NBA All-Star Winner and Loser: LeBron James stays excellent as captain; The judges of the Slam Dunk Contest fail once more
The 2021 NBA All-Star experience was as typical as could reasonably be expected, but like any other sporting event that has taken place over the past year, things just felt a little different.
Instead of high levels of excitement, several players voiced their concerns about the Atlanta collecting. In contrast to a few days, the skill competitions and the all-star game took place within a few hours. There were incredible performances in terms of skill and athleticism, but the main reactions were fake noise in the crowd. The real “ooohs” and “aaahs” were sorely missed.
It wasn’t all bad, however. TNT’s all-star broadcast provided some entertaining moments, and the NBA allocated millions of dollars to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and COVID-19 relief. Much like the regular season itself, you could find short, wonderful stretches of normalcy – even if the weirdness of reality inevitably came back.
Before the NBA teams play again, let’s break down the biggest winners and losers in Sunday’s All-Star Celebration.
MORE: Best highlights from the 2021 All-Star Game
NBA All-Star Winner
Four all-star captain appearances, four all-star game wins. James built the Team LeBron roster so well that his team crushed Team Durant, despite only scoring four points in less than 13 minutes.
“I hope to get away from my all-star captain so I can retire with a perfect 4-0 record,” said James during his post-game press conference. “I’ll keep this forever. But we’ll just see what happens. I always try to pick the right team and I’ve been fortunate to pick the right team for four years. Boys go out and play and play win. I was on the winning side of all four. “
James gave shoutouts to teammates on Twitter after the win, including all-star game MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who told James he had a future as general manager. Hard to argue with the results.
Speaking of “The Greek Freak”, how about this statistic? Antetokounmpo finished the 16-of-16 shooting with 35 points and set the all-star game record for most brands with no mistakes.
Beyond the numbers, it looked like Antetokounmpo had the time of his life.
“You know, once you have fun and don’t worry about the outcome of the game, everything takes care of itself,” said Antetokounmpo. “I think fear and fun can’t go together. It’s either one or the other. This year I’ve decided it’s fun. Every game I step on the ground is fun. Foreplay, fun. With mine Teammates, fun. I want to have fun and energy in my team. “
Be like Giannis. Always choose fun over fear.
Given the jazz record and Conley’s performance in the first half of the season, it felt like this was his best (and perhaps last) shot to finally earn that elusive all-star nod. He didn’t make the cut at first, but Devin Booker’s injury opened the door for the 33-year-old.
Now we only introduce him as “NBA ALL-STAR MIKE CONLEY”. Come on. How can you not be happy for this guy?
3-point long-range shooting
Stephen Curry, who won the 3-point contest earlier that night, co-hosted an incredible all-star game shoot with Damian Lillard.
Cue the footage.
Curry and Lillard each walked 8 out of 16 from afar, with Lillard emptying the 3-pointer that ended the exhibition game.
“I think with me and Steph as two guys shooting a lot of threes, we’re shooting deep threes, we’re playing an exciting game,” said Lillard. “A couple of shots can change the game like in the second quarter of today’s game. It was close and in two and a half minutes it was three, three, three, three, three and it was 20 points.” win in a quarter.
“It was fun. It was exciting walking around with a guy like that, and that makes All-Star Weekend an All-Star Weekend.”
BTW @Dame_Lillard & @ StephenCurry30 is just not fair !!! I literally kept telling them to keep pulling back to shoot and what did they do? Exactly 🤦🏾♂️
– LeBron James (@KingJames) March 8, 2021
Nikola Jokic’s stupidity
So we have Jokic dancing.
We also talked to Jokic about not getting an alley-oop pass from the backboard.
Jokic about Giannis who didn’t throw him down the alley in the second quarter: “This dunk would be remembered if he gave me the ball.”
– Harrison Wind (@HarrisonWind) March 8, 2021
And of course, Jokic took Giannis’ trophy and pretended he was the real MVP.
“The Joker” indeed. Splendid.
Robert Covington’s HBCU pride
Covington, a graduate of Tennessee State University, is the only current HBCU alum in the NBA. So of course this aspect of the All-Star events meant a lot to him. He was seen rocking a Tennessee State jersey for the Skills Challenge.
More importantly, Covington has announced that it will be awarding US $ 25,000 in scholarships to Michael Thompson and Micahlea Njie, both student athletes in the state of Tennessee.
“I’ve been there before and have never had someone like this really make that change and have that opportunity,” Covington said. “I use my platform. I love Tennessee State.”
Well done RoCo.
NBA all-star loser
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons
Embiid and Simmons were not available for the All-Star game as per the NBA’s health and safety guidelines. Both players reportedly visited a barber shop who tested positive for COVID-19 and forced them to remain isolated in their hotel rooms before returning to Philadelphia.
As of Sunday evening, it was unclear whether Embiid and Simmons would miss several games after the All-Star break.
“They feel great. Both of them obviously wanted to play,” said Doc Rivers, coach of the 76ers and the Durant team. “We’re disappointed. Both of them would be their biggest worry if they could play the first two games when we come back. So we don’t know the answer to that yet. This is going to be really important to us. It.” It would be difficult to start the second half of the year and not have one. “
How tough was Doncic’s performance in the skills competition? He was beaten so badly by Domantas Sabonis that Doncic’s own Mavericks teammate Jalen Brunson publicly called him out.
I didn’t warm up 😂😂😂😂 the pressure caught me 🙁
– Luka Doncic (@ edera7doncic), March 8, 2021
If you’re an All-NBA player and you can’t escape the first round, the tweets will fire. These are the rules.
Slam Dunk Contest Judges
The point system of the Slam Dunk Contest is a mess.
Last year the event ended in controversy when Aaron Gordon received a 47 for diving over Celtic’s Tacko case. This time Cassius Stanley got a 44 for his opener, a jam between the legs that seemed superior to the first attempts of the other participants.
“I think my dunk was damn good and the judges thought it was the lowest dunk in the round,” said Stanley. “That’s what it is. It’s an opinion-based thing. … Pretty much everyone around me thought I was 50.”
Do you want to set a high bar for 50? OK sure. It’s good. But that didn’t happen here.
Magic Johnson won’t stand for that!
TBH that wasn’t the most exciting slam dunk competition I’ve ever seen. 🤷🏾♂️
– Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) March 8, 2021
The cloud hangs over everything
At his All-Star Press Conference on Saturday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver began by explaining why the league was pushing its All-Star plans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have tried to strike the right balance between the health and safety of our players, the community involved in the production of NBA basketball and of course our fans and the economic interests of our community,” said Silver. “Add these questions of social justice. We’ve had all of this in mind for almost a year when we closed the NBA. … We feel like we’ve struck the right balance here and are looking after everyone’s interests involved.”
Silver does a difficult job. The financial impact of not hosting an all-star weekend (or night in this case) would have been significant. The NBA saw an opportunity to use this phase to promote important causes for their leaders, coaches and players. Maybe LeBron was bored, but for a first-time all-star like Conley, the experience was special.
Even so, it was difficult not to watch the program without periodically wondering if there was anything wrong with it. The Embiid-Simmons situation didn’t turn into a superspreader event, but it could have been. The players joined in, but many of them weren’t exactly thrilled.
The dark cloud didn’t ruin all the fun, but lowered the enjoyment factor by a few levels. Let’s hope the All-Star Celebrations see more sunlight next year.