THE USB NBA All-Star Weekend Preview

This weekend is without a doubt the biggest weekend of the season for most NBA participants & fans. Unlike most sports All-Star events, which often take themselves too seriously and end up alienating fans & players, NBA All-Star Weekend is a true celebration of everything great about the Association. You’ll rarely see players taking the weekend off like you do in other sports, they all want to be part of the show. The whole weekend is filled with entertaining events, culminating in the All-Star Game on Sunday that is usually great to watch because nobody plays defense for at least the first three quarters. Then in the fourth quarter guys start trying to win and stuff gets insane.

Today I’m going to preview all of the NBA All-Star Weekend events. Well, the ones presented on television anyway. I can’t really tell you about Charles Barkley’s party or the sit-down between Russ & KD that just might take place this weekend if we’re all lucky.

Friday, February 17

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NBA All-Star Celebrity Game

The Celebrity Game isn’t something I’m a huge fan of. I’ve probably seen five minutes of it over the past few years. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at these teams.

Michael Smith’s West Team
Miles Brown (actor)
Tom Cavanagh (actor)
Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks owner)
Baron Davis (NBA legend)
Andy Grammer (recording artist)
Jiang Jinfu (actor, model)
Anthony Mackie (actor)
Romeo Miller (actor, recording artist)
Hasan Minhaj (actor, comedian)
Master P (actor, recording artist)
Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks)
Aarón Sánchez (celebrity chef)

Coaches:
Michael Smith (ESPN host)
Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
Rocsi Diaz (television personality)

I’ll be honest with you. I have no idea who most of these people are. Cuban, obviously. Rick Carlisle says he’s a good shooter, so we’ll see how that goes. I think Baron can still bring it in this environment. Master P, for what it’s worth, was a competent basketball player years ago. Parker’s good but I doubt she’ll be putting much effort into this. I do like this coaching staff though. Smith’s a smart guy, Draymond is a good motivator, and I’ve been a fan of Rocsi’s for awhile now. She fine.

rocsi

Mmmhmm.

Jemele Hill’s East Team
Brandon Armstrong (former NBA D-League player and social media star)
Win Butler (musician)
Nick Cannon (actor, recording artist)
Rachel DeMita (NBA2K TV personality)
Ansel Elgort (actor, recording artist)
Marc Lasry (Milwaukee Bucks owner)
Caleb McLaughlin (actor)
Peter Rosenberg (media personality)
Oscar Schmidt (Basketball legend)
Lindsay Whalen (WNBA player)
Jason Williams (NBA legend)
Kris Wu (recording artist)

Coaches:
Jemele Hill (ESPN host)
Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)
Fat Joe (recording artist)

I’m even more lost when it comes to identifying people on this team. I thought the Bucks were represented by a hottie at the draft lottery, so I have no clue who this owner guy is. Rosenberg seems like a nice guy but he’s not a good fit at anything WWE has had him do so far. I’m guessing this Jason Williams isn’t the one that killed a guy. I think the West takes this one in a cakewalk, but it’s not like I know how any of these people will perform on the hardwood. And I question the “celebrity” status of this game.

bbva-rising-stars-challenge-logo

BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge

U.S. Team Roster
Devin Booker (Suns)
Malcolm Brogdon (Bucks)
Marquese Chriss (Suns)
Brandon Ingram (Lakers)
Frank Kaminsky (Hornets)
Jahlil Okafor (76ers)
D’Angelo Russell (Lakers)
Jonathon Simmons (Spurs)
Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves)
Myles Turner (Pacers)

Booker has been killing it for the Suns this season. I know this because of my fantasy team. I also know that Ingram has not been killing it for the Lakers because of my fantasy team. Towns & Turner are beasts for sure. Pretty solid team here, though I must confess my ignorance when it comes to Frank Kaminsky. Has he actually been doing good things for the Hornets? Because I would not have expected that.

World Team Roster
Alex Abrines* (Thunder)
Danté Exum (Jazz)
Buddy Hield (Pelicans)
Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)
Trey Lyles (Jazz)
Willy Hernangomez** (Knicks)
Jamal Murray (Nuggets)
Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks)
Domantas Sabonis (Thunder)
Dario Saric (76ers)
* injury replacement for Joel Embiid
** injury replacement for Emmanuel Mudiay

Some injury issues for the World team leads to some questions. They do have Porzingis though. But other than Porznigis…I dunno man. Buddy Hield’s good at hitting people in the junk. I’m going to ride with Team USA because liberals need to reclaim patriotism from the suddenly-Putin friendly conservatives. And because we have the better players. I mean, c’mon.

Saturday, February 18

All-Star Saturday is one of my favorite nights of the NBA season. The Slam Dunk Contest & 3-Point Contest were staples of my youth, and the Skills Challenge makes for a nice appetizer.

TACO BELL CORP. LOGO

2017 Taco Bell Skills Challenge Participants
Devin Booker (Suns)
DeMarcus Cousins (Kings)
Anthony Davis (Pelicans)
Gordon Hayward (Jazz)
Nikola Jokic* (Nuggets)
Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks)
Isaiah Thomas (Celtics)
John Wall (Wizards)
* injury replacement for Joel Embiid

The Bigs broke the size barrier last year when Karl-Anthony Towns won. Every other year it’s been a point guard, and I see that continuing this year. I’ve got my eyes on John Wall winning this thing, he’s one of the fastest guys I’ve ever seen on a basketball court and that quickness should help him here. Watch out for Isaiah Thomas though, especially if somebody tells him it’s the fourth quarter.

3pointlogo

2017 JBL Three-Point Contest Participants
Eric Gordon (Rockets)
Kyrie Irving (Cavaliers)
Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
Wes Matthews (Mavericks)
CJ McCollum (Blazers)
Klay Thompson (Warriors)
Kemba Walker (Hornets)
Nick Young (Lakers)

As a college basketball fan living in the Commonwealth of Kentucky that grew up on Rick Pitino’s three-point shooting teams at UK & now supports Rick Pitino’s three-point shooting teams at U of L, I’ve always loved the Three-Point Contest. The money ball being the classic ABA basketball for most of the contest’s existence is an added bonus. Between you and me, I like this more than the Slam Dunk Contest. Don’t tell anybody.

Dustin tells me that CJ McCollum has been killing it from 3 all year, but it’s tough to pick against Klay Thompson. He & Steph Curry killed it last year, so here’s hoping he gets a similar challenge this year.

slamdunk

2017 Verizon Slam Dunk Participants
Aaron Gordon (Magic)
DeAndre Jordan (Clippers)
Glenn Robinson III (Pacers)
Derrick Jones Jr. (Suns)

I definitely have a love-hate relationship with the Slam Dunk Contest. You can’t deny the history of the event, going back to the ABA days when Dr. J dunked from somewhere around the free-throw line. Michael Jordan & Dominique Wilkins then made the contest legendary with their battles, especially the 1988 contest in Chicago where some home cooking may have been involved in getting Jordan that title. The dunks have gotten more creative since then, but they don’t have the same impact. Mostly because the people involved in this event aren’t among the biggest stars in the sport, like MJ & The Human Highlight Film were. Gordon & Zach LaVine put on a hell of a show last year, but sadly LaVine can’t defend his title this year due to a torn ACL. I assume Gordon goes over this year because he probably deserved it last year.

Sunday, February 19

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66th NBA All-Star Game

Eastern Conference

Giannis Antetokounpo, Bucks
Jimmy Butler, Bulls
LeBron James, Cavs
DeMar DeRozan, Raptors
Kyrie Irving, Cavs

Paul George, Pacers
Kevin Love, Cavs (will be replaced before the game)
Kyle Lowry, Raptors
Paul Milsap, Hawks
Isaiah Thomas, Celtics
Kemba Walker, Hornets
John Wall, Wizards
Coach: Brad Stevens, Celtics

Western Conference

Anthony Davis, Pelicans
Kevin Durant, Warriors
Kawhi Leonard, Spurs
Stephen Curry, Warriors
James Harden, Rockets

DeMarcus Cousins, Kings
Marc Gasol, Grizzlies
Draymond Green, Warriors
Gordon Hayward, Jazz
DeAndre Jordan, Clippers
Klay Thompson, Warriors
Russell Westbrook, Thunder
Coach: Steve Kerr, Warriors

There’s just too much talent on the West side. They have Russell Westbrook coming off the bench. Are you kidding me? That’s a slap in his face to make him come off the bench, and he’s going to use that as fuel. I’d be shocked if the West didn’t run away with this game. The only chance the East has is if LeBron decides they can’t lose, and the Cavs better hope that doesn’t happen.

All-Star Weekend is gonna be a blast, that much is for sure. Especially when it’s in New Orleans. My main goal in life is that THE USB can get some media passes for ASW the next time it’s in New Orleans. Because NBA + New Orleans sounds like a party that would be way too good to remember. And as one of the many girls that got away once told me, the best parties are the ones you don’t remember. Maybe it’s good she got away. Anywho, NBA All-Star Weekend is a wonderful time and since the Association is as good as it has ever been I expect this All-Star Weekend to be one of the best ever. The biggest stars in the same place, which happens to be one of my favorite cities. Should be…good times.

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