Firstpost Explains: What makes the NBA All-Star weekend such a big deal?

Rudy Golbert broke down at not having been picked as a 2019 All-Star. Karl-Anthony Towns is said to have sat down on the floor in tears after being overwhelmed at his name being picked.

For the rest of the world, the All-Star weekend seems like an occasion for players to have fun and show off at an exhibition game. But for the players, the All-Star weekend is a big deal.

It's a weekend heavy with the euphoria of slow-motion dunks, blockbuster match-ups and stardust.

It's an occasion where the magic happens.

It's where Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, the current President for Basketball Operations for the LA Lakers, came out of retirement for just one game to blow away the East with a 25-point, nine-assist performance. It was an emotional moment for the fans, and the player himself, because Johnson had prematurely retired just before the season began after announcing that he had contracted HIV.

It's where Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal reconciled their seasons-long differences in 2009. The duo shared three NBA Championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002 as part of the LA Lakers, but they often feuded eventually leading to them falling out.

However, at the 2009 All-Star Game, Bryant and Shaq were both jointly declared as MVPs. Bryant graciously told Shaq to take the MVP trophy home for his son.

"You told me to take the trophy home," O'Neal tells Bryant in a video which aired before last year's All-Star game. "I took it home and gave it to my son Shareef. I realized then that I may have messed something up.

He continued: "I was an a*****e to this guy (Bryant), so I owe you an apology. I'm going to give you an apology... Thank you for that moment because Shareef loved that moment. He loves you for that and I love you for that moment."

For the fans, the All-Star weekend is an opportunity to watch players on the same team that will not be possible in real-life NBA.

There are also moments with the ability to go viral, like this dance-off between Shaq and LeBron James:

Team LeBron vs Team Giannis

The centrepiece of the All-Star weekend is often the All-Star Game itself, which pits the talents of the best players in the league against each other.

Players who get to play in this game are selected on the basis of a combination of votes from fans (who could have voted through the NBA.com website, the NBA app, Google.com or Google Assistant), media and players themselves. While fans' votes were given 50 percent weightage for getting a player a starter role in an All-Star Game, players' and media's votes get 25 percent weightage each.

This year, by courtesy of having polled the most votes, LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo were elected as the team leaders.

The draft for the All-Star team — which was broadcast for the first time ever — was more entertaining than anyone could have imagined.

Eventually, here's who the two captains picked:

And here's how the teams were picked:

Team LeBron

Team LeBron was the side that set tongues wagging because the Lakers superstar picked many stars who would be free agents in the upcoming free agency. Here's a look at what you can expect from the side:

Team Giannis

Despite the presence of Steph Curry, Giannis' team seems to lack the same star power as that of Team LeBron. Giannis admitted that his emphasis was on picking players who are his friends. Here's what you can expect from Team Giannis:

There are other events on the weekend as well:

NBA All-Star Celebrity Game

On Friday, the NBA universe will warm up to the All-Star weekend with the Celebrity Game, where some former players mix it up with celebrities from all walks of life. This year's game will see celebrities like Chris Daughtry, actor Mike Colter (of Luke Cage fame), and Hasan Minhaj take the court along with athletes like Basketball Hall of Famer Ray Allen, A'ja Wilson (2018 WNBA Rookie of the Year), and Stefanie Dolson (WNBA’s Chicago Sky center).

Rising Stars

Friday will also see a match-up of future NBA stars, divided into Team USA and Team World. Expect this to be a power-packed contest with the likes of Dallas Maverick rookie Luka Doncic, Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons and Utah Jazz's Donovan Mitchell taking the court. Here are the two teams:

Team USA: Jarrett Allen, Marvin Bagley III, Lonzo Ball (injured), John Collins, De'Aaron Fox, Jaren Jackson Jr., Kevin Knox, Kyle Kuzma, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum.

Team World: OG Anunoby, Deandre Ayton, Bogdan Bogdanović, Luka Dončić, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Rodions Kurucs, Lauri Markkanen, Josh Okogie, Cedi Osman, Ben Simmons

Skills Challenge

The Skills Challenge was first included in the All-Star weekend in 2003. This year, eight players ― both veterans and rookies ― will go head-to-head through an obstacle course for the title.

The players have to navigate an obstacle course which requires them to dribble, pass, and shooting. The course will test their agility.

This year's contestants are:

Luka Dončić - Dallas Mavericks

Jayson Tatum - Boston Celtics

Kyle Kuzma - LA Lakers

De’Aaron Fox - Sacramento Kings

Nikola Jokić - Denver Nuggets

Nikola Vučević - Orlando Magic

Trae Young - Atlanta Hawks

Mike Conley - Memphis Grizzlies

Three-point contest

The three-point contest has been included in the NBA All-Star weekend since 1986. The legendary Boston Celtics player Larry Bird won the first three editions, while in recent years Steph Curry (2015), Klay Thompson (2016) and Kyrie Irving (2013) have won the event.

The objective is to shoot as many three-pointers as possible from the three-point line, moving between stations in the timespan of a minute.

Here's this year's 10-man field:

Stephen Curry - Golden State Warriors

Seth Curry - Portland Trail Blazers

Khris Middleton - Milwaukee Bucks

Dirk Nowitzki - Dallas Mavericks

Kemba Walker - Charlotte Hornets

Devin Booker - Phoenix Suns

Danny Green - Toronto Raptors

Joe Harris - Brooklyn Nets

Buddy Hield - Sacramento Kings

Damian Lillard - Portland Trail Blazers

Slam Dunk contest

This one's one of the showpiece events of the weekend. This is why:

Each of the four competitors will get two dunks in the first round, scored from six to 10. The top two scorers then advance to the final..

This year, the Dunk Contest will be contested by:

Dennis Smith Jr - New York Knicks

Miles Bridges - Charlotte Hornets

Hamidou Diallo - Oklahoma City Thunder

John Collins - Atlanta Hawks

Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.

Updated Date: Feb 15, 2019 15:02:18 IST

Also See