The NBA's All-Star weekend officially begins tonight in Toronto, marking the firs time the festivities have taken place outside of the United States. As such, here is a rundown and preview for all the scheduled events. All times are in accordance with the central time zone, because down with East Coast bias.
When: Friday, February 12, 6 p.m.
Notable Names: actor Kevin Hart (coach), rapper and Toronto native Drake (coach), Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, Drew and Johnathan Scott (a.k.a HGTV's The Property Brothers), former NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady, WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne, actor Jason Sudeikis, former NBA player and person who had their powers stolen from them on Space Jam Muggsy Bogues
I've never been too enthralled by the celebrity games of yesteryear, mostly because it is just a bunch of really rich people playing a non-competitive game of pick up. However, this year is different. This year, I must watch the game. There are too many questions floating around in my head and I want, no I need, answers. Do Drew and Johnathan count as one player? Will Jose Bautista reenact his world-exploding bat flip every time he hits a three-pointer? Who can do more burpees: Elena Delle Donne or Kevin Hart? I noticed Justin Bieber isn't playing; maybe it is too late to say sorry? Too many questions, not enough answers. I guess I better break the news to my girlfriend that our Valentine's date needs to be rescheduled. I bet she'll understand.
Rising Stars Challenge:
When: Friday, February 19, 8 p.m.
United States Roster: Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, Zach LaVine, Devin Booker, Jahlil Okafor, Jabari Parker, Elfrid Payton, D'Angelo Russell, Marcus Smart, Karl-Anthony Towns
World Roster: Bojan Bogdanovic, Clint Capela, Mario Hezonja, Nikola Jokic, Trey Lyles, Emmanuel Mudiay, Raul Neto, Kristaps Porzingis, Dwight Powell, Andrew Wiggins
Wolves' fans will want to tune into this game if only to see Andrew Wiggins face off against teammates Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns. Chances are that they won't really be going up against each other as I don't see either LaVine or Towns guarding or being guarded by Wiggins (and, truthfully, it doesn't really matter), but it will be a fun spectacle nonetheless. This game will feature a lot of young, up-and-coming talent on both sides, but I give the edge to the U.S. team, for a couple reasons. 1. I'm biased and 2. that U.S. front court is devastating. They could easily start the game with Towns and Okafor and torch the World team on the offensive end of the court. Or they could start Towns and Parker and let them run a nice alternating high-low game. Or they could start Okafor and Parker and bring Towns off the bench to destroy the World team's second unit....there is no end to the U.S. team's options. The U.S. team probably contains more overall talent as well, especially on defense.
The match up I'm most looking forward too (in a game that means literally less than nothing) is Towns v. Porzingis, for obvious reasons. This should be a fun one.
NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified® Game
When: Saturday, February 13, 1 p.m.
This event isn't on television, but that does not take away how important or cool it is. This is an event in which 12 special Olympians from around the world get to play in a game of basketball against former and current NBA and WNBA players such as Tracy McGrady, Tamika Catchings, Elena Delle Donne, and Bruce Bowen, just to name a few. The Wolves' Karl-Anthony Towns was selected as an honorary coach and I can't think of a better person to represent Minnesota or the NBA in such a meaningful event.
Skills Challenge, Three-Point Contest, and Dunk Contest
When: Saturday, February 13, 7 p.m.
Skills Challenge Participants: Emmanuel Mudiay, DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green, Anthony Davis, C.J. McCollum, Karl-Anthony Towns, Isaiah Thomas, Jordan Clarkson
Talk about an interesting player pool. Traditionally, the skills challenge has only allowed for guards to partake since it's conception in 2003, but this year WE FINALLY GET BIG GUYS. And not just any big guys, but arguably the most talented, athletic big guys in the NBA to boot. Of all of the bigs, Draymond Green is the most likely to give the little guys all they can handle, but don't sleep on any of the other three. If I were a betting man, I'd put money down on either Green or Isaiah Thomas, but, like, Patrick Beverly won it last year, so really this is anyone's game.
Three-Point Contest Participants: Stephen Curry, James Harden, Klay Thompson, Khris Middleton, Kyle Lowry, J.J. Redick, Chris Bosh, Devin Booker
Now, I know what you're thinking. "Man, there's now way Steph Curry doesn't win this thing." And I get it. He's the best shooter in league history and he loves the limelight. *Extremely Michael Smith 30-for-30 voice* But what if I told you, not all three-point contests are won by the most obvious choice. Let's start with the fact that Curry won it last year and, you know, he's the best shooter the world has ever seen. What does he have to prove? Nothing. He's knows he could win this thing easily if he tried, but what is his motivation to try? And there's that fact that every other contestant has something to prove or some other motivating factor. James Harden? He wants to prove that he should've won the MVP last year. Klay Thompson? He wants to prove he's the better shooting Splash Bro. Khris Middleton? He wants more casual fans to know his name. Kyle Lowry? He has to show out to his home fans. J.J. Redick? He needs to make up for his performance last year, in which his foot was on the three-point line more often than it wasn't. Chris Bosh? He wants to win one for the all the big men out there! Devin Booker? He wants to prove he can perform with the big guys.
Oh, who am I kidding. There's no way Curry doesn't win this thing. But, you heard it here first, don't sleep on Middleton or Booker.
Dunk Contest Participants: Zach LaVine, Aaron Gordon, Will Barton, Andre Drummond
This is the event that everyone has been waiting for: The Zach LaVine Show. LaVine will win this thing going away, but everyone will be waiting with baited breath to see what the young jumpman pulls out of his sleeve. Will he whip out the mythical free-throw-line-windmill-dunk? Who will give LaVine the biggest challenge? Will LaVine's dunk routine bring forth the inevitable the heat death of the universe? Only time will tell.watch.0.html
The All Star Game
When: Sunday, February 14, 7:30 p.m.
The NBA All Star weekend will wrap up with, well, the actual game on Sunday night. All Star games don't really get my juices flowing, but this one may be of interest to watch only because it will be Kobe Bryant's final appearance of his historic career. The Wolves don't have any horses in this race, but I may tune in for a little bit and do some writing or something. Also, Sting is performing at halftime and I can't wait to see what happens. I do enjoy The Police, but I wouldn't be shocked if most the younger players and audience 1. have no idea who he is or 2. have a few "Oh, he sings this song?!" moments throughout his performance. If All Star games aren't your thing, I'm sure there will be a Property Brothers marathon going on on HGTV or something.
You can find the All Star teams' rosters here.