AMANDA NEPPL / STAFF WRITER
This Friday marks the start of the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend, which will take place in New Orleans, Louisiana. Friday night will consist of the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at 7p.m, and at 10p.m, the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge. On Saturday, various events will be held throughout the day, but tune in at 8p.m for All-Star Saturday Night, which includes the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, JBL Three-Point Contest, and Verizon Slam Dunk, in that order. The weekend concludes with the 66th NBA All-Star Game at 8:30p.m.
NBA All-Star Celebrity Game
Michael Smith and Jemele Hill, who are co-hosts of SC6 (SportsCenter 6), “will serve as the guest coaches for the West and East teams, respectively,” says the NBA website. Smith’s West team consists of musician Andy Grammer, Los Angeles Sparks player Candace Parker, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, to name a few. Minnesota Lynx player Lindsay Whalen, actor Ansel Elgort, and Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry among others make up Hill’s East Team. Last year, Grammy Award-winning recording artist and Toronto Raptors “global ambassador” Drake coached Team Canada, which faced actor and comedian Kevin Hart’s Team USA. Team Canada owned the court – and won – which kicked off the 65th NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto, Canada off to an exciting start.
All-Star Saturday Night: Taco Bell Skills Challenge
All-Star Saturday Night never fails to entertain and showcase the skills of some of the best players in the NBA, and in the world. “The Taco Bell Skills Challenge format calls for two players to compete simultaneously on an identical course with the fastest finisher reaching the next round,” says the NBA. “In the first round, the eight players are paired to participate in four head-to-head competitions.” Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker and Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks, who were both on the 2015-16 NBA All-Rookie First Team, are competing in the Challenge this year, among others. “The four winners advance to the second round, where two more head-to-head showdowns determine the two finalists.” Last year, a rookie stole that final spot: Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Towns beat out All-Stars such as Isaiah Thomas and Anthony Davis, who are also in this year’s game.
All-Star Saturday Night: JBL Three-Point Contest
Unsure of what is better: watching JBL Three-Point Contest or watching Steph Curry shoot in the JBL Three-Point Contest. Unfortunately, Curry will not be in the Contest this year, however, he is a starter for the Western Conference Team in the All-Star Game on Sunday. “Splash Brother” Klay Thompson is playing in the Contest, alongside the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving, who won in 2013. Thompson took home the title in 2016. It is possible, folks. But considering the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead…
All-Star Saturday Night: Version Slam Dunk
The night ends with the best of the three competitions: the Verizon Slam Dunk (contest). The four participants of this years’ contest are Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, Glenn Robinson III of the Indiana Pacers, and Phoenix Suns’ Derrick Jones Jr. In case you are wondering, Minnesota’s Zach LaVine (the only reason anyone would ever watch a Timberwolves game) is, unfortunately, out for the rest of the season. “After averaging 10.1 points per game as a rookie and 14.0 last season, he was averaging 18.9 points this year prior to the injury,” writes Rob Goldberg in a Bleacher Report article. “He used this skill set to win the Slam Dunk Contest in each of his first two seasons.” LaVine will hopefully resume playing next season.
Sunday night’s All-Star Game concludes the 2017 All-Star Weekend. The Eastern Conference lineup, whose coach has yet to be announced, consists of Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls, DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors, and Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Lebron James. Steve Kerr, the head coach for the Golden State Warriors, will coach the Western Conference, whose starters are Pelicans’ Anthony Davis, James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs, and Kerr’s own Kevin Durant and Steph Curry.