Recap of the 2023 NBA All-Star Weekend
Assistant Sports Editor
The NBA celebrated their 72nd annual All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah. The festivities kicked off on Saturday night with the 3-Point Contest and dunk contest. The night after was the All-Star game, where a new tradition began.
The 3-Point Contest consisted of Jayson Tatum, Julius Randle, Damian Lillard, Kevin Huerter, Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton, Lauri Markkanen and Tyler Herro. This year marked the first time where they introduced shots from the “Starry” range. This new addition is a set of three balls beyond the three point line that gives you three points instead of the traditional one, and two you would get from knocking down the money balls.
Haliburton would go on to have a terrific first appearance in the contest. He tied a 3-Point Contest record in the first round with 31 points, which secured his spot in the finals as he awaited to see his opponents. Hield, a former winner of the contest, would also secure his spot in the finals against his teammate Haliburton.
There was one more spot that had to be filled and it would be filled by none other than Lillard. Lillard would go on to win the entire contest with a final score of 26 points. His last two moneyball shots he made pushed him over Hield’s score of 23 and gave him the victory. In his third appearance in the contest he finally went home with some hardware. After an exciting battle, the dunk contest would come next.
The dunk contest has lacked a feel ever since Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon battled it out in what some consider the greatest dunk contest of all time. This year however was different, all of the participants wanted to do the contest and came prepared which made this event ten times better. Mac McClung, Trey Murphy III, Jericho Sims and Kenyon “KJ” Martin Jr. rounded out this year's participants.
McClung would make history as he was the first person from the G-League to ever appear in the dunk contest, and he didn’t stop there. McClung would gain a perfect score of 50 from both of his first round dunks, which solidified his spot in the finals. He would also become the only participant to make all of his dunks on his first try despite the difficulty of them.
McClung would meet Murphy in the finals where he would again blow away his competition. McClung was on pace to be the only dunker to ever score a perfect score on all four dunks. This was until his first dunk in the final round, where Lisa Leslie would give him a score of 49, dropping his total to a 49.8 for that round.
McClung took that to heart and wanted vengeance. His final dunk would again be rated a 50, and he walked away with the dunk contest trophy. If this contest is a preview for the rest to come, then the dunk contest is back and all the thanks go to McClung. Next up was the 2023 All-Star game.
Five years ago, the NBA decided to ditch the East vs West tradition of this game and went with captains who would then pick their teams. The captains would pick their teams about a week before the game, but this year was different. They drafted their teams right before the game started and it added a fresh new feel.
LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo were named captains and once again had to become general managers. The drafting before the game made it feel more like a pickup game, and that’s exactly what it was. There was zero defense played at all during this game and to most it was entertaining, but it lacked the competitive feel that each game had in the past.
The NBA have tried to make the All-Star game competitive again, but they failed once more despite the rule changes over the years. 184-175 was the final score of the game with Team Giannis snapping Team LeBrons undefeated streak as a captain.
Jayson Tatum would go on to win the NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP, becoming the first Boston Celtic to win the award since Larry Bird. He would break the record for most points ever scored in an All-Star game with 55. Tatum was unstoppable.
The lack of defense helped many players score, and the players had fun, but this game needs to become more competitive in order for an actual “game” to take place.