NBA All-Star Saturday is always a very unique and exciting event to watch, and it is a given that there will be someone who puts on a spectacular show. Whether it is in the dunk contest or three-point shootout, someone or something will get the New Orleans crowd roaring. All-Star Saturday will feature four main events this year, much like years in the past. Here are the events and some of the more intriguing participants.
Shooting Stars Competition
The Shooting Stars competition features a current NBA player, a former NBA great and a WNBA player, as they participate in a series of shooting drills to battle for the fastest time. The event was introduced to the All-Star game in 2004, when it was won by the trio of Derek Fisher, Lisa Leslie, and Magic Johnson.
The defending champions Chris Bosh, Dominique Wilkins and Swin Cash, will be looking to become the first team to win back-to-back Shooting Stars competitions. Other interesting groups include the two father son pairings of Steph and Dell Curry, as well as Penny Hardaway Jr. and Penny Hardaway. Steph and Dell Curry will be shooting alongside Becky Hammon, while The Hardaway’s will be playing with Elena Donna.
The Skills Competition this year will have a bit of a twist as it will feature two teams of two for both the Eastern and Western Conference. Each conference team will battle against one another, with the winners of each respective conference facing off in the finals. Teams will participate in a relay that will test ball handling, passing, and shooting skills. The team with the fastest time will move on.
The first Eastern Conference team consists of rookie sensations Victor Oladipo, and Michael Carter-Williams. While the other has two unlikely participants paired together in Demar DeRozan, and the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo. The West will feature Goran Dragic and Reggie Jackson, as well as, rookie Trey Burke and defending Skills Competition champion, Damian Lillard.
Three Point Contest
The three-point contest was introduced to the NBA All-Star game in 1985. Larry Bird won the first three contests in NBA history. Participants start shooting from the corner of the three-point line and work their way around the arc. Each station has a rack with five basketballs. This year they will be able to choose one station to have five money balls. Money balls are worth two points instead of one.
This years NBA All-Star Saturday three-point contest features an array of shooters who will need to be watched. One of the more exciting participants is Stephen Curry, who has been shooting the lights out from downtown this season for the Golden State Warriors at a 42 percent mark.
The player to watch from the East will be Kyrie Irving. Although Irving has not had his best season this year, he is the defending three-point champ, and he will certainly be giving it his all to get back-to-back titles.
Slam Dunk Contest
The Slam Dunk Contest was introduced to the All-Star game in 1984, where Larry Nance was crowned champion. Nate Robinson is the only player to win the Dunk Contest three times.
The NBA has put a new spin on the Slam Dunk Contest this year, as it will be a team format, with three players representing the East, and three representing the West. The team from the East is made up of Paul George, John Wall, and defending Dunk Contest champion, Terence Ross. The West will feature Harrison Barnes, Ben Macklemore, and Damian Lillard.
The Dunk Contest will begin with a freestyle round where players will complete as many dunks as they can in 90 seconds. The judges will vote for either the West or East. The conference that comes out ahead, will decide if they want to go first or second in the battle round.
The battle round will pit players from the East and West against each other head-to-head. Whichever conference wins three battles first, will be the champions. Fans will also vote for a Dunker of the night, and that player will receive a separate trophy.
NBA All-Star Saturday night is always an exciting event to watch, mainly because you never know who is going to step up under the bright lights. Expect the hometown New Orleans crowd to provide an electric atmosphere on Saturday night.
Commentary By Eric Kummel