The 2023 NBA All-Star Game showcased a record-setting performance by Jayson Tatum, who scored 55 points and won the Kobe Bryant MVP award. Tatum was picked first by Giannis Antetokounmpo and led Team Giannis to a 184-175 victory over Team LeBron, ending LeBron James’ undefeated record as captain. Tatum broke Anthony Davis’ All-Star record of 52 points and had 27 points in the third quarter, also an All-Star Game record for any period. Donovan Mitchell added 40 points to Team Giannis, and Damian Lillard scored 26 points, including the game-winner to push his team past the target score. Kyrie Irving had 32 points and 15 assists, and Joel Embiid finished with 32 points for Team LeBron. Jaylen Brown, Tatum’s Boston teammate, scored 35 points and had 14 rebounds for Team LeBron.
The teams played for charity, with Team Giannis raising $550,000 for Raise the Future and Team LeBron raising $200,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. Before the second half, the NBA paid tribute to the three leading scorers in NBA history: No. 3 Karl Malone, No. 2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James, now the game’s career leader. Antetokounmpo played only 20 seconds due to a right wrist injury, and James finished with 13 points after suffering a right-hand contusion that does not appear to be serious but was kept out of the second half for precautionary reasons. Although the All-Star game was a high-scoring affair, many felt that it has become a glorified layup contest. Denver Nugget’s head coach Mike Malone led the voices of concern for the current state of the All-Star game when he stated that “That’s the worst basketball game ever played…I don’t know if you can fix it”.
NBA- 3-Point Contest
In a highly competitive 2023 NBA 3-Point Contest, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers emerged as the champion. It was Lillard’s first-ever win in the competition, and he did it in style, dropping an impressive 26 points in the first round. Lillard advanced to the final alongside Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield of the Indiana Pacers. Haliburton had tied the contest’s record with 31 points in the first round, while Hield put up a solid 23 points.
In the final, Hield got things started with a score of 25, but Lillard responded by wearing his college Weber State jersey and putting on a show with a hot final rack from the left corner. Lillard finished with 26 points, edging out Hield for the win. Haliburton, who had been so impressive in the first round, struggled mightily in the final, mustering just 17 points. Lillard’s victory was a testament to his talent and his ability to perform in clutch situations, as he had told Utah it was “Dame Time” with his win. After his win, Lillard reflected on what it meant to win “I think all the best shooters in the history of our game, most of them have one of these… I just wanted to get it done at least one time. So I’m happy I got it, now I can retire from it.”
Kia Skills Challenge
In the 2023 Kia Skills Challenge the home team Jazz emerged victorious in front of their home fans. Team Jazz, featuring Jordan Clarkson, Collin Sexton, and Walker Kessler, put on a stellar performance to earn a total of 300 points. The trio won both the team passing and team shooting portions of the event, showcasing their exceptional ball-handling skills and sharpshooting abilities. Team Rooks, consisting of Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith Jr., and Jaden Ivey, won the relay portion of the competition and earned 100 points. However, it wasn’t enough to surpass the dominant performance of Team Jazz.
Team Antetokounmpo, led by Jrue Holiday and including Thanasis Antetokounpmo and Alex Antetokounmpo, struggled to find their footing in the event and failed to win a single challenge. Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was set to participate, was forced to sit out due to an injury, dealing a significant blow to his team’s chances. The home team’s victory was undoubtedly the highlight of the event, as Team Jazz scored a whopping 88 points in the team passing a portion of the Skills Challenge and adding 13 points in the team shooting portion.
NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest
Philadelphia 76ers guard Mac McClung has officially made history as the first player from the franchise to win the Slam Dunk Contest. In the 2023 event held over the weekend, four of the league’s top high-flyers – McClung, Jericho Sims of the New York Knicks, Trey Murphy III of the New Orleans Pelicans, and Kenyon Martin Jr. of the Houston Rockets – competed for the title.
The atmosphere was electric as the players took turns to showcase their acrobatic dunks, but McClung was the clear standout performer of the night. In his first attempt, he leaped over two people, grabbed the ball mid-air, tapped the backboard, and reverse-slammed it into the hoop, receiving a perfect score of 50.
McClung continued to amaze the judges and the audience with his second dunk in the first round, earning a round-high score of 49.8. He ended the first round with a total score of 99.8, firmly establishing himself as the frontrunner in the competition.
Only two dunkers were able to advance to the final round, and McClung was joined by Trey Murphy III. However, McClung saved his best dunks for last, achieving two perfect scores of 50 for his third and fourth attempts. Murphy III finished with a combined score of 99, but it was not enough to overtake McClung’s impressive performance, securing the championship for the 76ers guard.
Social media exploded with reactions to McClung’s stunning dunks, which left fans and fellow players in awe of his athleticism and creativity. After the dunk contest had gone stale from 2017-2022, McClung’s energy and creativity had Shaq himself saying that McClung had “saved the dunk contest.”
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