March 15, 2021
by Arbe Jay Polancos
Traditionally, the All-Star event of the NBA begins with the casting of votes from NBA players, administration, front office, and of course- fans, to who they deem deserves to be an All-Star player. An All-Star player is evaluated by his performance in points, assists, and overall gameplay. This time, however, like last year, a little twist was added in the selection of players from the Eastern and Western conference.
Each team has a leader, or a captain ball to pick who they would want for their team. The roster of candidate players to be chosen is based on the votes cast beforehand. For this year’s All-Star captains, LeBron James takes one side and Kevin Durant on the opposing team. LeBron has chosen Giannis Antetokounmpo as his first pick followed by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Dončić, and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić. The chosen reserves for Team LeBron are Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons, Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown, LA Clippers forward Paul George, Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis, and center Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.
For Team Durant, he chose his Brooklyn Nets teammate Kyrie Irving as the first pick who was followed by 76ers center Joel Embiid, Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, and Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (replaced Durant as the starter since Durant is injured) as his starters. Team Durant’s reserves consist of Nets guard James Harden, Suns guard Devin Booker, New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, New York Knicks forward Julius Randle, Orlando Magic center Nikola Vučević and Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. There were supposed players for Team Durant who were voted but weren’t able to play because of injury (Anthony Davis and Devin Booker) so they were replaced. Mike Conley replaced Devin Booker.
The All-Star weekend started with the Taco Bell Skills Challenge in which players, both big and small in stature, showcase their overall basketball abilities starting with a sprint and obstacle course followed by a ball-passing test, a lay-up, and lastly a three-point shot. The players involved were Robert Covington of the Trailblazers, Luka Dončić of the Mavericks, Chris Paul of the Suns, Julius Randle of the Knicks, Domantas Sabonis of the Pacers, and lastly, Orlando Magic center Nikola Vučević. In a heated battle between the big and small players, two big men, Sabonis and Vučević faced off in the final round where Sabonis ultimately won the title of being the champion.
Next was the Mountain Dew Three-Point shootout between the league’s greatest shooters in the person of Devin Booker of the Suns (replaced by Mike Conley of the Jazz), Jaylen Brown of the Celtics, Stephen Curry of the Warriors, Zach Lavine of the Bulls, Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz, and lastly, Jason Tatum of the Celtics. The shootout was intensely coveted by these players considering that they were also up against two-time three-point shooting champion, Stephen Curry. They battled hoop after hoop with Mike Conley and Stephen Curry in the championship round and eventually, Curry emerged victorious after beating the underdog, Mike Conley.
For the main event, Team Durant and Team Lebron, who had their own charity organizations to support, fought off for the glory. Eventually, Team Lebron won and had the proceeds of their bout towards Thurgood Marshall College Fund. At halftime of the game, the dunk contest was also played between Anfernee Simon, Cassius Stanley, and Obi Toppin where Simon was the champion.