the windmills and 360s that smaller guys can.  Plumlee did very well for his size, but just won’t be able to match LaVine.  More issues are that the NBA has had issues finding big name players to participate since Dwight Howard, and that most of the dunks we believe to be possible have been showcased already.  But none of these issues can kill the dunk contest.  Sure, the last few years have been pretty dull, but LaVine made this year a good one and LeBron might participate in the future.  The dunk contest is just such a great concept that every year we’ll all watch, and hopefully the dunkers can continue to find ways to be creative.
     So those were my opinions on each event.  Overall, All-Star Weekend had its flaws, but was still a very enjoyable break in the middle of a long NBA season.

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