Unheralded Marco Belinelli and sophomore shooting guard Bradley Beal did something that even the great Larry Bird was not able to do. They made the 3 point shooting contest more interesting than the slam dunk contest. To be fair, Larry had Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Spud Webb and the whole cabal of dunkers to deal with. Saturday night’s dunk contest didn’t even come close. Here’s an event by event recap of All Star Weekend’s Saturday night.
Shooting Stars Challenge –
For the second year running Team Bosh monopolized the shooting stars challenge. Powered by two effortless half court shots from Chris Bosh, his team steamrollered the father son duos of Tim Hardaway Sr. and Jr. and Dell and Stephen Curry before beating Team Durant in the finals.
Team Bosh’s amazing performance –
Taco Bells Skills Challenge –
The skills challenge underwent a bit of a change in format this year, with a more team based approach. Two teams from each conference went head to head with each other with the winners meeting in the finals. From the Eastern Conference, the all rookie duo of Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams beat out the pairing of DeMar Derozan and the Greek Freak Giannis Antetokuonmpo. In the Western Conference matchup, Damian Lillard, the defending champion, and rookie Trey Burke combined to overcome the challenge from Goran Dragic and Reggie Jackson, helped in no small part by Reggie’s laziness. In the title clash, Oladipo and Carter-Williams posted a time of 45.3 seconds. However, the western conference guard duo of Lillard and Burke bettered their time by 0.1 second to finish first and claim the trophy.
Here’s a video of Lillard and Burke’s winning attempt –
Foot Locker 3 point contest –
This event saw some big duds among the 8 participants. Former winners Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love crashed out in the first round. They were joined by pre game favourite Stephen Curry. Brooklyn Nets’ Joe Johnson, who scored only 11 points and Arron Afflalo also went out tamely while Damian Lillard lost out by a margin of 1 point to Marco Belinelli who qualified out of the west. In the east, Bradley Beal turned up a 21 point performance to seal his place in the finals. The finals saw Beal close superbly by draining his last 6 shots to tie Belinelli’s score and force a tie breaker. In the tie breaker Marco put up an amazing 24 points on the back of a hot shooting streak while Beal could only manage 21.
Marco’s winning run can be found here –
Sprite Slam Dunk Contest –
I’ll be straightforward. It was boring. After the excitement of the 3 point contest, the Dunk Contest failed to live up to the hype even though it was headlined by 3 All Stars in Paul George, Damian Lillard and John Wall. The format was tweaked to include a 90 second freestyle round and 1 on 1 battles in the second round. In freestyle, the east team consisting of George, Wall and Terrence Ross executed some great individual and team dunks. It was enough to give them victory over a largely uninspired performance from the Western Conference team comprising Lillard, Harrison Barnes and Ben McLemore. Although Damian Lillard did throw down a sick between the legs dunk, it was not enough.
Lillard’s dunk –
In the 1 on 1 battles, Terrence Ross trumped Damian Lillard in the first battle after two show stopping dunks. In the second round, Paul George’s uber athletic between the legs 360 dunk annihilated a half hearted windmill from Harrison Barnes.
George’s Dunk –
But the highlight of the show was the 3rd round. It started with Ben McLemore dunking after jumping over Shaquille O’Neal seated on a throne. But John Wall outshone him with a double pump reverse jam over the Washington Wizards mascot, G-Man.
Ben McLemore vs. John Wall –
The East swept the dunk contest with Wall being voted as the Dunker of the Night. But the lack of a true champion and very few dunks did take away the shine from the event that was to be the highlight of the evening.