Get the beer bottle open and the popcorn ready, the NBA All-Star Weekend is around the corner. This year‘s festivities have not been short of story lines leading up to the 66th edition of the game of the game. Change of location? Russell Westbeast not in the starting five lineup? Zaza Pachulia as a starter thanks to fan votes? No Zach LaVine for the Dunk Contest? There have been quite some topics of conversation surrounding the event.
Due to the controversal North Carolina Transgender bathroom law, the NBA has relocated the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend. Commissioner Silver and the NBA have taken a stand against discrimination and pulled the Games out of Charlotte, presenting New Orleans this year‘s All-Star festivities. NOLA and its local superstar Anthony Davis can’t wait to host the best players in the league, Hall of Famers, dozens of celebrities and thousands of basketball fans.
The NBA All-Star Weekend 2017 will bring together some of the most talented and passionate players in the league’s history – all united for the love of the game. Even if the fan, player and media voting led to quite a dissensus, the starters are now set and include supremacy, superstars and surprises.
The weekend starts this February 17th and leaves basketball enthusiasts addicted until Sunday, the February 19th. Do not even think about planning anything throughout the weekend, ’cause the only schedule you need is the NBA All-Star Weekend Schedule! The event will open with the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game and Rising Stars Challenge. The next day will feature fan favorites like the NBA Skills Contest, Three Point Contest and Dunk Contest. The All-Star Game itself will headline the last day of All-Star festivities, featuring performances from the Grammy Award winning hip hop group The Roots and R’n’B artist John Legend. A star studded weekend – We can‘t wait!
FRIDAY, February 17th
10:30 A.M. | BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge Practice
12 P.M. | All-Star media availability
7 P.M. | NBA All-Star Celebrity Game (01:00 CET)
9 P.M. | BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge (03:00 CET)
NBA All-Star Celebrity Game 2017
This year is going to be extra hard for some All-Star Celebrity Game fans. The reason: Kevin Hart! Pure power, size and athleticism are his trade mark, but the four-time MVP will not participate in this year’s game. The man, who – in recent years – has been dominating the competition, gave way for other talents to follow in his footsteps. To get us over the trauma, let’s see who is teaming up to rock the court this weekend. From child actors to NBA legends, we will see a range of very promising players: Jemele Hill is coaching the East Team, featuring the Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry, the “Fault in Our Stars” actor Ansel Elgort, the Arcade Fire’s frontman and defending MVP Win Butler, the “greatest basketball player never to play in the NBA” Oscar Schmidt, NBA darling Jason “White Chocolate” Williams, the only non-WNBA star woman in the game and rising TV host Rachel DeMita and other fascinating competitors. The Western Team is led by Michael Smith and guarantees a lot of fun either. The 11-year old actor Miles Brown, the NBA legend Baron Davis, the one and only rap mogul Master P, chef and Chopped judge Aaron Sanchez, WNBA Sparks star Candace Parker and many more are representing the West. Actors against musicians, comedians against models, basketball legends against TV personalities, owners against WNBA players – the All Star Celebrity Game 2017 will once again be full of star power. Keep your fingers crossed that the Celebrity Game legend Kevin Hart will nonetheless have his very own appearance. Come on guys, he is the h(e)art of the event – you can not keep him out of this thing!
BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2017
The United States against the World, literally speaking. It is save to say that the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2017 between the world’s best rookies and sophomores and their US counterparts is going to be full of highlights, pure basketball action and athletic ability. KAT, Devin Booker, Joel Embiid and Kristaps Porzingis highlight the list of 20 players selected by the league’s assistant coaches. While previous Teams were divided into Sophomores vs. Rookies or Team Chuck vs. Team Shaq, the matchup of U.S. Team vs. World Team has withstand since 2015. This year’s World Team features players from Kamerun, Australia, Serbia, Congo, Latvia, Bahamas, Canada and Croatia. We are a little bit sad that we do not have the chance to cheer for a german player, but we are still very excited to see the stars of tomorrow play on court. Future Hall of Famers will compete in a game, let’s see who will be in charge on Friday!
U.S. Team Roster World Team Roster
Devin Booker (Suns) Joel Embiid (76ers)
Malcolm Brogdon (Bucks) Danté Exum (Jazz)
Marquese Chriss (Suns) Buddy Hield (Pelicans)
Brandon Ingram (Lakers) Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)
Frank Kaminsky (Hornets) Trey Lyles (Jazz)
Jahlil Okafor (76ers) Emmanuel Mudiay (Nuggets)
D’Angelo Russell (Lakers) Jamal Murray (Nuggets)
Jonathon Simmons (Spurs) Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks)
Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves) Domantas Sabonis (Thunder)
Myles Turner (Pacers) Dario Saric (76ers)
SATURDAY, February 18th
11 A.M. | Hall of Fame Announcement
12 P.M. | NBA All-Star Practice
2:30 P.M. | NBA D-League All-Star Game presented by Kumho Tire
7 P.M. | Commissioner Adam Silver media availability
8 P.M. | State Farm All-Star Saturday Night (starting at 02:00 CET)
1) Taco Bell Skills Challenge 2017
Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Gordon Hayward, Isaiah Thomas, John Wall, Devin Booker, Kristaps Porzingis, Joel Embiid
After a fantastic Celebrity Game and a fierce battle of rookies vs. sophomores, it is finally time for the big stars of the league. Incredible shooting. Mind-blowing dunks. The All-Star Saturday has it all. The Taco Bell Skills Challenge kicks off the legendary State Farm All-Star Saturday Night. The event has been reworked to feature guards against the big men of the league, testing them in their speed, ball-handling and shooting skills. Last year, Karl-Anthony Towns won in the finals against Isaiah Thomas – the 6’11” Center of the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the 5’9″ Point Guard of the Boston Celtics, sparking a wild celebration among the competing big men. Isaiah Thomas will be one of the popular faces on the court this Saturday. While KAT will miss this year’s Skill Challenge, several other big men will make their debuts such as Knicks-wonder Kristaps Porzingis (7’3″) and multi-talented rookie Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia Sixers (7’0″) – the latter wanted to be an All-Star for the best reason ever: to land him a date with Rihanna.
2) JBL Three-Point Contest
Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker, Eric Gordon, Wesley Matthews, C.J. McCollum, Nick Young
It’s the battle of the best sharp shooters in the league. Golden State’s Klay Thompson will return to defend his 2016 title, without his teammate Steph Curry standing in his way this year. It won’t be easy for the Warrior’s Shooting Guard though – even if Curry, leading the league in made 3-pointers this season, is not participating, Klay will have to see if he can stand the rest of the competitors. We are particularly excited to see Kemba Walker and Nick “Swaggy P” Young in this contest. No one else can celebrate missed shots the way they do. Celebratory shimmies one second too early – we can’t wait!
3) Verizon Slam Dunk
DeAndre Jordan, Glenn Robinson III, Aaron Gordon, Derrick Jones, Jr.
At least Aaron Gordon won’t have to worry about losing the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest to Zach LaVine again this year. With the two-times dunk contest winner out for the rest of the season, Gordon could benefit from LaVine’s season-ending injury. Be as it may, Aaron Gordon is our favorite to win the Verizon Slam Dunk. He will nevertheless have quite some interesting competition. DeAndre Jordan will join him in this one. The Clippers’ center will try to challenge the conventional wisdom that big men struggle to shine in dunk contests. Derrick Jones Jr., the least-known participant in the contest, and Glenn Robinson III might be quite a tough challenge for Gordon as well. The Verizon Slam Dunk is one of the fan’s favorite contests of the All-Star Weekend. Several celebrities as well as active NBA players will show up – one more reason, why Gordon & Co. will give the audience a breath-taking performance and amazing dunks.
SUNDAY, February 19th
11 A.M. | NBA Legends Brunch
8 P.M. | 66th NBA All-Star Game (02:00 CET)
Sunday, 8 P.M. (02:00 CET), get on your couch and switch on your TV, ’cause the NBA All-Star Game is about to start. This year’s game will be quite an interesting matchup. None other than Russell Westbrook made the headlines previous to the traditional game – since the Thunder‘s Point Guard, AVERAGING a triple double, was not even named a starter. Voters did not respect the Westbeast enough to put him right in the lineup – too bad! In addition to that, the spotlight was set on Westbrook and his former teammate Kevin Durant, who is calling himself a Warrior now. Can both players patch things up at the game and play side by side? Westbrook has been on a revenge tour all season, let‘s see if he is capable of winning his third MVP performance – without being a damn starter. James „The Beard“ Harden will make it difficult for him, though, being only a hair behind Russell in individual stats.
The storylines don‘t end with Westbrook. What about the rest of the superstars? DeMar DeRozan makes the starting five and we are convinced, he deserves it. Kemba Walker and other notable players will make their debut. Giannis Antetokounmpo will put on a show alongside the King himself. Both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors have two of their superstars in the Western and Eastern starting fives.
What about the notorious Western supremacy? Since 2000, the Eastern Conference has won just six games. Will the West make it three times in a row this year? Let‘s see if the conference starring LeBron James can keep pace this Durant, Leonard & Co. This sunday, 8 P.M. (02:00 CET), it is finally time for the big show.
(Photo credits: NBA.com, Getty Images)