Marking the imaginary halfway point of the 82-game season (all teams have played over 41 games), the NBA’s annual All-Star Weekend is set to tip-off this Friday in Houston. This year’s event is sure to be a crowd-pleaser full of higher jumps and bigger dunks. Not only is it shining light on some of the game’s biggest stars, past and present, but it’s paying birthday tribute to our royal Airness, Michael Jordan (MJ. Not LJ.)
The entertainment begins Friday night with the Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. In years past, stars like Justin Bieber and Terrell Owens have hit the hardwood. This year we’ll find out if musicians Trey Songz, Ne-Yo, and Common can lay more than just a beat. Other notable names on the roster include Olympian, Usain Bolt; Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan; and reigning NBA All-Star Celebrity Game MVP, Kevin Hart. Later that night, Team Shaq and Team Barkley will face-off in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge.
The fun continues on Saturday with the D-League All-Star Game and the much- anticipated All-Star Saturday Night presented by State Farm on TNT. First in the line-up is the Sears Shooting Stars sharp-shooting competition—reminiscent of the blacktop game “Around the World.” James Harden and Russell Westbrook will lead the West while Chris Bosh and Brook Lopez carry the East.
Next up: The Taco Bell Skills Challenge. First introduced in 2003, the Skills Challenge sends players through an obstacle course that gets back to basics and emphasizes the fundamentals: controlled dribbling, precise passing and accurate shooting. The player that completes two-rounds with the best time wins. Facing off this year are Jrue Holiday, Jeff Teague, Brandon Knight, Jeremy Lin, Tony Parker, and Damian Lillard.
Starting off the second half of the night is the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest. Six of the NBA’s best shooters will square off in a shootout for best-beyond-the-arch bragging rights. Five shooting stations will be set up around the three-point line, with four game balls worth one point each and one commemorative ball worth two points each at every station. Each player will have one minute to shoot as many balls, and score as many points, as he can. Representing the East are Paul George, Kyrie Irving and Steve Novak. While Ryan Anderson, Matt Bonner and Stephen Curry suit up for the West.
As always, the best is saved for last. The most awaited event of the evening is the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest; and it’s sure to rattle some rims. Gerald Green, Terrance Ross and James White will be soaring for the East while Eric Bledsoe, Kenneth Faried and reigning champ Jeremy Evans hang time for the West. Fans will once again be able to choose the winner by voting via text message, Twitter, NBA.com, or the official NBA All-Star App.
All-Star Weekend wraps up on Sunday with the 50th birthday of M.J. and the 62nd annual NBA All-Star Game. Twenty-five of the NBA’s best will suit-up for the game. The East is represented by powerhouses such as Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Kevin Garnett, and Carmelo Anthony while the West has superstars Blake Griffen, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, and Dwight Howard.
The East currently leads the West in the all-time series, 36-25. However, the West has been victorious in the last two years. If Kobe, the 2011 All-Star MVP, doesn’t score more than he did recently against the Suns, though, the East just might steal the crown—and you better believe King James wants it back.
Don’t miss the 2013 NBA All-Star Game! Tune-in to TNT on Sunday at 8PM EST.