The first day of All-Star Weekend is officially over, and the Celebrity Game and Rising Stars Challenge did not disappoint in providing an exciting opening night for the biggest event in basketball. Big performances from celebrities like Brandon Armstrong and Rachel A DeMita, combined with strong showings from Karl-Anthony Towns and Jamal Murray in the Rising Stars Challenge highlighted the initial night of All-Star Weekend. So let’s get into it.
NBA impersonator Brandon Armstrong, better known as “BDotADot5” on YouTube and social media, claimed the MVP award in the Celebrity Game with a 16 point, 15 rebound performance to get the ball rolling in New Orleans. 2KTV presenter Rachel A DeMita had a great game also, creating a sense of joy from NBA 2K fans watching the game. Armstrong not only had a great game, but brought in his signature James Harden eurostep impression into the game, which undoubtedly was a travel, but was still a nice reference to the YouTube star’s videos. NBA legend Jason Williams, aka “White Chocolate,” brought back his beloved elbow pass in the game, dishing it into the paint for a smooth dime from one of the best in the business in terms of flashy passes. The celebrities acknowledged one of the largest trends online by bringing the “Mannequin Challenge” into the game, freezing the court after an airballed 3 point attempt, which highlighted the fun that was brought on by the celebs. Compared to recent years, I feel this was the best Celebrity Game in the last 5, maybe 6 years, and the Mannequin Challenge showed the celebs weren’t taking the game too seriously, but provided a fair balance of balling and entertaining the fans, which is of course what this game is all about.
The Rising Stars Challenge was, as it normally is, a lot of fun to watch, with a game filled with fast-paced offence and a ludicrous amount of highlights, and obviously an almost ridiculous lack of defence. Jamal Murray brought home the MVP title in a 36 point, 11 assist showing for the World rookies, splashing 9 threes in the progress. Buddy Hield was just a fun player to watch, throwing lobs, catching lobs, and throwing the ball off the glass to himself and finishing with a 360 lay-up, highlighting what this game is all about; having fun and entertaining the fans. Jonathon Simmons had a great game also, with more than a few dunks in the game and one of the filthiest blocks I’d ever seen. Frank Kaminsky was red-hot all game, splashing 3’s from everyone on the court, showing he has the range to make it in the NBA. Nikola Jokic released his inner Chris Webber, showing his playmaking skills with several impressive dimes to Kristaps Porzingis, who also had a great game with a mix of dunks and 3-pointers. D’Angelo Russell was showing off the handles all game, dancing around defenders and knocking down shots for most of the night, he also had a great game. Karl-Anthony Towns had a huge game, flying up and down the court in transition, showing he has the agility that most big men could only dream of. And, of course, this was all topped off by Jamal Murray’s MVP performance of splashes and dimes. This was a genuinely exciting game to watch, but I wouldn’t suggest tuning in if you’re fan of hard defence, because that was almost non-existent, aside from a couple of highlight-deserving blocks from Simmons and Porzingis.
Day 1 of the 2016-2017 All-Star Weekend was a big success, and provided an exciting preview of what’s to come tonight and tomorrow with the upcoming events. The Skills Challenge, 3 Point Shootout and Dunk Contest take place tonight, so be sure to check those out before the headlining All-Star Game on Sunday. Let me know what you thought of the Celebrity Game and Rising Stars Challenge, and if you’re going to watch the rest of this weekend’s events, because it’s only going to get better from here on out. Follow my blog for more on All-Star Weekend, and check out my Twitter for my reactions to all the events in New Orleans over the next couple of days. Enjoy your day!