NBA All-Star weekend is back in a big way

Matt Rubel, Assistant Sports Editor

NBA all-star weekend is back in a major way; with the revival of the slam-dunk contest it was the best All-Star weekend in over a decade.

Friday, Feb. 13 kicked off with the celebrity game, a showcase of movie stars, kids and guys who never could make it in the NBA. That aside the game kept me entertained. Kevin Hart finally picked on someone his own size when 13-year-old, 5-foot 4-inch Mo’ne Davis came to play.

Although Davis had some amazing plays Hart had the last laugh, winning MVP for the fourth straight year.

Following the celebrity game was the Rising Stars Challenge. Although it lacked highlights, the No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins showed why he is the next big thing in the NBA, winning MVP.

The following day was the difference maker of the weekend; Saturday was the day the NBA proved all-star weekend had returned to glory.

The day started with the Shooting Stars Contest. The contest requires a half-court shot to finish your team’s time; this is where the contest is usually won or lost. Team Bosh has clearly figured this out; hitting it again this year gave team Bosh the win for the third year in a row.

Following that was an event that was either one of the most pathetic or inspiring things to watch depending on how you look at it. Patrick Beverly won the Skills Challenge, after trailing by a full court, twice. Jeff Teague blew it against Beverly by struggling with the final 3-pointer. In the final Brandon Knight did the same thing as Teague, handing Beverly the win.

After the Skills Challenge my hope was up, it could have gone either way. The 3-point shootout had one of the deepest rosters:Kyle Korver, who is shooting lights out this year; Kyrie Irving, who would be competitive in a sleeping contest, and the splash brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

Before spoiling the results, first I’d like to express my extreme dislike for the money-ball rack, this has become a ploy to get higher scores, purely for ratings. The max should be 30 points as it was when the shootout was created.

Watching Irving, Thompson and Curry make it rain was a definite highlight of the night. After the downpour stopped Curry proved why he is the best shooter in the NBA. At one point he hit 13 in a row giving him the victory.

The last event Saturday night was the Slam Dunk Contest; I grew up watching guys like Jordan, Dominique, Vince Carter and J-Rich, emulating their dunks on 8- foot hoops. However, the last ten years or so have been a real disappointment; some good dunks here and there, just poor overall competition.

Much of it could be blamed on the NBA trying a lot of different formats like the dunk wheel or teams but this year was a classic-style contest– the best kind.

The performance by Zack LaVine and Victor Oladipo was out of this world, they set themselves apart in the first round, each scoring a perfect 50. Although Oladipo’s first 360 dunk was incredible; after that LaVine stole the show.

LaVine put on the best dunk performance since Jason Richardson, and maybe even since Carter. That is a high complement, but warranted because LaVine brought down the house with a quartet of rim rattling mayhem, earning him the win and crowned this year’s slam supreme.

The actual All-Star Game became a bit of a basketball hangover after the high flying, long-range flurry of fun Saturday night. Especially since you have a better chance of finding defense in a game of checkers.

For a game that is more like a shoot around with another team present, it actually was exciting, thanks in large part to LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. James was good as usual, but Westbrook scored 41 and came only one point shy of tying Wilt Chamberlin’s All-Star record of 42.

Poor defense really helped facilitate Westbrook’s big night and helped his west squad take home the 2015 All-Star Game title, 163-158, putting an exclamation point to the ultimate All-Star weekend.