2014 All-Star Recap: New Orleans
Just 6 years after a spectacular All Star Break in 08’, All-Star Weekend revisits the State of New Orleans, with a barrage of eye opening events. As usual, things capped off with the Rising Stars Challenge; where the top rookies and second year men face off. This event marks their transition out of the collegiate level, with hopes to emerge as stars of our league; this year seeming to be yet another great display of talent. Pistons F Andre Drummond leaded the way for Team Hill, displaying a monster performance on the glass, picking up 25 boards, with a collecting 30 point outing. Drummond delivered in the win, earning MVP Honors. Moreover, the dual between Cavaliers G Dion Waiters and Knicks rookie G Tim Hardaway Jr was definitely an exciting one. Hardaway Jr. dropped 3 after 3, finishing with a much impressive 36 points for team Webber, leading all scorers.
Following the event, it was time for the Taco Bell Skills Challenge; which is not generally a primary focus, more so an appreciation for today’s point guards of our league. This turned out to be Blazers G Damian Lillard’s only victory from the weekend (Partnering with Jazz G Trey Burke), while being the first player to take part in all events during All-Star Weekend.
It was now time for the 3-point contest with the games’ best from deep. Due to the differential between in game and stand still shooting, this contest is probably the most unpredictable, nevertheless entertaining. Steph Curry was big favorite to win the competition, unfortunately coming up short in a first round exit. It became a shootout between Wizards G Bradly Beal and Spurs F Marco Belinelli, which probably doesn’t sound like the greatest match-up. Surprisingly, the final round was rather interesting, being Belinelli coming out on top and being crowned 3-point Champ.
Moving on to the legendary Dunk Contest, where over the past few years has been mediocre at best; which is why this year they decided to switch things around a bit. Instead of individual performances, the contestants were on teams, being East vs West. Paul George, Ben Mclemore, Damian Lillard, John Wall, Terrance Ross, and Harrison Barnes took the stage. The initial look upon this new system was rather entertaining and very eye opening. After members of the team were eliminated one by one, Wizards G John Wall, in his first All-Star appearance, stole the show after delivering a jaunting double pump reverse dunk over the Wizards mascot; a dunk that truly was never done before and sealed the deal winning for his East. He was the Dunker of the Night. Although fans did feel like it was then where the members of the team should face off, but to no avail. This years’ contest was definitely worth watching. It was an introduction to a style that can greatly be improved on as the Dunk Contest tries to remain relevant.
Finally, the day of the All-Star Game has arrived. This is usually all fun and games amongst the players but this year would be a little more personal. The West has won the past three matchups against the East All-Stars. Due to the decline in the Eastern Conference this season, this gave the selections an even bigger reason to compete and mark up a win. Before the game, players on the East made it known that they would come out with a sense of pride. Lebron James and Blake Griffin started the things up and got the crowd going with impressive dunks. The two teams went back to back, with not much defense being played; it was mostly isolation and fast paced offense. So fast that the only time you stopped to look at the score is when a time-out was called. Towards the ladder part of the third quarter, the West dominated going up by as much as 18 points. The East would answer. Even though fans were looking for a Durant vs. Lebron dual, it was Carmelo Anthony who shot lights out from 3, earning the record for most 3’s by a player in an All-Star Game at 8. Kyrie Irving stepped up for the East and was crowned MVP, notching up 31 points, 14 assists and 5 rebounds as they come out victorious in comeback fashion. It probably would have been nice if the Award was split between Anthony and Kyrie as Co-Honors; similar to Shaq & Kobe winning the award together in 09’. Nonetheless, even though it wasn’t the prettiest game to watch, it was sure to be a memorable one for the ages.