Shooting Stars Challenge is the first event of the evening for a reason. It is the worst event of the All-Star Saturday night. Now, that being said, there were some fun moments from the event. Team Durant featuring said Kevin Durant, Karl Malone, and Skylar Diggins represented the west in the championship round. There, they faced defending champs Team Bosh featuring said Chris Bosh, Dominique Wilkins, and Swin Cash. The Slim Reaper hit the half court shot the first time but not the second for his squad but it proved to be not enough as Chris Bosh hit his first attempt at the half court shot both times to capture the title again. All Chris Bosh does is win because he is about that life.
Next was the Skills Challenge. It's been altered, and has the players only making one pass. You know, because passing a bounce pass is overrated. Giannis Antetokounmpo struggled with the one pass he has to make, which I assume is due to the fact there is no one on the Bucks worthy of him passing to. Reggie Jackson had mentioned that he has a few "tricks" ready for the end of the run, yet he went first for the Jackson/Dragic team. When I asked him what happened, he said he was saving his legs and the "tricks" for the finals...whoops. The team of Damien Lillard and Trey Burke squeaked out a narrow victory, giving Lillard a win in this event for two years in a row.
The new twist to the Three Point shoot out made for good discussion this weekend. Do you put the Money Ball rack where you shoot best or do you where you shoot the worst so you can make better your points where you struggle the most? The West lead off the Three Point shoot out with Kevin Love in the lead spot followed by Damien Lillard, Marco Belinelli, then Steph Curry to close it out. When Steph Curry shoots it shocks me when he misses.
Joe Johnson lead things off for the East and whoof….did that go poorly for Johnson. Aaron Afflalo had a strong showing and helped the East from being completely embarrassed in this competition. Bradley Beal stole the show for the East, dropping 22 points to cement his spot in the finals vs. Marco Belinelli. That is when things went to 11. Bradley Beal going 5-5 on the final rack forced a tiebreaker with Belinelli. Not one to be upstaged, Belinelli dropped 24 in the tiebreaker round to claim the title.
The Slam Dunk contest rolled out their new and improved rules for the competition, and its reception was mixed. The East won the opening "free style" round, allowing them to pick the order for the rest of the contest and which dunker faced whom. In the first head to head match up of the second round, Damien Lillard was bested by defending champion Terrence Ross. Paul George was able to defeat the very "meh" dunk by Harrison Barnes to give the East the 2-0 lead. In the third round, Rookie Ben McLemore went all Shakespeare in the park when he came out in a robe with Shaq and some weird guy proclaiming today Shaq-Lemore day. McLemore had Shaq sitting in a giant throne and proceeded to jump over him. After the dunk, McLemore knelt to the ground and Shaq placed a crown up his head. Let that sink in for a second. 4 time NBA champion and 3 time Finals MVP Shaq placed a crown on rookie Ben McLemore's head. I will give you a minute to process that. McLemore had the most impressive dunks in the "free-style" round and was just as impressive with his solo dunk. But he was completely out done by John Wall.
Wall jumped over the Wizards mascot, grabbed the ball, and pumped the ball for a reverse finish. It was one of the most impressive dunks I have seen. The athletic ability and coordination was pretty incredible. He ended up winning the entire competition, which felt like it kind of just ended. The new format was really awkward and weird. The new tweaks to the three-point shoot out are awesome. The one for the dunk contest needs a lot of work.