NBA all-star weekend

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Kevin C. Cox | Getty Images

Kyle McKee

The 2021 National Basketball Association All-Star Weekend was unlike any other in recent basketball history.

Instead of all the events happening over the course of a weekend, with the Rising Stars

Challenge, a game where first and second players play on competing teams, and the Celebrity Game being played on a Friday, followed by all the Skills Challenge, from the Dunk Contest to the Three-Point Contest on Saturday night and ending the weekend Sunday night with the All-Star Game itself, this year everything happened on one day, with exception to the Rising Stars Challenge and the Celebrity Game, which were scrapped this year.

The festivities began in Atlanta with the Skills competition, where six players competed in an obstacle course focused around shooting, dribbling and passing. Rather than competing all at once, two players faced off against each other in separate rounds. The fastest ones to complete it advanced to the next round, and the losers were eliminated until two players remained.

This year, Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis eased his way to the championship where he faced off against fellow big man center Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic. Sabonis edged out Vucevic in the end, winning the Skills competition by sinking the last shot before the opposing “Vucci Mane.”

Following the Skills Challenge was the Three-Point Contest, where some of the league’s top marksmen squared off against each other in a race against the clock to make as many three-pointers as they could.

In this contest, there are five racks that contain five basketballs each, with the last ball being a “money ball.” A money ball is worth two points whereas a regular ball is worth one point. Between the three racks at the top of the key, are two Mountain Dew balls located in “Mountain Dew Zone,” the furthest balls from the basket that were worth three points. Lastly, each player was given one full rack of money balls to place at any position in the contest. The more shots made, or rather points scored, the higher a player ranks.

This year, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors ended up winning in a thrilling final round against Mike Conley of the Utah Jazz.

Conley put up a hard-to-beat 27 points, which led most fans to believe that he’d all but claimed the trophy, but then came Steph Curry who bested Conley by one point. Curry sank the last shot, a money ball, to bring his score up from 26 to 28.

Curry became the seventh player in NBA history to win multiple three point contests and the only active player to have multiple three point contest championship trophies, according to ESPN.

Next came the All-Star Game. Team LeBron James dominated the entire game. Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t miss a shot, Steph and Damian Lillard were making jumpers from half court and Chris Paul caught an alley.

During halftime of the All-Star game is when the dunk contest took place. This year’s competition featured three young, high-flyers: Cassius Stanley of the Indiana Pacers, Obi Toppin of the New York Knicks and Anfernee Simons of the Portland Trailblazers.

What usually turns out to be the most exciting event of the entire weekend ended up being not that eventful. Stanley and Toppin had some decent dunks, but nobody had any jaw-dropping slams like Vince Carter back in 2000 or Jason Richardson in 2003. Somehow, Anfernee Simmons ended up taking home the trophy in a pretty disappointing dunk contest.

Once that ended, the second half of the All-Star Game began, which continued to be complete domination by Team LeBron. Team Kevin Durant just could not keep up with King James’ squad.

Giannis ended up winning the most valuable player award for the game, shooting 16 of 16 from the field. He didn’t miss a single shot, but, for the most part, all of his attempts were dunks, which are pretty hard to miss.

Despite the backlash by some players and media members covering the NBA even having an all-star weekend, the whole event was a success that left everyone smiling ear to ear, despite the lackluster dunk contest.