This year’s NBA All-Star Festivities enjoyed a jolt of energy unlike the weekend primer had experienced since the 90's.
The 3-point Contest was filled with the very best long range shooters in the league as Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors), Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors), Wesley Matthews (Portland Trail Blazers) Marco Belinelli (San Antonio Spurs), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), J.J. Reddick (Los Angeles Clippers), James Harden (Houston Rockets) and Kyle Korver (Atlanta Hawks) battled it out. It was more than fitting that the Splash Brothers of the Golden State Warriors would square off against one another in the final round. Steph would emerge victorious as he defeated Thompson by a score of 27 to 14, with Curry nailing 13 shots in a row on his way to the victory.
Surprisingly, neither Korver, the leading three point shooter in the NBA, nor Harden, the leading scorer in the NBA, would make it out of the first round of the competition.
Though many borderline NBA fans may scoff at the NBA Skills Challenge, a competition in which players display their passing, shooting, and dribbling abilities in a timed manner, this year’s competition featured PG Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks, PG Brandon Knight of the Milwaukee Bucks, PG Trey Burke of the Utah Jazz, PG Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors and PG Patrick Beverly of the Houston Rockets. The point guards all participated in a spirited round of competition of which Beverly would emerge victorious over Knight in the final round, despite falling behind in each round during the competition, only gaining the win while nailing his three point shot on the first attempt while his competition failed to do so, even though they had raced ahead.
Zach LaVine might be an NBA rookie, but people have been speaking about this freak of flight ever since he was at UCLA. Be that as it may, one would be hard pressed to believe that this 19-year-old rookie would be the one to win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in his first appearance, but that is exactly what happened. Initially, it appears as if Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic would pull it out early on as he wowed the crowd with a 360 degree, reverse dunk from the baseline that garnered a perfect score. Mason Plumlee of the Brooklyn Nets would bring the funk as would Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. But neither of them would sustain their momentum, and either missed, or under-executed, dunks that could have given them an edge. LaVine became the first Minnesota Timberwolves player to win the Slam Dunk Contest since J.R. Rider in 1994. He also pulled of the rare feat of recording two perfect scores, becoming the first player to do so since Dwight Howard in 2009.
"I'm still on cloud nine. I feel like I'm dreaming," LaVine said. "Seeing all the dunk contests and people hoisting the trophy, I just saw myself do it and lived it, so it's a dream come true. I'm glad my family is here to witness it and go through it."
Check out the dunks that not only garnered LaVine a perfect score, but have upped the ante for a once fan favorite event that has faded since its glory days.