2017 NBA All-Star Weekend Begins in New Orleans

The start of the 2017 National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Weekend proved to be an electrifying display of the league’s brightest stars and its best young talent.

The star-studded weekend of basketball exhibitions kicked-off on Friday, Feb. 17 with the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. The annual showcase features a competitive contest between basketball teams comprised of stars from across the sports and entertainment spectrum.  This year’s matchup included former NBA stars Baron Davis and Jason Williams, recording artist Andy Grammer, and Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank personality Mark Cuban. The East team won the contest by a score of 88-59.

Following the celebrity game, many of the NBA’s most skillful young players took part in one of the most high-profile NBA Rising Stars Challenges in years.  The exhibition game, which faces two teams of the league’s best young players against each other, is known for being a showcase for the best up-and-coming basketball players in the world.  The 2017 competition did not disappoint, with Team World defeating Team USA by a score of 150-141 in a high-powered offensive contest. Canadian-born Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray took home MVP honors following a game-high 36 points and a tremendous 9-of-14 shooting performance from three-point range. Team USA was led by reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns. The 7’0″ rising star from the Minnesota Timberwolves recorded 24 points and 11 rebounds to register Team USA’s only double-double.

Night two of the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend took place on Saturday, Feb. 18, and continued the excitement and stellar on-court performance of night one. The competition began with the NBA Skills Challenge, a contest during which players compete head-to-head in races to complete a skills course that tests the dribbling, shooting, and passing skills of the participants. In the final of the 2017 challenge, 7’3″, 21 year-old Latvian sensation Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks defeated Utah Jazz star Gordon Hayward.  Porzingis’ victory follows Towns’ in the 2016 event, which in theory favors smaller and quicker guards.

In the second event of the night, Houston Rockets shooting guard Eric Gordon won the 2017 NBA Three-Point Contest. This year’s competition featured eight of the league’s most prolific long-range shooters, including reigning contest champion Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, and 2013 winner Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Gordon managed to put on an incredible shooting display, and faced off with Irving in an overtime round for the victory. With astounding precision, Gordon outscored his opponent in the final round to take the three-point title.

The final event of the night was the fan-favorite NBA Slam Dunk Contest, during which four of the NBA’s most athletic and exciting dunkers compete before a  panel of basketball legends serving as judges. The 2017 competition included favorite Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, Glenn Robinson III of the Indiana Pacers, and Derrick Jones Jr. of the Phoenix Suns. Robinson eventually took home the dunk title, defeating Jones in the finals. For his contest-winning slam, Robinson grabbed the ball from teammate Paul George and jumped over George, the Pacers’ mascot, and a Pacers cheerleader before throwing down a monstrous two-handed reverse dunk. The slam earned him a perfect score of 50 and the victory in the competition.

After a historic first half of the 2016-2017 NBA season, the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend began with an entertaining showcase of the best that professional basketball has to offer.

Featured image courtesy of Jumpy News via Flickr. 

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