NBA All-stars wrap up

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Keith Allison via Wikimedia Think fast!

This year’s event was a slam dunk

by amir said, contributor

After much hype and build-up, the 2022 NBA All-star game was played on February 20 in Cleveland, Ohio. This was the 71st edition of the event and a commemoration of the National Basketball Association’s 75th anniversary. The prelude to the game was filled with anticipation and drama around issues, like the James Harden trade and Kevin Durant’s injury status. With a historic spot in the NBA timeline and an entertaining prelude, the game made up for the excitement of fans by undoubtedly being one for the books. 

To catch up on the highlights of the game, I would recommend reading my previous two articles on the subject; this one is the conclusion of my 2022 NBA All-star game article trilogy, and the significance of the event is infinitely more impactful with an understanding of the lead-up. 

As a quick recap, the eastern and western conference teams were respectively captained by Brooklyn Nets small forward and twelve-time all-star Kevin Durant, who was unable to play due to injury, and Los Angeles Lakers small forward and eighteen-time all-star LeBron James. Teams Durant and LeBron had the following rosters: 

Durant starters: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers; Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies; Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics; Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors; Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks.

Durant reserves: LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets; Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns; Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz; Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls; Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks; Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs; Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves; Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors.

LeBron starters: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks; Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors; DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls; Nikola Jokić, Denver Nuggets.

Lebron reserves: Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat; Luka Dončić, Dallas Mavericks; Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers; James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers; Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz; Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns; Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors.

As a diehard Raptors fan, seeing Fred VanVleet on the court for his first All-star appearance was incredibly exciting; with 21.6 points per game and an overall outstanding performance both as part of the Raptors and as an NBA player this season, his selection was well deserved – he certainly earned it. While he only played for nine minutes as a reserve, he excelled on the court and showcased the skill that earned him a spot on the team: he earned six points, two rebounds, and three assists, which, as a first-time All-Star from an under-represented team sharing the court with NBA superstars like Luca Dončić, Jimmy Butler, and LaMelo Ball for just nine minutes of playtime, is no small feat and deserves recognition. 

The game’s highlight, without a doubt, was Stephen Curry. With a hard-earned reputation as the NBA’s best three-point shooter, he showed everybody that after a relatively recent dip in his performance this season, he was still on top. He earned a whopping 50 points for Team LeBron. On top of that, he broke five All-star records: most points in a single quarter with 21, most 3-point goals made both in a game and in a half with 16 and 8 respectively, and most 3-point shots attempted both in a game and in a half with 27 and 16 respectively. It’s no surprise that he earned the coveted MVP title for the game. Under the leadership of LeBron James, who had won the award three times prior, it’s no surprise that Team LeBron handily defeated Team Durant with a final score of 163-160. It was a close game, with 10 seconds left on the buzzer when LeBron made the game-winning fadeaway shot. 

Both teams played admirably and the event raised considerable funds for charity: Team Durant earned $300,000 for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Team LeBron earned $450,000 for The Kent State University I Promise Scholars Program, and Stephen Curry personally vowed to donate a grand total of $108,000 to Metro Cleveland Public Schools based on his game performance. 

With the event giving fans a historic game while showcasing the talent of some of the best basketball players of all time and raising both funds and awareness for important causes, it’s safe to say that the 2022 All-star game was a resounding success. This contributor (and millions of fellow NBA fans) can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year’s game. Hopefully we’ll get more Raptors representation!

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