Sports

NBA All-Star winners and losers: LeBron James stays perfect as captain; Slam Dunk Contest judges fail again


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The 2021 NBA All-Star expertise was as near typical as you might moderately count on, however very like each different sporting occasion that has taken place within the final yr, issues simply felt a bit off.

Instead of a excessive degree of pleasure, a number of gamers expressed apprehension about gathering in Atlanta. The expertise competitions and All-Star Game occurred over the course of some hours as opposed to some days. There have been unbelievable feats of talent and athleticism, however the principle reactions got here within the type of pretend crowd noise. The real “ooohs” and “aaahs” have been sorely missed.

It wasn’t all dangerous, although. TNT’s All-Star broadcast delivered some entertaining moments, and the NBA dedicated tens of millions of {dollars} towards traditionally Black faculties and universities (HBCUs) and COVID-19 reduction. Similar to the common season itself, you would discover transient, great stretches of normalcy — even when the strangeness of actuality inevitably got here speeding again.

Before NBA groups resume play, let’s break down the most important winners and losers from Sunday’s All-Star festivities.

MORE: Best highlights from 2021 All-Star Game

NBA All-Star winners

LeBron James

Four appearances as an All-Star captain, 4 All-Star Game wins. James did such an excellent job setting up the Team LeBron roster that his squad crushed Team Durant even supposing he solely scored 4 factors in lower than 13 minutes of motion. 

“I hope that they allow me to retire from being an All-Star captain, so I can retire with a perfect 4-0 record,” James mentioned throughout his postgame press convention. “I’ll keep that forever. But we’ll just see what happens. I always try to pick the right team, and I’ve been lucky enough for four years to pick the right team. Guys go out and compete and play to win. I’ve been on the winning side of all four.”

James gave shoutouts to his teammates on Twitter after the win, together with All-Star Game MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who instructed James he has a future as a common supervisor. Hard to argue with the outcomes.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Speaking of “The Greek Freak,” how about that stat line? Antetokounmpo completed with 35 factors on 16-of-16 taking pictures, setting the All-Star Game record for many makes with no miss. 


Beyond the numbers, it regarded like Antetokounmpo was having the time of his life.

“You know, like once you start having joy and you don’t worry about the outcome of the game, everything takes care of itself,” Antetokounmpo mentioned. “I believe fear and fun cannot go together. It’s either one or the other. This year I’ve chose for it to be fun. Every game I step on the floor, fun. Pregame, fun. With my teammates, fun. I want to have around my team, fun, energy.”

Be like Giannis. Always select enjoyable over concern.

Mike Conley

Given the Jazz’s file and Conley’s efficiency by the primary half of the season, it felt as although this was his greatest (and maybe closing) shot to lastly earn that elusive All-Star nod. He did not make the minimize initially, however Devin Booker’s harm opened the door for the 33-year-old.

Now we solely introduce him as “NBA ALL-STAR MIKE CONLEY.” Come on. How are you able to not be glad for this man?

Long vary 3-point taking pictures

Stephen Curry, who gained the 3-point Contest earlier within the night time, joined Damian Lillard in placing on an outrageous All-Star Game taking pictures show.

Cue the footage.


Curry and Lillard every went 8 of 16 from past the arc with Lillard draining the 3-pointer that ended the exhibition sport. 

“I think with me and Steph being two guys that shoot a lot of threes, we shoot deep threes, we play an exciting game,” Lillard mentioned. “A couple shots can change the game like in the second quarter of the game tonight, it was close, and then in two and a half minutes it was like three, three, three, three, three, and it was a 20-point win in a quarter.

“It was enjoyable. It was thrilling simply to run round on the market with a man like that, and that is what makes All-Star Weekend All-Star Weekend.”

Nikola Jokic’s goofiness

So we have got Jokic dancing.

We’ve additionally acquired Jokic speaking about not getting an alley-oop cross off the backboard.


And, in fact, we have got Jokic taking Giannis’ trophy and pretending he’s the true MVP.

“The Joker,” certainly. Delightful.

Robert Covington’s HBCU pleasure

Covington, a Tennessee State University graduate, is the NBA’s solely present HBCU alum, so naturally that facet of the All-Star occasions meant a terrific deal to him. He was seen rocking a Tennessee State jersey for the Skills Challenge.

More importantly, Covington introduced he could be giving $25,000 scholarships to Michael Thompson and Micahlea Njie, each of whom are scholar athletes at Tennessee State. 


“I was there before and I never had somebody like this to really make that change and have that opportunity,” Covington mentioned. “This is me using my platform. I love Tennessee State.”

Well achieved, RoCo.

NBA All-Star losers

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons

Embiid and Simmons have been not available for the All-Star Game in accordance with the NBA’s well being and security tips. Both gamers reportedly visited a barber who examined constructive for COVID-19, forcing them to stay remoted of their lodge rooms earlier than touring again to Philadelphia.

As of Sunday night time, it was unclear if Embiid and Simmons will miss a number of video games following the All-Star break.

“They feel great. They both obviously wanted to play,” 76ers and Team Durant coach Doc Rivers mentioned. “We’re disappointed. Both of them, their biggest concern would be if they could play the first two games when we get back. So we don’t know the answer to that yet. That’s going to be really important for us. It would be tough to start the second half of the year and not have either one.”

Luka Doncic

How tough was Doncic’s exhibiting within the Skills Competition? He acquired overwhelmed so badly by Domantas Sabonis that Doncic’s personal Mavericks teammate, Jalen Brunson, publicly referred to as him out.

If you are an All-NBA participant and you do not escape the primary spherical, then the tweets can be fired off. Those are the principles.

Slam Dunk Contest judges

The Slam Dunk Contest scoring system is a multitude.

Last yr, the occasion ended in controversy when Aaron Gordon acquired a 47 for dunking over Celtics Tacko Fall. This time round, Cassius Stanley acquired a 44 for his opener, a between-the-legs jam that appeared superior to the primary makes an attempt of the opposite members.

“I think my dunk was pretty darn good, and the judges thought it was the lowest dunk of the round,” Stanley mentioned. “That is what it is. It’s an opinionated thing. … Pretty much everyone around me thought I got a 50.”

Want to set a excessive bar for a 50? OK, positive. That’s tremendous. But that is not what occurred right here.

Magic Johnson won’t stand for this!

The cloud hanging over all the pieces

At his All-Star press convention on Saturday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver began with a press release explaining why the league moved ahead with its All-Star plans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve sought to find the right balance between the health and safety of our players, the community that’s involved in producing NBA basketball, and of course our fans, along with the economic interests as well of our community,” Silver mentioned. “Add into that social justice issues. So all of that has been on our mind since almost a year ago when we shut down the NBA. … We feel we’ve struck the appropriate balance here, looking out for the interests of everyone involved.”

Silver has a troublesome job. The monetary impression of not holding an All-Star weekend (or night time, on this case) would have been important. The NBA noticed an opportunity to use this stage to advertise causes that matter to its executives, coaches and gamers. Maybe LeBron was bored, however for a first-time All-Star like Conley, this expertise was particular.

Still, it was arduous to not watch the printed with out periodically questioning whether or not any of these things needs to be happening. The Embiid-Simmons state of affairs did not flip right into a superspreader occasion, but it surely might have. Players went alongside for the trip, however quite a lot of them weren’t precisely pumped about it.

The darkish cloud did not damage the entire enjoyable, but it surely did convey the enjoyment issue down a couple of notches. Let’s hope subsequent yr’s All-Star festivities see extra daylight.



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