From late August till the Super Bowl in February, the American sports scene is dominated by football. Other sports, such as baseball, college and NBA basketball, golf, and hockey, take a backseat to America’s new pastime and many casual sports fans show little interest to anything else until the season ends.
This is especially true for the NBA. Although the season starts in late October, most viewers will not sit down to watch games, besides Christmas day, until after the Super Bowl. Many sports fans view this as the real start to the NBA season.
As the sports world begins to shift their focus towards the league, the NBA holds an extravagant weekend full of flash, celebrities, and superstars known as NBA All-Star weekend. This weekend draws the undivided attention of sports fans from around the world, and showcases the biggest and brightest stars from Rookies to Veterans.
The All-Star weekend begins on Friday with the Rising Stars Challenge, as the best Rookies and Sophomores face off between Team USA and the World Team. This game is highlighted by Andrew Wiggins, Karl Anthony-Towns, Kristaps Porzingis, D’Angelo Russell, and Jahlil Okafor, just to name a few.
Perhaps the best night of the weekend is Saturday night, as players compete in the 3-Point Contest, Slam Dunk Contest, and the Skills Challenge. Saturday is a treat for basketball fans as some of the best players in the league, such as Steph Curry, Demarcus Cousins, James Harden, and Klay Thompson, put on a show for the fans, and showcase their skills in less pressurized and fun-filled competitions.
Not only do fans enjoy these contests, but players and superstars from around the league come out with their families and celebrities to take in the exciting events as well. Few other times in the year do you get to see LeBron and Kevin Durant unabashedly cheer on and share in amazement of what other players in the league can do.
Although many prefer the festivities that occur on Saturday night, Sunday night is the undisputed king of the weekend. The All-Star Game pits the best of the best against one another, and this year will be the swan-song of Kobe Bryant. Fans vote in the starters for both the Eastern and Western Conferences and the head coaches select the reserves.
This year Kyle Lowry, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and LeBron James were chosen to represent the East and Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, and Kevin Durant were chosen to represent the West as the starters.
The game defines the term exhibition and is full of highlight reel dunks, 3-pointers, fancy assists, and terrible defense. For the first three quarters of the game, players are allowed to score at will, since players want to avoid defense, effort, and the wrong end of a highlight. However, when the huddles break at the beginning of the 4th quarter, the competitive natures of the stars turn on and fans are treated to quite a show. Look for Kobe to be prominently featured at the end of the game, as players and fans alike will want to see him sent off in style and play the hero.
I think that the NBA gets the All-Star weekend right with the perfect mix of competition, pageantry, and fun for all those that are involved. The NBA has wisely never determined homecourt advantage based off of the winner of the game unlike the MLB, yet still puts on a contest that every single player in the league deeply cares about being apart of. Make sure to tune in.