West Tops East in Offense-Heavy All-Star Game

The NBA All-Star Weekend took place in Houston, Texas from Feb. 15 to 17, and it was truly one of the more exciting in recent memory.  The events included the Rising Stars Challenge, Skills Challenge, 3-point contest and slam dunk contest, all culminating in the 62nd NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night.

The Rising Stars Challenge, also known as the rookie/sophomore game, featured teams captained by NBA legends Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley, Team Shaq and Team Chuck. Team Chuck easily handled Team Shaq, 163-135, with Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried earning MVP in a game with even less defense than the actual All-Star Game. 

Kyrie Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 20-year-old sensation, won the 3-point contest in impressive fashion. Irving, a point guard more known for his passing ability than his shooting, put on a show in the final round with 23 points, two short of the all-time record.

The dunk contest is usually the most exciting event of the whole weekend, even overshadowing the All-Star game itself, and this year it did not disappoint. The dunkers included Eric Bledsoe, Jeremy Evans, Kenneth Faried, Gerald Green, Terrence Ross and James White, none of whom can yet be considered an NBA star. (LeBron James, arguably the biggest star in the game, controversially has never participated in the contest.)

Despite a lack of notable stars, the dunk contest entertained with two highlights in particular: Evans dunking off a lob from the side of the backboard and Ross dunking the ball over a man sitting in a chair. Evans dunked over a hidden object which he revealed to be a drawing of that very dunk, but that was not enough to seal the victory. Ross, a forward from the Toronto Raptors, won in a fan vote after ending the night on a dunk inspired by former Raptor Vince Carter.

Two New York Knicks entered the night with lofty expectations, but neither made the Big Apple proud. Steve Novak started the 3-point shootout hot before faltering in the final three racks. White, who entered the dunk competition as the favorite, failed to convert his second dunk before the allotted time expired. 

The actual All-Star game, featuring superstars such as James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul, was high-scoring and fast-paced, as usual. The West emerged victorious, 143-138, with Paul earning the MVP after a 20-point, 15-assist performance. One notable highlight was Bryant blocking James’ jump shot after getting beat by the younger star on a fast-break layup a few minutes earlier.