by Travis Politakis
The 2020 National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star weekend took place from Friday-Sunday, Feb. 14-16, all commencing with the 69th annual All-Star Game on Sunday night. All-Star weekend began on Friday night with the NBA Rising Stars Game. The Rising Stars game features the best first and second year players from across the league, divided into two teams; Team World and Team USA. Team USA took home the win, defeating team World 151-131 as second year forward from the Charlotte Hornets Miles Bridges brought home MVP with 20 points and five rebounds.
All-Star Saturday night is one of the biggest nights for NBA fans as they get to see their favorite superstars compete in the skills challenge, three point contest, and dunk contest. Miami Heat center, Bam Adebayo won the skills challenge, defeating Indiana Pacers All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis in the final round. The three point contest had fans on their feet as Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Heild defeated Phoenix Suns All-Star Devin Booker on the final shot, giving him a 27-26 thrilling win over Booker.
All-Star Saturday night commences with the main event, the AT&T slam dunk contest. The dunk contest was both entertaining and controversial. Miami Heat forward, Derrick Jones Jr. took home the win just barely over Orlando Magic forward, Aaron Gordon. Many thought the judges robbed Gordon on his final dunk as he jumped over 7’6 center for the Boston Celtics Tacko Fall.
“It’s a wrap. I feel like I should have two trophies,” said Gordon in a post game interview. “My next goal will be to win the three point contest.”
Many people are blaming retired Miami Heat legend and dunk contest judge, Dwayne Wade for being biased and giving out a nine, so his former teammate Derrick Jones Jr. could take home the win. Despite the controversy, the dunk contest was one of the best in the past few years and had people talking.
Sunday night was the culmination of All-Star weekend, as the 69th All-Star game took place at the United Center in Chicago, IL. The NBA implemented a new format in 2020 for the All-Star game, which consisted of resetting the score after each quarter and then setting a target score for the fourth quarter. The first team to reach the target score would be the winner.
Los Angeles Lakers superstar forward, LeBron James and 2019 NBA MVP Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo were selected as team captains, as they drafted their teams. The NBA also paid tribute to the passing of legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant, by naming the 2020 NBA All-Star MVP Award the Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP Award, holding a moment of silence for them before the game, and Team Giannis wearing number 24 for Kobe and Team LeBron wearing number two for Gianna. After each quarter, the team who had the lead would donate $100,000 to the charity of their choice, and the winning team at the end of the game would donate $300,000 to their chosen charity.
The All-Star game was an action packed and competitive, with the new format making every quarter a must-see. Atlanta Hawks point guard, Trae Young had one of the memorable highlights of the night as he sank a half court shot at the buzzer at the end of the second quarter. The United Center erupted as the half came to a close.
The second half was one of the most competitive in All-Star game history, as it came down to the final two possessions. Los Angeles Lakers center, Anthony Davis made the game winning free throw for Team LeBron, securing the 157-155 win.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard took home the NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award, scoring 30 points and tying a record with eight three pointers made.
After the game, LeBron James reflected on the tributes to Kobe Bryant throughout the weekend. “You could definitely feel Kobe’s presence here tonight,” said James in a post-game press conference. “He was definitely here.”
Travis Politakis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org