Last night in New Orleans, we were treated to another fantastic NBA All-Star Game with the league’s biggest stars, including CoachUp’s Stephen Curry, taking center stage. Although the Western Conference won the game handily 192 – 182, there were plenty of wonderful moments over the course of the weekend to go around. From Eric Gordon’s giant-slaying in the Three-Point Contest to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s (kind of) extended olive branch, All-Star Weekend offered something for everybody.
Without further ado, here are CoachUp’s Top 10 Moments from the 2017 All-Star Weekend.
10. Kristaps Porzingis wins the Skills Competition
For the second-straight season — shout-out to the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns — the big men reigned kings of the Skills Competition. Over the last few years, the NBA has pitted four guards and four forwards against each other in a dribbling, passing, and shooting contest. After all was said and done, the finals put the New York Knicks’ unicorn Kristaps Porzingis up against Gordon Hayward.
Ultimately, it was Porzingis’ ability to hit a quick three-pointer that would clinch the Knicks their first thing worth celebrating all season. Little victories.
9. Derrick Jones Jr. makes a name for himself
Coming into Saturday night’s Slam Dunk Contest, few knew of Derrick Jones Jr. and his jump-out-of-the-building potential. While he eventually fell against Glenn Robinson III in the finals, Jones Jr. showed up in his first appearance on the NBA’s biggest stage. Something tells me that we’ll see Jones Jr. again next season for another jaw-dropping run at the title — with dunks like these, who would complain?
8. LeBron James is still a machine
In case you hadn’t noticed, the NBA still belongs to LeBron James, who has now appeared in every All-Star game since 2005. His late-game minutes went to newbies like Isaiah Thomas and Kemba Walker, but James lit up the first half with dunk after dunk that reminded us of the unstoppable, game-winning mode he effortlessly moves into at times. Without Tim Duncan or Kobe Bryant in the league, James and fellow 2003 draftee Carmelo Anthony are now the NBA’s oldest All-Stars — where does the time go?
Anyways, enjoy James while he lasts — the future Hall of Famer is a one-of-a-kind talent.
7. Jamal Murray lights up the Rising Stars Challenge
While the rest of the world rightfully has Joel Embiid fever, much of the NBA-watching world has missed out on the Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray, a blisteringly hot shooter that hails from the University of Kentucky. Murray, who would take home the game’s MVP in a landslide, beat out trendy picks like Towns, Dario Saric, and the hometown hero, Buddy Hield by nailing nine three-pointers in the win.
Most look forward to Sunday’s matinee as the big treat, but watching the next up-and-coming class on the national stage is always fun too. From Frank Kaminsky to Kristaps Porzingis, the Rising Stars Challenge always offers an early chance to hop on a bandwagon before it’s too late.
6. Giannis Antetokounmpo shines in first All-Star Game
Giannis “The Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo has been winning the hearts of fans around the country after he was mysteriously drafted 15th overall in 2013. And, in his first-ever All-Star appearance, Antetokounmpo continued his rise up the country-wide consciousness by actually playing some tough defense, attacking the rim with reckless abandon, and going toe-to-toe with Anthony Davis, New Orleans’ hometown stud.
As a starter, Antetokounmpo finished with 30 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals — oh, and Stephen Curry wanted nothing to do with Antetokounmpo in the open floor, a smart decision if you ask us.
5. Glenn Robinson III wins the Slam Dunk Contest
Many were a bit disappointed with Saturday’s outing compared to the fire emoji showdown Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon put on in 2016, but Glenn Robinson III’s performance should not be overlooked. Hailing from another fantastic basketball family — we see you, Dell! — Robinson dispatched the competition’s two favorites, DeAndre Jordan and the aforementioned Gordon, and held off the springy Jones Jr. until the very end. His contest-winning dunk saw him leap over some innocent bystanders en route to an emphatic reverse slam — well worth the price of admission if you ask me.
4. Stephen Curry rocks the headband and hits 5 three-pointers in the win
Although our dude Stephen Curry couldn’t quite reach the phenomenal performances of Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook — more on them in a bit — CoachUp’s very own put up a scorching-hot line from behind the arc. His 21 points, 6 assists, and 5 three-pointers were more than enough to help the Western Conference secure another convincing victory. Those 21 points were tied for the third-most on the team with Kevin Durant, and it was fun to watch our back-to-back MVP launch from an unlimited range once again.
(We’re big fans of the red headband too, by the way, Stephen!)
3. Eric Gordon wins the 3-Point Contest
To the casual viewer, Eric Gordon came into the 3-Point Contest as a mere afterthought and with a stacked field that included Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, and Kyle Lowry, who could blame them? Instead, it was Gordon — who has knocked down the fourth-most 3PM in the NBA this season — that stole the show. After tying Irving in the dying moments of the championship round, the two sharpshooters needed an overtime round to decide the winner, but we suggest you check it out for yourself.
Meet your new champion, Eric Gordon!
2. Russell Westbrook + Kevin Durant dap it out, drop ridiculous stat lines
Before Anthony Davis decided to single-handedly end the game on his own, the story of the night had to be Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant sharing the court for the first time since the latter left the Oklahoma City Thunder in July. The relationship had been strained and non-existent all weekend, but once Durant alley-ooped Westbrook in the first half, the pair were able to crack a couple of smiles and get on with business.
While Westbrook will get the headlines for his 41-point effort, Durant shared the spotlight with a sneaky triple-double line as well. Now, hopefully, the animosity can subside and these two future Hall of Famers can get back to what’s most important: basketball.
1. Anthony Davis sets a single-game All-Star record for points with 52
The Brow put on a performance for the ages in front of the New Orleans faithful, dropping 52 points and 10 rebounds on an astonishing 26-39 from the floor. His outrageous total surpassed Wilt Chamberlain for points in a single-game, who set his 42-point mark way back in 1962. While he ultimately had to share some of the spotlight with the enigmatic Westbrook, Davis put on a heck of a show for the fans that regularly watch him three times a week.
Alvin Gentry, his head coach, advised Davis before the game to “shoot every time he touches the ball” — and it looks like the All-NBA superstar took his advice.