As the majority of NBA players gear up for a mid-season vacation, there will be just a select amount of top-talented players who will be competing all weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The city plays host to all-star weekend starting Friday February 15 through Sunday February 17.
The weekend begins with the All-Star Celebrity game at 7 p.m. ET with big name celebrities like Quavo, Doctor Oz, Stefanie Dolson, Amanda Seales, and more! The celebrity game itself has grown from a pick-up game to actual competition in recent years as celebrities get to live as professional basketball players on this night.
Quavo himself from the rap group ‘Migos’ is looking to go back-to-back as MVP in this star-studded affair.
Shortly after, the NBA Rising Stars Challenge begins at 9 p.m. ET. The format will consist of ‘Team World’ versus the ‘U.S. Team’, with Dallas Mavericks’ (DAL) young star Luka Doncic headlining the world team and Boston Celtics (BOS) own Jayson Tatum headlining the U.S. Team. This new installment has become one of the top highlights of the weekend as it gives a glimpse of international style of play versus the style developed in the states. The debate of U.S. players dominating the basketball world has diminished because of this game, as it displays the high competitiveness of players all-around the world matching-up equally.
Last year, ‘Team World’ took home the win as they demonstrated their skill-set was more developed and unique. They’ve also have taken the win in three of the last four match-ups. This year, the U.S. team contains better individual talent. However as a collective unit we could see Doncic, Phoenix Suns’ (PHO) Center (C) DeAndre Ayton, and Chicago Bulls’ (CHI) Power Forward (PF) Lauri Markkanen lead ‘Team World’ to back-to-back wins.
Saturday at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, the night kicks off at 8 p.m. ET lining up the skills challenge, slam dunk contest, and the 3-point contest.
The skills challenge kicks-off the night as the opening act, where players will go through certain basketball fundamentals in a timed race. This year the challenge has Point Guard (PG) Mike Conley of the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas (G/F) Doncic, the Sacramento Kings (SAC) (PG) De’Aaron Fox, Denver Nuggets (C) Nikola Jokic, Los Angeles Lakers Forward (F) Kyle Kuzma, Boston’s (SF) Tatum, Orlando Magic’s (C) Nikola Vucevic, and the Atlanta Hawks very own (PG) Trae Young.
Following the skills challenge, the 3-point contest is playing a huge role this year as the NBA hometown brothers will be competing against one another in Golden State Warriors (GS) Stephen Curry and Portland Trailblazers (POR) Seth Curry. Stephen has revolutionized the 3-point shot like Hall of Fame Shooting Guard (SG) Michael Jordan did for the slam dunk but for Stephen, he’s going to relish in this opportunity. For him it’s going to be a glorified backyard competition with his younger brother in the place that showed them the love of the game.
Guard (G) Devin Booker of the Suns will be defensing his title from last year versus the top 3-point assassins of the league, including Charlotte’s very own (PG) Kemba Walker.
The Slam Dunk Contest has been a up and down competition the last few years. It hasn’t been represented by the top names in the league as they usually defer to just the high-flyers that aren’t well known. This year Charlotte’s Rookie (F) Miles Bridges will represent ‘Buzz City’ with a selection of emphatic dunks he’s been displaying all season. He will be competing versus the Hawks (C) John Collins, Oklahoma City Thunder (OKC) (G/F) Hamiduo Diallo and New York Knicks newly acquired (G) Dennis Smith Jr. Smith Jr. looks to be the biggest threat to winning the trophy as he has the best dunks thus far.
Laslty, the 68th NBA All-Star game will take place on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.
Team LeBron will take on Team Giannis in a most-anticipated offensive scoring game. Team LeBron took the crown from Team Curry in last year’s competition, and this year are heavy favorites to take that crown again in this newly formatted game. Team LeBron has a starting five of: himself, Celtic Kyrie Irving, Warriors Kevin Durant, Toronto Raptor (TOR) Kawhi Leonard, and Houston Rockets (HOU) James Harden. However, Giannis believes he picked the team to win this year as it includes: Stephen Curry, Philadelphia 76er (C) Joel Embiid, OKC Thunder Paul George, Kemba Walker, Dallas Maverick Dirk Nowitzki, and OKC Thunder Russell Westbrook was a big pick-up as he was traded for 76er Ben Simmons.
Whether you’re a defensive-minded individual or not, the all-star game is a showcase for the top athletes in the NBA to just have fun with carefree intentions (that is until that last minutes unfold and usually decide the winner of the game). Buzz City will be the epicenter of basketball this weekend, so get ready for high-flying, sharp-shooting, and headliner outfits.