Highlights and Lowlights of NBA All-Star Weekend
The 2019 All-Star Weekend was a great success for the NBA. Charlotte was a buzzing hub of excitement—the greatest players in the world mixed with the fans and celebrities that revere them. Tampering was the talk of the town coming into the weekend and the NBA truly did not disappoint on that front. The Anthony Davis saga rolled on, Kyrie was chatting up KD, LeBron was chatting up…well, everyone. Rich Paul was even sitting courtside in an all-time “eh, let’s see what happens” move by the NBA. Players are talking more and caring less about who sees it. The league may very well be on the verge of a serious crisis, but let’s enjoy the ride because it’s going to be a wild one while it lasts.
But there was a lot of actual basketball to take note of over the 3-day basketball extravaganza, and in true NBA-fashion there were plenty of highlights and a few lowlights for balance. Here are my favorites:
Joe Harris’ jump shot:
I’m convinced Joe Harris wasn’t born, but instead was handcrafted by the heavens with only two objectives: growing a big, beautiful beard and shooting 3-pointers, which is to say he had all the tools necessary to win the 3-Point Shootout. The only problem with that was Steph Curry also being in that same 3-Point Shootout. But instead of doing what is the appropriate response of competing against the greatest shooter of all time in a shooting competition—curling into the fetal position—Harris decided nah, I’m just gonna win this. He finished his final round with 7 consecutive makes, including the entire money-ball rack, and won the trophy. He also won my wholehearted affection but he probably doesn’t care about that.
The Curry 3-point showdown:
The Curry brothers, Steph and Seth, were a fun and interesting subplot the 3-Point Shootout. The homecoming duo were set to both compete in it, and even upped the anti with a surprisingly high-stakes wager: loser buys the family game tickets for the remainder of their careers. But in the end it was a matchup hardly worth watching. Seth exited with a whimper after a 16 in the first round, and Steph ended up losing to Joe Harris in the final round. *Yawn*
Hamidou Diallo’s Right Elbow:
Diallo finally gave us the Vince Carter tribute dunk we all deserve. Donovan Mitchell paid tribute with his theatrics and jersey switch last year, but the actual dunk left something to be desired. But when Diallo cleared Shaq with ease and hung from the rim by his elbow, he showed why he deserved to be the 2019 Dunk Contest Champion. It was a breathtaking showcase of athleticism and a wonderfully surprising homage.
Every other dunk:
The contestants took more time setting up their dunks than actually making them, the worst culprit being this horrendous idea from John Collins (A model plane? Seriously?). The contest was altogether dull and anticlimactic. I’d rather watch my local high school basketball team do layup lines than watch Dennis Smith Jr. take 6 attempts and over 2 minutes to make a dunk, while endangering the wellbeing of Dwyane Wade. The cherry on top of that shit sundae: he still scored a 50! The event is broken, NBA. Fix it.
Bucks showing out in the ASG:
It took 4 minutes to become the Giannis show. Then it took 4 shots for Khris Middleton to make sure everyone knew there’s more than one star back in Milwaukee. And then just for good measure, Giannis decided to make amends for an awful dunk contest by slamming down one of the most exciting plays in All-Star Game history. He dropped a game-high 38 points and Middleton finished with an impressive 20. With all of this happening under the helm of Bucks’ coach Mike Budenholzer, it was a really great look for Milwaukee and some valuable national exposure that’s proven so elusive for small market teams.
Westbrook being Westbrook:
Check out these stats from Russell: 1-8 from 3 and a -19 plus/minus. You really have to admire his consistency—even in the All-Star Game he finds a way to shoot his team out of a lead. Or maybe no one ever told him it was the All-Star Game so he thought it was just a road game in Charlotte. Either way he basically single-handedly robbed Giannis of his first ASG MVP (Boo!)
The Trae Young “AND1” Mixtape:
Trae Young reminded everyone this last weekend why he was a top draft prospect last year. He was by far the most exciting player to watch in the Rising Stars Challenge, flexing his flashy ball-handling, incredible court vision, and his deep range. The NBA universe is all aboard the Luka Doncic hype train, and is thrashing Atlanta’s draft judgement along the way. But while Luka is getting all the limelight, Trae is building an impressive rookie season in the shadows—which is maybe exactly what how he wants it.