Chicago 2020: All-Star Weekend Review

Alex Lopez Guzman, Staff Writer

All-Star Weekend has come to an end, and many insist some players got “robbed” this weekend, so let’s review the events.

Beforehand, some rules were changed for these competitions, the first being that each team during the All-Star Games will compete to win each of the first three quarters, all of which will start with a score of 0-0 and will be 12 minutes long. At the start of the fourth quarter, the game clock will be turned off and a final target score will be set. The final target score will be determined by taking the leading team’s total cumulative score through three quarters and adding 24 points; the 24 represents Kobe Bryant’s uniform number. Once the final target score is set, the teams will play an untimed fourth quarter and the first team to reach the final target score will win the NBA All-Star Game. Secondly, during the 3-point contest, an additional shot “mountain-dew shot” has been added, making it giving 3 points at a range of 30 feet. Finally, each team during the All-Star Game will represent themselves with the jersey numbers of #24 (Kobe), and #2 (Gianna).  

The first event of All-Star Weekend was the Ruffles NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, showcasing former MVP winners Quavo and Famous Los, as well as Chicago natives Chance the Rapper and Common. This competition welcomed coaches Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon, along with special appearances of Chicago legends, Horace Grant and Nate Robinson. Each quarter began with challenges to help each team earn an edge over their competitor, and Wilbon’s team clinched all four. Not surprisingly, Wilbon’s team won with a score of 62-47. The Celebrity Game MVP trophy was awarded to none other than Chicago Grammy Award Winner Common, with a stat line of ten points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals.

The NBA Rising-Stars game included freshmen and sophomores such as Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), Miles Bridges (Charlotte Hornets), and RJ Barrett (New York Knicks). In addition, stars like Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans) and Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies) also were invited. There were many memorable details in this game: Williamson’s rim tilting, Doncic’s half-court shot in front of Young, and the lobs and dunks. The US won the match with a score of 151-131, and Miles Bridges took home MVP honors with 20 points, five rebounds, five assists, and three steals–not to mention his incredible third quarter that turned the tide of the game. Team World led by as many as 13 points in the first half, but Bridges poured in 13 points of his own in a third quarter that Team USA won by 20 points. They ended with a 36-26 margin in the fourth quarter to complete the second-half blowout. This gave viewers worldwide truly amazing a glimpse of the future.

Next, the most exciting events of All-Star Weekend: the Mountain Dew 3-point contest and the AT&T dunk contest. The 3-point contest consisted of shooters including first time participants Davis Bertans, Devonte Graham, Zach Lavine, Duncan Robinson, and Trae Young; and former participants Damian Lillard and Buddy Hield. Defending champion Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets), and former champion Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns) also competed to bring the heat. Devonte Graham hit the first Mountain Dew Zone shot of the night in the first round, and it become evident that it was a crucial shot throughout the event. Zach Lavine had the support of the home crowd behind him, and while he started the first round off hot, he went lost his touch toward the end and did not advance. Booker and Hield both hit 27 points in the first round. It was only expected that the final round would come between the two of them. Devonte Graham, Trae Young, Duncan Robinson, and defending champion Joe Harris couldn’t find their rhythm in the first round and failed to advance. Trae Young, surprisingly, only earned 15 points, despite being a fan favorite.

Many fans’ (myself included) favorite event of this weekend, is the dunk contest. Dunkers like former champ Dwight Howard, first-time dunker Pat Connaughthon, Aaron Gordon (Orlando Magic), and Derrick Jones, Jr. (Miami Heat) were all tough competitors, but there can only be one winner. Howard and Connaughthon were expected to not make the second round, but showed impressive determination. However, many fans feel Gordon was “snubbed” over the last dunk contests, since he definitely had an opportunity. With Gordon and Derrick both putting on amazing 50 point dunks, the game advanced, and Gordon was furious, knowing he should have won before. With Derrick also performing fabulous dunks, it all came to one last round. In that round, history was made when Aaron Gordon jumped over 7 ‘5″ Tacko Fall! But the judges thought otherwise, and crowned Dwane Wade (former Miami Heat player). It was truly a show to remember, but I cannot imagine another dunker who will ever be the same as Gordon–retire well, dunk easy. 

In the NBA skills challenge, defending champion Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics) and returning champion Spencer Dinwiddie (Brooklyn Nets) took on newcomers Pascal Siakam, Bam Adebayo, Patrick Beverly, Domantas Sabonis, Khris Middleton, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Jayson Tatum definitely had my pick. The first round was very surprising to many fans. Their expectations were shattered, when all of the big men had advanced, including Bam Adebayo, Domantas Sabonis, Pascal Siakam, and Khris Middleton. Knowing that big men were dominating the challenge, fans figured that the bigger they are, the bigger their chances of winning are. But one falling after another, we were at the biggest ones yet. 6’10 Bam Adebayo, and 6’11 Domatas Sabonis were left, and it was a very close competition–both being at the same pace until the 3-point shot. In the end, Bam Adebayo made the shot and won the Taco Bell skills challenge.

Finally for the best part of the weekend, the 2020 NBA All-Star game. In quarter one, Team LeBron was winning 53-41, and in quarter 2 Team Giannis took the lead 51-30. The heated moments began in quarters 3 and 4. With Trae Young’s half-court shot in the final seconds of the second half, both teams having won one quarter each, the last half involved defense! It all came together in the end with Russel Westbrook potentially winning the third quarter, a shot blocked and scored by Rudy Gobert, and the score settled with a tie of 41-41. The endgame began with a score of 133-124. Adding 24 points to the board, the target score was 157. With Team LeBron’s trailing by nine points, and Team Giannis only needing 24 to call it a game, it was game time. Ultimately, Team LeBron was able to come back and started to exchange leads back and forth with Team Giannis. We saw challenges, reviews, and some extremely late calls made by the refs. Some including the “block” by Giannis, which some initially thought was a goal tend until further review. After on and off review of the play, LeBron James cut the target score down to only one point with an easy dunk due to a team miscommunication, but then hit Anthony Davis with a pass that earned him a foul to the line. Davis utterly missed the first free throw, but in his words “on purpose,” but he succeeded the second time, and the game was a close with a final score board of 157-155 with Team LeBron winning ($400,000) for his charity, and Giannis winning ($100,000). The honors of the first-ever Kobe All-Star MVP award were given to none other than the sniper, Kawhi Leonard, with an outstanding 8/14 from three.

The weekend’s a wrap and many would agree that it was one of the best All-Star Weekends. And as for the All-Star Game, some deem it the best they have ever seen.

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