Basketball: All-Star Game 2021

It is that time again in which the best the NBA has to offer go head-to-head in a variety of challenges and a match full of lobs, dunks and points. This year we are in Atlanta, in spite of all the calls for the event to be cancelled by many of the people involved in the sport. However, NBA Commisioner, Adam Silver, has gone ahead with the event, albeit with some major alterations.

Order of Events:
– Skills Challenge
– 3-pt Contest
– All-Star Game Quarters 1&2
– Dunk Contest (during half-time)
– All-Star Game Quarters 3&4

Why Atlanta?

Originally the event was scheduled to take place in Indianopolis, but the plug was pulled on that a year ago. Atlanta stepped in, and honestly, is the perfect location for the event. Firstly, the State Farm Arena has a hotel attached to it, making it ‘easier’ to ensure some sort of safety for the participants. Secondly, with the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement going on, the NBA have decided to celebrate all Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) during the event. Atlanta happens to be a hub for such institutions with a few of them within 3-pt range of the arena.

Skills Challenge

Competitors: Luka Doncic, Chris Paul, Domantis Sabonis, Robert Covington, Julius Randle, Nikola Vucevic

Rules: Two players will run a course simultaneously, trying to complete it first. The course consists of dribbling, passing, and a 3-pt shot to finish off. Two of the six competitors will get a bye to the semi-finals based on NBA voting, and the other four will compete to join them. It’s head-to-head elimination… well, you get it.

This competition should favour the backcourt players, yet they always seem to struggle. Chris Paul in particular has failed on numerous occasions, and you can’t help but think that this will be his last attempt at securing the title. Unfortunately, I don’t see him winning.

Predicted Winner: Domantis Sabonis

3-PT Contest

Competitors: Steph Curry, Devin Booker, Jaylen Brown, Jason Tatum, Zach Lavine, Donovan Mitchell.

Rules: Each player will have five racks located around the 3-pt line. Each rack consists of five balls. Four of those racks will consist of four normal balls, worth a point each, and one multi-coloured ball, known as the money-ball, worth two points. The fifth rack will consist of five money-balls, which the competing player can place in any one of the five locations around the 3-pt line. There will also be two spots, located 6-ft further away from the 3-pt line, with a ball at each one. These balls are green, and worth three points. A total of 40 points is available. Each player has 70 seconds to complete the round. Top three scorers advance to the Championship round, and go again. Top score wins.

Normally, fans around the world look forward to the All-Star game itself, but when you look at the line-up for the 3-pt contest, the excitement is justified. Steph Curry is the best shooter I have ever seen in the NBA, a previous winner in 2015, and came runner-up in his other appearance in the contest to teammate Klay Thompson. Mitchell and Lavine are great on their day from beyond the arc, and the friendly competition between Tatum and Brown – teammates at Boston Celtics – is going to receive some attention, too.

Predicted Winner: Steph Curry

Slam Dunk Contest

Competitors: Cassius Stanley, Obi Toppin, Anfernee Simons

Rules: The three players will perform two dunks each, which will be scored by five judges, who can give a score between 6-10 each. After the two dunks each are completed, all points are totalled, with the lowest scoring player eliminated. The remaining two players will perform a dunk each. Each judge will lift a card up with the name of the player who’s dunk they preferred. Whoever gets more votes is the winner.

I’m not sure I will even watch this! After the rubbish that happened last year, and continuously seeing Aaron Gordon be robbed, I have questioned the legitimacy of the competition. This year, there are three rookies, which is all that this rigged contest deserves. Long gone are it’s blue ribboned days with the likes of Michael Jordan, and Vince Carter performing monster dunks.

Predicted Winner: Cassius Stanley

All-Star Game

Team Lebron: Lebron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, Jaylen Brown, Paul George, Damian Lillard, Domantis Sabonis, Chris Paul, Ben Simmons, Rudy Gobert.
Team Durant: Bradley Beal, Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Jason Tatum, James Harden, Devin Booker, Zach Lavine, Julius Randle, Nikola Vucevic, Donovan Mitchell, Zion Williamson.

Rules: The game will follow the same structure as last year. The teams will be playing to win each of the first three quarters of the game. Winner of each quarter will be awarded $150,000 towards their chosen charity (Team Lebron’s charity is Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and Team Durant are playing for United Negro College Fuund). At the same time, an accumulated score will be kept too. For example, if Team Lebron wins all three quarters 30-31, they will be awarded $450,000. Then, 24 (in honour of Kobe Bryant) will be added to the leading score, in this case 93, determining the target score of 117. When one team achieves that score, the match is over, and the winner is awarded a further $300,000 for their charity.

Last year was fantastic! This year will be, too! I feel as though Team Lebron’s roster ended up a little stronger but the game should still be competitive. If you have even the slightest bit of interest in Basketball, then watch the final quarter.

Predicted Winner and MVP: Team Lebron and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The event will be held March 7th for those of you in the Americas, and March 8th for people in Europe and Asia. In fact, it’s starting pretty soon!

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