The 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago was among the most memorable in recent league history. Saturday night’s events were something else.
The game itself the following night did not disappoint in any way. While the early going lacked defense and intensity, the end of the game was absolutely crazy.
As the teams continued to trade shots, it became apparent that this would end up being the greatest All-Star Game in sports history. Maybe a way to pay homage to one Kobe Bryant.
Team LeBron came out on top over Team Giannis by the score of 157-155. It was something else.
Here are the biggest winners from what was a dramatic exhibition game in Chicago Sunday night.
Winner: Magic Johnson, Common and Jennifer Hudson
We knew that the pre-game festivities inside Chicago’s United Center Sunday evening were going to be Kobe-centric. The backstory to this year’s All-Star Game was the tragic passing of Kobe, his daughter and seven others three weeks ago to the day in a helicopter accident in Southern California.
Not a dry eye was left in the building after Magic Johnson paid tribute to both Kobe and former NBA Commissioner David Stern, the latter of whom he credits with helping him overcome his HIV diagnosis more than a quarter-century ago.
From there, Jennifer Hudson performed an absolutely beautiful solo with Kobe and his late daughter, Gianna, featured in the backdrop. The “American Idol” finalist and Academy Award winner put her heart and soul into the performance. Having dealt with personal tragedy in her life, this hit home for the Chicago native. If that wasn’t enough, Common went up on stage and provided an amazing oral history of Chicago basketball. Just some great stuff right here.
Loser: Chaka Khan
We hate to call out this Chicago native for her National Anthem performance Sunday evening. Unfortunately, it was disastrous from the get-go. More often than not, it seemed like Khan was screaming at the top of her lungs rather than actually singing.
It was a cringe-worthy performance, as evidenced by the reaction on social media. Heck, NBA players listening to the rendition were also thrown for a loop. This really did remind us of Fergie’s anthem performance back in 2018. In fact, many concluded that the former “Black Eyed Peas” vocalist was better. Ouch!
Winner: Kawhi Leonard
The reigning NBA Finals MVP meant business early and often Sunday night. It’s not a surprise that Leonard put on his game face while the rest of the players were pretending like this was a pick-up game early on. Kawhi hit seven three-pointers in the first half alone.
When all was said and done, Leonard scored 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting in a dominant offensive performance. It was enough to keep Team LeBron afloat until a crazy fourth quarter of action.
Loser: Luka Doncic
This super sophomore made sweet music with Ben Simmons early in the game. It’s the type of play we’ve become accustomed to from the NBA MVP candidate.
Unfortunately, the rest of his first All-Star Game did not go too swimmingly for Doncic. The youngster scored eight points on 3-of-6 shooting. In a wide-open game of this ilk, we’d expect this wizard to fill up the box score. That will come in due time. It just did not happen on Sunday.
Winner: Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Greek Freak translates pretty darn well to an open-court environment. Based solely on his athleticism, Giannis was going to put up numbers in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game. However, we did not anticipate his squad keeping it close against Team LeBron after a lackluster performance in the first quarter. That’s especially true after he was dragged during the All-Star Draft.
Individually, Antetokounmpo scored 25 points on 12-of-21 shooting while grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out four assists. Even in an exhibition game, he’s proving himself to be a cut above the rest.
Loser: James Harden
Taking part in his eighth consecutive All-Star Game, we’re surprised that Harden has never come away with the MVP. This format seems to benefit a player of his ilk. Sadly, that did not come to fruition Sunday evening.
Harden scored 11 points on 3-of-9 shooting and was on the receiving end of a disrespectful nutmeg from Atlanta Hawks star guard Trae Young. This obviously wasn’t Harden at his best.
Winner: Fourth quarter effort
This had to be the single most competitive All-Star Game environment we’ve seen in some time. After some major issues on defense in the opening stanza and throughout the remainder of the first half, things picked up big time in the second half. Maybe the new scoring format paying homage to Kobe played a role in this.
After the third quarter was complete, the “target” score for each team was 157. Team Giannis held a nine-point lead at that time. Effort picked up. The game was ultimately tied at 152 in a fourth quarter that wasn’t timed.
When all ways said and done, the end of the game was about as crazy as it gets. Multiple offensive fouls. Some elite-level defense. Drama. A coach’s challenge. Everything you could ask for. An NBA Finals environment. This new format was something else. The intensity was also yet another way for the game’s best players to honor Kobe. What an amazing job the Association did in Chicago Sunday night and throughout the weekend.
Former president Barack Obama made a surprise appearance at an All-Star NBA Cares event Friday morning and had some cool moments with young stars Zion Williamson, Trae Young and Luka Doncic.
The young superstars were greeting fans at the event when Obama showed up. The former president took the time to individually greet each of them and give them words of encouragement.
Here’s video of Obama greeting Young and Williamson.
A bit later, he went over to Doncic and others.
That’s a ton of star power located in one spot, but there aren’t many who can draw a crowd like Obama. It’s not every day that you get to hang with a former president. Clearly, these young players were more than excited about their opportunity.
We have missed Dallas Mavericks sophomore guard Luka Doncic over the past two weeks.
The stud youngster missed each of the past seven games with an ankle injury before returning to action Wednesday night against the Sacramento Kings.
Doncic did not waste any time making a highlight-reel play. Check out the All-Star use and abuse Kings guard Cory Joseph en route to hitting a circus shot and drawing the foul.
Joseph literally wrapped up up Doncic’s left arm. What did the MVP candidate do to respond? Hit a one-handed shot while drawing the foul.
It seems like Doncic making crazy shots of this ilk has been a common theme throughout his young career. A rather long hiatus has not changed that.
The Dallas Mavericks are going to get star guard Luka Doncic back for Wednesday night’s outing against he Sacramento Kings after he missed the past seven outings with a sprained ankle.
The team made this announcement a bit before tipoff in Dallas Wednesday evening.
In the midst of what would otherwise be an MVP-caliber season, Doncic’s ankle issues have cost him a combined 11 games.
The sophomore is averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists on the season. Currently boasting a 32-22 record heading into the All-Star Break, Dallas is 5-6 in the games Doncic has not played.
New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson was the most hyped prospect coming into the NBA since LeBron James. On Tuesday night, Zion’s name was mentioned once more with LeBron following a dominant performance against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Of course, Zion did more than just throw down incredible alley-oop slams against the Trail Blazers. Portland never had an answer for the 6-foot-6 forward’s unmatched athleticism and strength. The rookie went off inside the paint, made frequent trips to the free-throw line and joined NBA history.
Zion’s unbelievable performance now puts him in an exclusive club with LeBron, Kevin Durant and Luka Doncic. While we’ve seen some ridiculous rookie seasons in recent years, Zion’s play as of late and at this age is remarkable. He’s practically unstoppable on the court and he’s still just starting to get his feel for the NBA. He’s providing plenty of highlights this season, too.
The 31-point, nine-rebound and five-assist masterpiece wasn’t his only historic mark on the night either. Zion became the third player with seven 20-plus point games in his first 10 career NBA appearances in the last 30 seasons. The only other two to accomplish it, NBA legends Grant Hill and Shaquille O’Neal.
Zion is just getting started with the NBA career and we’re likely only getting a taste of what’s to come. If he keeps this up, though, hitting historic marks will become as routine for him as jaw-dropping dunks,
The Dallas Mavericks have been cautiously hoping star Luka Doncic could return to the court before the All-Star Break. Now, after missing six games with a right ankle sprain, Doncic is expected to return for Wednesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters on Tuesday that Doncic is making progress in his return and the team will upgrade Doncic’s status to questionable or probable for Wednesday’s game.
Doncic suffered the injury during practice on Jan. 30 and has missed the team’s last seven games. During that stretch, the Mavericks have gone 3-4 and the star’s absence has been felt significantly.
While the Mavericks could play it safe and rest their All-Star guard on Wednesday, allowing him to rest until their next game on Feb. 21, Doncic does likely appear set to play in his All-Star Game.
The 20-year-old was playing at an MVP-caliber level before suffering the injury. Doncic is averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game this season.
The Dallas Mavericks may be getting star Luka Doncic back even sooner than expected. Head coach Rick Carlisle said on Friday that he could come back before the All-Star break.
Per Mike Peasley of ESPN, Carlisle said “there is hope” that Doncic will be back before then and noted the second-year star is “progressing well.”
Doncic suffered an ankle injury during practice just over a week ago, and at the time of the injury the Mavericks were hopeful the injury would be manageable and that he’d return soon. An MRI determined it was a “moderate sprain,” so he escaped any major damage.
Prior to injuring his ankle, Doncic was having a phenomenal season for Dallas, averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists.
Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic suffered an ankle sprain in practice on Friday that had the team holding its breath. Fortunately, Doncic has reportedly escaped a severe injury after being diagnosed with a moderate ankle sprain.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, an MRI on Doncic’s ankle revealed the good news on Friday morning and the team believes the injury is manageable.
It’s a similar injury to the sprain he suffered earlier this season. In that instance, Doncic missed four games and the team played it safe with their young superstar. The Mavericks will likely take a cautious approach once again with the latest injury.
Recently named as a starter in the All-Star Game, Doncic was playing at an MVP level before his injury. He is averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game this season and leads the league with 12 triple-doubles.
The Dallas Mavericks received a bit of a scare during practice on Thursday. According to head coach Rick Carlisle, star sophomore and MVP candidate Luka Doncic turned his ankle during the session.
Carlisle went on to note that Doncic’s status for Friday’s game against the division-rival Houston Rockets is up in the air.
We’re sure that the 20-year-old guard will get further tests before he’s allowed back on the court. Doncic is just too important to the Mavericks’ success for them to be without him for too long.
Doncic missed four games earlier this season with a similar ankle injury.
A legit MVP candidate this season, Doncic is averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists for a Mavs team that heads into the weekend’s action with a 29-18 record.
Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic honored not only Kobe Bryant, but all nine victims of the helicopter crash that took the life of the NBA legend and his daughter on Sunday.
Doncic showed up to Monday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder wearing Kobe’s shoes with “RIP” in front of the names of all nine victims.
Kobe, of course, was lost in the crash, along with his daughter Gianna, and seven others: Alyssa Altobelli, John Altobelli Rest, Kerry Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, and Ara Zobayan.
May they all rest in peace.