This weekend the NBA All-Star festivities will take place in  New Orleans.  All of the action tips off tonight with the “Rising Stars Challenge,” But there is going to be plenty of fun before that game tips off as the “Celebrity Game” will take place before the NBAs’ young superstars taking the court.
I’m interested in the Celebrity game this year because, in my opinion, one team is loaded.I know its all in fun, but when I look at Michael Smith’s team, it appears to be stacked. First, there is Baron Davis who was not only a star in his playing days at UCLA But also an NBA Star with the Charlotte Hornets and four other teams before ending his career. Then there are the Millers’ Percy Aka ” Master P” and Romeo  Aka ” Lil Romeo.” They are better known for their musical talents, but both are pretty good players, as a matter of fact, the younger Miller (Romeo) played basketball for USC. Then there are  WNBA stars Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker who’s outstanding performances this season lead the Los Angeles Sparks to the WNBA Title. So even though  I’m a Jamele Hill fan and she does have NBA legend Jason Williams on her squad, and Nick Cannon may be able to ball a little bit, if things get serious her East team has no chance.
That brings me to the  “Rising Stars Challenge.” This game is going to be loads of fun. The U.S. Team features the “Big Kat” Karl-Anthony Towns who is averaging 23 points per game and 11 rebounds. He is flanked by Jahlil Okafor, D’ Angelo Russell, and Brandon Ingram. Okafor and Russell are averaging double figures in scoring this season and Ingram as you know was the number two overall pick in this years NBA Draft. The World team roster has some gems as well in the form of Dante’ Exum, Buddy Hield, Kristap Porzingis and former Kentucky Wildcat Jamal Murray. All my money is on the “Big Kat” and his supporting cast. Because Mr. Towns is a beast with many skills for a big man and he can dominate in the paint.
Saturday is the day that many people anticipate because the day’s festivities wrap up with the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.  The day begins with the Hall of Fame Announcement followed later by the NBA D-League All-Stars mixing it up. Then the three events of the night take center stage. First, there is the  “Taco Bell Skills Challenge” an event that brings out the best or worst of the stars as they manipulate a skills course that measures speed and efficiency. Don’t be surprised when you see big men Anthonys Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans or DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins out there competing against the little guys. Both Davis and Cousins are over 6’9″ tall and will face the likes of  Washington Wizards’ Guard  John Wall ( 6’4″) or even  Boston Celtics’ Point guard  Isaiah Thomas (5’9″). My money is not on the Big men in this one especially when you have someone with the ball handling skills of a John Wall competing, By the way, did you notice a pattern in the type of players involved in the All-star weekend?  I will give you a hint Wall, Towns, Murray, Davis and Cousins all went to this school. It appears to be an NBA version of the Kentucky Wildcats basketball program totally involved in the All-Star festivities.
The Three point contest follows the skills challenge. The name that stands out in this eight-man field is defending three-point shooting champ  Klay Thompson aka Golden State Warriors Splash Brother number two. Thompson may get competition from Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, but I think the three point crown is his to lose and I don’t think that will happen. The highlight of the night is anticipated to be the Verizon Slam Dunk contest. Two-time defending champion Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves decided not to compete this year, but runner-up Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic is back. Last year LaVine and Gordon put on a show that many NBA fans say took the contest to another level. Gordon will be challenged by L.A. Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan, Derrick Jones Jr. of the Phoenix Suns and Glenn Robinson III of the Indiana Pacers. I think the Slam Dunk crown this time will belong to Gordon.
The weekend wraps up Sunday with the main event pitting the East All-Stars against the West All-Stars. My Heart says the East,  led by Lebron James, Kyrie Irving along with  Giannis  Antetokoumpo, DeMar DeRozan, Carmelo Anthony and Jimmy Butler will win. But my head is telling me that the Western All-Stars have all the fire power they need to beat up on the East. The West is led by Steph Curry, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant. Then there is Russell Westbrook the league’s leading scorer who was not voted as an All-Star starter.Westbrook may play as if he has something to prove, which we know is the last thing he needs to do. Since he already has 27 triple-double performances in the first half of this season., I’m going with my head on this one and pick the West to win, and  I’m also going to enjoy watching them fighting off the East to do it. I also think Russell Westbrook gets the nod as MVP.
Trevin A Jones
Follow me on Twitter: @UMTsportsreport

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