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Culture Watch: All-Star Weekend for some, vacation for others

The NBA is just coming out of vacation mode, so let’s take a look back at what the Raptors got up to for All-Star Weekend.

2018 Taco Bell Skills Challenge Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Serge Ibaka wasted no time, becoming the first Raptor to arrive in Los Angeles despite not participating in any All-Star events. According to his Snapchat, he arrived around 3:00 am, and immediately began living his mafuzzy life, avec classe.

Kyle Lowry was next to arrive, but not to get in some extra practice for the All-Star game or the Three Point Competition, as anyone who knows of Kyle’s competitive nature would expect. Instead, Kyle headed to California to attend the Genesis Open, and he totally looked the part.

DeMar “Never on Vacation” DeRozan spent Thursday night signing autographs and offering advice to students and fans at his Alma Mater, the University of Southern California, and sit courtside to watch his USC Trojans take on the Oregon Ducks in the company of his two daughters.

Dwane Casey and the rest of the Toronto Raptors coaching crew were the next to head West, in preparation for coaching team LeBron during Sunday’s All Star Game. Dwane Casey and his wife, Brenda were accompanied by their two children, Justine and Zachary. Rex Kalamian and Nick Nurse boarded the plane with their respective spouses, while the Big Cat and Patrick Mutombo flew solo, and Jama Mahlalela carried the cutest baby that has ever existed, his daughter, Mia.

All-Star getaway.

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Lucas Nogueira flew towards the sunshine as well, flying to South Florida to spend time with his toddler daughter, Stella. In a since deleted Instagram story, it appears that Bebe has also purchased an offseason home in Boca Raton, Florida to be closer to his family.

New dads Fred VanVleet and C.J. Miles were two Raptors to stay at home in Toronto to spend time with their new daughters, with C.J. opting instead to send his wife, Lauren, on a much-deserved vacation to Turks and Caicos.

On the first night of her vacation, Mrs. Miles bumped into none other than Jonas Valanciunas, and his drop-dead gorgeous wife, Egle proving that it really is a small world after all. Or that the Raptors connection really is that deep.

Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl took a top secret vacation to what ended up being Mexico. And in typical Yak and Skills fashion, it appears they had more fun than anyone else.

Friday was a day of giving back to the community with NBA Cares, and the Raptors All-Stars and coaching staff were front and centre, helping to build a playground for Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Compton.

The Raptors coaching staff would later that night coach Team World to victory in the Rising Skills game.

Kyle Lowry participated in the Three Point contest again this year, and was cheered on by his teammates, Serge Ibaka and DeMar DeRozan… kind of. Judging by their reactions, neither Serge nor DeMar were too impressed with Kyle’s 11 point performance.

Prior to Saturday evening’s events, Ibaka joined Raptors President, Masai Ujiri, former Raptor Bismack Biyombo, Dikembe Mutombo, Festus Ezeli, and many more influential members of the NBA Africa family for the NBA Africa All Star Luncheon.

Ibaka was also able to catch up with former team mate Russell Westbrook during the Saturday competitions.

Meanwhile, DeRozan spent Saturday afternoon playing NBA 2K18 against Team Steph teammate Damian Lillard at the Spalding Backcourt Space.

Sunday’s grand finale was about more than just victory (which Dwane Casey coached Team LeBron to). It was about family. Both Kyle and DeMar’s children were able to watch their dads in action once again during the All Star game. Kyle’s mother, Marie and DeMar’s parents, Diane and Frank were also able to cheer on their sons, just as they have since the boys learned to dribble a ball.

This time however, the stage was a bit bigger. And for two of the most competitive players in the league, the stakes were just as high.