By ELENA DE ALFREDO
The NBA All-Star weekend will be held in New Orleans, La. on Feb. 17-19 at the Smoothie King Center—this is the third time that New Orleans will host All-Star Weekend. The showcase, which brings the best players in the world together, will be capturing the attention of all NBA fanatics.
There will be a series on display of different events ranging from the Rising Stars Challenge to the All-star Celebrity Game, as well as the individual competitions that can captivate the viewers, making memorable moments as we have seen throughout the past year, like the dunk or the three point contest.
Here is an in depth-look at the different NBA All-Star events:
The NBA All-Star weekend will open up with the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at 7 p.m., televised by ESPN. Famous stars from television, sports, movies and the music world will be playing at this game. The guest coaches of the West and East teams will be Michael Smith and Jemelee Hill, co-hosts of Sports Center’s 6 p.m. show, respectively.
Among the public figures, some names that stand out are the two-time MVP and No. 1 pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft, power forward/center Candace Parker, for the West team, as well as the basketball legend and Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer small forward Oscar Schmidt for the East team.
The Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Compass Rising Stars Challenge, kicks off at 9 p.m. and will be televised by TNT. It will be in charge of maintaining the interest of the annual basketball event, by showcasing the young talent. This game will put a list of 20 first and second year players, 10 from the U.S. against the other 10 from all around the world, selected by the league’s assistant coaches.
For the U.S. team, Karl-Anthony Towns, the 21-year-old center for the Minnesota Timberwolves and last year’s unanimous Kia NBA Rookie of the Year, along with 20-year-old guard Devin Booker for the Phoenix Suns are the stand out names to guide their team.
In the World’s team, the standout name is the 22-year-old center Joel Embiid for the Philadelphia 76ers, who earned both Kia NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Season. Also, the 21-year-old power forward Kristaps Porzingis, who plays for the New York Knicks, is another name to highlight among others.
After a Friday full of glimpses of greatness, the individual events will capture the world’s attention starting at 8 p.m. on TNT. The night will show three different events: The Taco Bell Skills Challenge, James Bullough Lansing (JBL) Three-Point Contest, and the Verizon Slam Dunk.
The Taco Bell Skills Challenge will be the opening event for the individual showcase for the NBA stars. This competition will have a total of eight participants, bringing two players to compete at the same time on an equal path, where the faster to finish passes on to the next round. The second round will have the four winners. Two more one-on-one competitions define the two finalists.
The JBL Three-Point Contest is set to be the second event which also features a total of eight players. This is a timed competition. The contestants have five shooting racks set all around the three-point line. Four of those racks contain four orange balls each worth one point and one colored ball, called the “money ball,” worth two points. The fifth rack contains all “money balls” and each participant can place this special rack in any of the five spots they choose. The players would have one minute to shoot as many times they can from the 25 attempts they get. Only the three with the highest score will go onto the championship round.
All eyes should focus on the defending champion shooting guard Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors. Thompson will compete against players like Cavalier’s point guard Kyrie Irving, who won the competition in 2013.
The 2017 Verizon Slam Dunk Contest is the closing event for an exciting Saturday night.
There are five judges who score every dunk on a scale from six to 10. This two-round and timeless competition have four players who each have a maximum of three attempts to convert two dunks in the first and final round.
The players choose their dunks and all four get a total of two dunks in the first round. The two competitors with the highest combined score on their two dunks will face each other in the final round. The champion will be the player with the highest score combined for their two dunks in this last round.
Last year, one of the most breathtaking dunk contests of all time took place in Toronto. Minnesota’s shooting guard Zach LaVine, back-to-back and current champion, and Orlando’s forward Aaron Gordon, starred one of the most memorable showdowns. Both went on a flight battle with outstanding dunks considered as one of the best dunks contests in NBA All-Star history.
The closing ceremony for this NBA basketball weekend is served by the 66th NBA All-Star Game. Grammy Award-winning hip-hop group, The Roots, will perform prior to the All-Star game coverage offered by TNT at 8 p.m. The actual NBA All-Star game will tip off at 8:30 p.m.
All-Star Starters: For the first time in the NBA All-Star history, NBA players and basketball media participated in the selection of the 10 starters, along with the fan base. Fans’ votes accounted for 50 percent of the vote while NBA players and media accounted for 25 percent each. In case there were any players tied in score, fans’ votes counted as the tiebreaker to select the starter.
All-Star Coaches: The coaches to command each conference team at the NBA All-Star game, are the ones with the most wins in their own conference. Following the “Riley Rule,” coaches are now allowed to have back-to-back appearances. This rule was created after Lakers’ head coach Pat Riley team’s success, which made him earn the coaching position in the Western Conference team eight times in nine seasons (1982-1990).
Eastern Conference players:
LeBron James, Cavaliers’ forward: all-time NBA All-Star history leading scorer with 291 points, this would be his 13th All-Star game in a row as a starter in 14 seasons
Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers’ point guard: 2014 All-Star MVP and current NBA champion. Irving is averaging 24.4 ppg and 5.9 apg in his 2016-17 season. This would be his fourth All-Star selection in six seasons.
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors’ shooting guard: Toronto’s all-time leading scorer, all-time minutes leader, and all-time minutes played, will make his third All-Star game overall and his second in a row
Jimmy Butler, Bulls’ shooting guard: called to be in three total All-Star games but last year was selected as a reserve because of a knee injury and was replaced by Spur’s center, Pau Gasol. This is the third straight time selected and the first-time as an All-Starter
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks’ small forward: first-time All-Starter and first Milwaukee player selected since 2003, when Michael Red was selected
Eastern Conference Reserves: Paul George, Pacers’ small forward; Kevin Love, Cavaliers’ power forward; Kyle Lowry, Raptors’ point guard; Paul Millsap, Hawks’ point guard; Isaiah Thomas, Celtics’ point guard; Kemba Walker, Hornets’ point guard; John Wall, Wizards’ point guard.
Eastern Conference Coach: For his first time, Boston Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens.
The Celtics are currently no. 2 team in the Eastern Conference with a 23-9 record.
The no. 1 team is the Cavalier’s with a 24-6 record, but because of the “Riley Rule”, Head Coach Tyronn Lue is not allowed to command the East team as he already did last year.
Stephen Curry, Warriors’ point guard: Current two-time Kia NBA MVP holder; This would be the fourth time in a row selected for the All-Star game as a starter (four times overall).
Kevin Durant, Warriors’ small forward: Holds the all-time highest average in point per game in the NBA All-Star history with 25.6 ppg. He is selected to the All-Star since the 2009-2010 season, to make eight All-Star games total
Anthony Davis, Pelicans’ power forward: All-time field goal percentage leader in NBA All-Star history with 89.5 percentage. He is named All-Star for the fourth time (since 2014)
Kawhi Leonard, Spurs’ small forward : Two-time KIA NBA Defensive Player of the Year title holder; Leonard made his first All-Star selection last year and now makes a total of two both as an All-Starter.
James Harden, Rockets’ point guard: for the Rocket’s all-time 3-point field goal made and attempted leader, this is his fifth time selected to the All-Star game.
Western Conference Reserves: DeMarcus Cousins, Kings’ center; Marc Gasol, Grizzlies’ center; Draymond Green, Warriors’ power forward; Gordon Hayward, Jazz’s small forward; DeAndre Jordan, Clippers’ center; Klay Thompson, Warriors’ shooting guard; Russell Westbrook, Thunder’s point guard.
Western Conference Coach: For his second time, Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr. The Warriors are currently no. 1 team in the Western Conference with a 29-6 record.