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NBA: Stars Align In Chicago For the All-Star Weekend

It’s finally that time of the year where the best players in NBA gather around to showcase their skills on the hardwood.

This season’s NBA All-Star Weekend is slated in Chicago where different events such as the Rising Stars Challenge, Slam Dunk Contest, Skills Challenge, Three-Point Shootout, and the All-Star Game are to be held much to the delight of our SBOTOP NBA fans.

At the same time, it’s a much-needed break from all the grueling games especially with its jam-packed schedule. And for sure our TV screens will be filled by numerous NBA 2020 highlights in these next few days.

 

Young stalwarts strut their stuff in the Rising Stars Challenge

The Rising Stars Challenge kicked off the festivities in Chicago where some of the top young talents went face-to-face.

In what was a high-scoring affair, Team USA defeated Team World, 151-131, after a solid third period where they outscored them 44-24.

This game featured several highlight reel plays from our young players. Zion Williamson in particular, used this occasion as his personal playground when he finished one spectacular dunk after another – including a two-handed jam in the second quarter to where the rim got bent.

He continues to be the NBA’s hottest commodity since he made his much-awaited debut. With his mix of youthful energy and physical gifts, the prized rookie for the Pelicans will undoubtedly emerge as a full-fledged superstar in the future.

Team USA Zion Williamson slams two-handed jam during the second quarter of NBA Rising Stars
Team USA forward Zion Williamson dunks the ball against Team World during NBA Rising Stars match

Other young stars such as Trae Young, Ja Morant, Luka Doncic, and RJ Barrett showed out as well. But in the end, it was Miles Bridges who got the last laugh as he was named the MVP of the game after a resurgent second half to which he finished with 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists.

RJ Barrett topscored for Team World with 27 markers and he was backstopped by Brandon Clarke who added 22 in the losing effort.

 

Aaron Gordon eager to finally win one

Four years removed from one of the best dunk contests ever, Aaron Gordon is still eyeing to win his first Slam Dunk trophy.

His former opponent in Zach LaVine didn’t join this time around, and that gives Gordon higher chances of winning it this time around.

“I love dunking and the creativity that comes with it. It’s going to be the last dunk contest I ever do, so it’s going to be fun. I’m gonna win,” said Gordon in an interview with The Athletic.

It can be remembered that these two went toe -to-toe back in 2016. Both pulled out some jaw-dropping dunks that left fans out of their seats and it was so close to the point that fans still argue who should’ve won it up to this day.

My personal favourites from that dunk contest were a ridiculous below-the-legs-over-the-mascot dunk by Aaron Gordon and a windmill flush attempt from Zach LaVine jumping from the free throw line.

On Saturday, Aaron Gordon will have to pull some tricks out of his hat once more as he’ll face the likes of Pat Connaughton, Derrick Jones Jr., and the returning Dwight Howard.

 

Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis part two

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo wore their GM hats once more when they were named as the captains for their teams after leading in total All-Star votes last month.

James and Antetokounmpo took turns in selecting their teammates in a draft that was televised by NBA on TNT.

 LeBron James, of course, started out with his Lakers teammate in Anthony Davis. Then he rounded out the squad with the likes of Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, Chris Paul, Domantas Sabonis, Ben Simmons, Russell Westbrook, and Jayson Tatum.

Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard was also selected in Team LeBron. However, he will be replaced by Devin Booker because of his strained right groin.

Giannis Antetokounmpo filled out his roster with his African brothers and some first-time All-Stars. He selected Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakam, Kemba Walker, Trae Young, Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Lowry, and his Bucks teammate Khris Middleton.

Team LeBron so far has been 3-0 since the All-Star Game was changed from an East-West contest to a battle of the captains. This will be the second straight year that Team LeBron and Team Giannis will lock horns.

This Sunday’s All-Star game introduced some tweaks from the original format as an ode to the late Kobe Bryant.

The first three quarters will be the same where these two teams will compete to accumulate points on the board. After the third period, these two teams will play in an untimed fourth quarter and the first team to reach the Final Target Score will win the game.

For example, if the accumulated score of the first three periods ended with a 120-116 score led by Team LeBron, the Final Target Score would be set at 144 points since 24 points are to be added to the higher score. This means that Team LeBron would need to score 24 points before Team Giannis scores 28 points.

Either way, the biggest winners in this contest are the selected beneficiaries to this initiative. The Chicago Scholars and the After School Matters foundation are listed as Team LeBron and Team Giannis’ respective charities.

 

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