The NBA world takes a break today, somewhat, for its annual celebration of excellence (and frivolity) known as the All-Star Weekend. Last season, as you’ll recall, this spectacle was held in Toronto. Not so this year, as we take in the sights and sounds of the best of the NBA in New Orleans.
The weekend follows the usual pattern of events. Here are the highlights:
Friday, February 17, 2017
7 p.m. | NBA All-Star Celebrity Game | ESPN
The weirdest event out there just keeps on trucking as the NBA finds time and space for names as disparate as Oscar Schmidt, Tom Cavanagh, and Fat Joe to be involved in a basketball game. It’s for fun. Also, Kyle Lowry will be on hand as an assistant coach — a truly arduous task (he’ll presumably be there to keep Win Butler in line).
9 p.m. | BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge | TNT
The future of the league is in good hands if you’re studying the roster of this event. No Raptors are involved (sad face) but it’ll be fun to see dudes like Karl-Anthony Towns run at Canadian Jamal Murray. It’s always good for a high-flying (and sometimes tense!) time.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
8 p.m. | State Farm All-Star Saturday Night | TNT
- Taco Bell Skills Challenge (first event)
- JBL Three-Point Contest (second event)
- Verizon Slam Dunk (third event)
Easily the most fun night of the weekend, All-Star Saturday night is pure celebration. It’s also the night with the highest competitive spirit. It means something to win the Three-Point Contest — in which Lowry will compete — or defend the Slam Dunk Title. (Sadly, due to Zach LaVine’s injury, we won’t get a chance to see Gordon vs. LaVine II.)
Sunday, February 18, 2017
8 p.m. | 66th NBA All-Star Game | TNT
The main event — which is often times fairly tedious — has once again two Raptors in it. But just to switch things up, this time DeMar DeRozan will start for the Eastern Conference All-Stars, while Lowry will come off the bench. Sadly, due to the Raptors second half swoon, coach Dwane Casey won’t get a chance to yell things from the sidelines. Brad Stevens, of the hated Celtics, will be bench boss instead.
Anyway, enjoy the game, the weekend, or just the break. Regular basketball resumes on February 23rd, and the Raptors return on the 24th.