#202. 2017 All-Star Saturday Night was full of surprises
All-Star Saturday Night is one of my favorite nights of the year as a basketball fan. The Skills Challenge, 3-Point Contest, and Dunk Contest are some of the most exciting events that the NBA has to offer. The bevy of celebrity performances and other spectacles bring the excitement to a whole new level. Expectations were thrown all the way out the window in New Orleans tonight.
Sager Strong Foundation
In the middle of the the 3-point and Dunk Contests was an event to raise half of a million dollar for the Sager Strong Foundation. Earlier this year, the NBA and the Sager family lost one of the greatest media personalities of its history, Craig Sager. After a lengthy and inspiring battle with cancer, and an incredible speech at the Espys, Craig was taken home. To celebrate his life, the NBA wanted to give away 500,000 for the Sager Strong Foundation. First, Ernie Johnson(announcer, reporter, media personality, Craig Sager’s personal friend) brought out a series of people to shoot some three pointers(Reggie Miller, DJ Khaled, Candace Parker, Eric Gordon, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Anderson, James Harden, Demar Derozan, and Michael B Jordan). The 13 three-pointers that squad made in a minute got the point total up to $130,000.
They were short of their $500,000 goal, so they recruited 2-time MVP, and NBA champion Steph Curry to try to hit a halfcourt shot. He was still in his street clothes with no warm up(at least from what I saw). He had about 10 tries, and he missed them all(who said halfcourt shots were easy?). So, Shaq came by with Craig Sager’s son, lifted him up, so that he could make a layup for the remaining $370,000.
The Sager Strong “festival” was the best part of the night, it was entertaining and heartwarming wrapped in a beautiful gift basket.
The Skills Challenge has gotten both more interesting and more creative in the last couple years. Now that they have added the bigs as a category in the competition, the Skills Challenge has become inherently more competitive. This year, Isaiah Thomas, John Wall, Devin Booker, and Gordon Hayward( the guards), competed against Nikola Jokic, Kristaps Porzingis, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins( the bigs). The competition was tournament style; the winner of the guard tournament would face the winner of the bigs tournament. The winner of the guard tournament was Gordon Hayward, with the winner of the bigs tournament being Kristaps Porzingis. In the final showdown, 7'3 Latvian Power Forward Kristaps Porzingis walked away with the victory.
The 3 point contest is regarded by many as the best competition All-Star Saturday Night has to offer. CJ McCollum, Kyle Lowry, Wes Matthews, Nick Young, Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, and Eric Gordon competed in the competition. Kyle Lowry, CJ McCollum, and Wes Matthews all walked away with disappointing scores, none scoring more than 11 points.
Nick Young and Klay Thompson barely missed out on the final round, missing out by one point to Kemba Walker, who had 19. Kyrie Irving and Eric Gordon, with 20 and 25 respectively, also moved on to the Final round. In the final round, Kemba was eliminated with 17. Kyrie Irving and Eric Gordon both scored 20, creating a tiebreaker situation. In the tiebreaker, Eric Gordon beat out former 3-point contest champion Kyrie Irving 21 to 18, getting him a 3-point championship to add to his trophy case.
Zach Lavine and Aaron Gordon brought the Dunk Contest back last year, bringing the house down in OT. Unfortunately, this year wasn’t so exciting. Zach Lavine turned down participation, but is injured anyway. Aaron Gordon is also injured, but actually competed in a less-than-stellar performance. DeAndre Jordan jumped over DJ Khaled and his DJ board in his first dunk, but wasn’t much of a show stopper. The Finals came down to Pacers forward Glenn Robinson III and the Suns undrafted rookie Derrick Jones Jr.
Both players put down some fantastic dunks, but Glenn Robinson III put the nail in the coffin with his final dunk, winning the Slam Dunk championship.