Sayo Jolayemi & Jacob Kersh
It’s that time of the year again. The halfway point of the NBA regular season is approaching, bringing the 66th Annual All-Star weekend with it. This event is slated for February 17th through the 19th. The festivities will be headlined by the All-Star game occurring on Sunday, February 19th, starring some of the league's top talent. The Eastern Conference includes starters and defending world champs Lebron James and Kyrie Irving, along with Jimmy Butler, DeMar Derozan, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Western Conference boasts defending MVP Stephen Curry, his teammate Kevin Durant, in tandem with James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, and Anthony Davis. Reserve players (those individuals who will come off the bench) include Russell Westbrook, Klay Thompson, DeAndre Jordan, Gordon Hayward, Draymond Green, Marc Gasol and DeMarcus Cousins. The Eastern Conference has John Wall, Kemba Walker, Isaiah Thomas, Paul Millsap, Kyle Lowry, Kevin Love, and 2K17 Cover Athlete: Paul George as backups.
The event kicks off on Friday with the All-Star Celebrity Game at 7PM, followed by the Rising Stars Challenge at 9PM. Sophomore Devin Henley told us that he thinks “Joel Embiid will definitely steal the show and also win MVP of the game.” However with progressive athletes in Kristaps Porzingis on Team World, Devin Booker, Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell, and reigning ROTY (Rookie of The Year) Karl-Anthony Towns on Team USA, nothing is certain.
The following day, Saturday, the announcement for 2017’s inductees for the Basketball Hall of Fame will be revealed; new candidates are comprised of players who have not been active for at least four years (2012 retirees) such as Tracy McGrady, Ben Wallace, Mike Bibby and Wizards alumni Gilbert Arenas.
The entertainment picks up later in the night with State Farm’s All-Star Saturday Night, which incorporates the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, JBL Three-Point Contest and Verizon Slam Dunk Contest, in that order. The Skills Challenge features four ‘smalls’ (guards) John Wall, Devin Booker, and Gordon Hayward. There are also four ‘bigs’ (centers and forwards), those being DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid and Kristaps Porzingis. (All members are participants of either the All-Star game or Rising Stars challenge). Next will come the Three-Point contest featuring eight of the NBA’s most elite shooters (except for Stephen Curry who elected to sit out). This roster of players includes Klay Thompson, Kyle Lowry, Eric Gordon, Kyrie Irving, C.J. McCollum, Kemba Walker, Wesley Matthews, and Nick Young. Last and arguably the most spectacular, the Dunk Contest. Reigning two-time champion Zach Lavine is missing this event but do not fear; his rival last year Aaron Gordon will return along with DeAndre Jordan, Glenn Robinson III and for the first time an entree from the D-League; dark horse candidate Derrick Jones Jr.
The weekend will culminate on Sunday at 8PM with the All Star game. MVP frontrunners Harden and Westbrook will without a doubt look to earn the nod off All-Star MVP, whilst pass flashy guards like Wall, Curry, Thomas, and Irving will surely make highlight plays, whether they be passes or deep shots. Sophomore Jack McSally says that he expects “groundbreaking and earth shattering dunks from players such as Lebron, Durant and Davis”, which we definitely agree which. In summation, the NBA All-Star weekend promises to be a ‘slam dunk’.