NBA all-stars shine the brightest in Houston

The Western Conference All-Stars are victorious, Terrence Ross wins the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, and the rest of the events from the NBA’s All-Star Weekend.

By Edwin Blebu

The NBA’s all-star weekend officially began Friday evening with the Sprint Celebrity Game. The celebrities were divided into two teams, East versus West, and it was the West team that won 58-38. Some notable celebrity players include R&B recording artist Trey Songz, comedian Kevin Hart, actor Josh Hutcherson and Olympic champion Usain Bolt.

The West team, led by last year’s MVP Kevin Hart, got out to a fast start going up 30-19 and sustained the lead throughout the game. Despite only scoring five points during the game Hart was awarded MVP for the second consecutive year. Hart’s dramatic acceptance speech when he received the MVP trophy was met with several laughs in the audience at the end of the game.

The BBVA Rising Stars Challenge was a battle of the hand-selected teams by TNT’s NBA analysts Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley. Team Shaq and Team Chuck were comprised of exceptional first and second year players in the NBA. This year Team Chuck won the game 163-135. Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried was awarded the game’s MVP as he scored 40 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving tallied 32 points and six assists for Team Shaq.

The Taco Bell Skills Challenge is a showcase of the various ball skills of the elite point guards in the NBA. This year’s competition included Jrue Holliday of the Philadelphia 76ers, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks, Brandon Knight of the Detroit Pistons, Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs and Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets.

The rookie Lillard emerged victorious from the talented group of guards, defeating Holiday in the final round. In addition to being crowned the winner of the challenge, Lillard also won a $25,000 collegiate scholarship through the Boys and Girls Club of Houston, Texas for a young man by the name of Poppie Simmons.

Going into Saturday evening, The Footlocker Three-Point Contest was widely considered to be a two-man competition between Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and Steve Novak of the New York Knicks.

However, it was Irving of the Cavaliers who stole the show and advanced to the second round against Matt Bonner of the San Antonio Spurs. Irving would go on to win the competition by scoring 23 points in the final round.

Widely considered by many to be the main attraction of Saturday night’s All-Star festivities, the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest featured six of the league’s athletic dunkers: Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors, Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets, Gerald Green of the Indiana Pacers, James White of the New York Knicks, Eric Bledsoe of the Los Angeles Clippers, and last year’s winner Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz.

Ross and Evans advanced to the final round where Ross was able to win the contest by performing a between the legs dunk while jumping over a young man. Ross’ dunk was voted on by fans watching the contest at home and gave him a unanimous victory over the previous champion Jeremy Evans.

Sunday’s All-Star game was a series of highlight dunks, defensive plays, and all around jaw dropping offensive sequences from this season’s top NBA stars. The West managed to win the game 143-138 as Chris Paul was selected as MVP scoring 20 points and adding 15 assists. Paul is the first player from the Los Angeles Clippers to receive MVP honors at an All-Star game.

Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder scored 30 points for the West and Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat added 21 points for the East. Arguably the top defensive plays of Sunday evening came from Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers as he blocked two jump shots attempted by last season’s MVP LeBron James.

Although very little defense was played over the course of 48 minutes, fans were able to see the NBA’s best players compete and represent their respective teams and conferences on one of the biggest stages in all of basketball.