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NBA All-Star Saturday Recap

Take a trip through the events of the NBA All-Star Saturday Night!

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Good evening ladies and gentlecats to your recap of the NBA All-Star Saturday Night festivities! This includes all of the events from tonight (except the 3-Point contest with Wesley Matthews, which you can find right here). Here's what happened in the Degree Shooting Stars event, the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, and the Sprite Slam Dunk contest.


The Shooting Stars event is a shooting competition, with each team featuring a current NBA player, a former NBA phenom, and a current WNBA player. Each trio splits up an angle shot, a top of the key shot, and a three-pointer, then all three team members line up at halfcourt to try and make a long bomb. Once any team member hits from halfcourt, the clock stops and their run is completed.

Team Curry (Steph Curry, his dad Del Curry, and Sue Bird) kicked it off, coming in with a respectable 47 seconds to hit their 4 shots.

Team Westbrook (Russell Westbrook, Penny Hardaway, and Tamika Catchings) went next, and while Catchings struggled, Penny bailed them out by hitting his first half-court attempt for a final time of 35 seconds.

Third up was Team Millsap (Paul Millsap, Scottie Pippen, and Elena Delle Donne), and while Pippen nailed the half court shot, the team fell just a few seconds shy of advancing at 51 seconds.

Team Bosh (Chris Bosh, Dominique Wilkins, and Swin Cash) sauntered onto the court like they owned the place and just killed it. Chris Bosh's first half-court shot was a high-arcing, no effort fling that hit nothing but net and their 30-second finish was enough to advanced to the finals with Team Westbrook.

In the finals, Team Westbrook finished their first three shots with ease, but went 0-26 from half court and the 1:30 time limit expired, leaving the door open for Team Bosh, who waltzed through it in 57 seconds on a Wilkins half court shot. This marks the third consecutive year that Team Bosh has taken home the Shooting Stars title.


Last year's Skills Challenge champion Damian Lillard rejected his invitation this year after being left off the All-Star team by the fans, coaches, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Becoming a last-minute scratch injury replacement didn't change that, so this year's field included (in alphabetical order) Patrick Beverly of the Houston Rockets; Trey Burke, Utah Jazz; Brandon Knight, Milwaukee Bucks; Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors; Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic; Dennis Schroder, Atlanta Hawks; Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks; Isaiah Thomas, Phoenix Suns; and John Wall of the Washington Wizards.

The format: all 8 players go through a gauntlet of dribbling, passing, and shooting tests. Each player competes directly against one other, head-to-head elimination. 3 rounds whittle 8 to 4, 4 to 2, and finally 2 to 1.

Beverly and Thomas kicked it off, and Beverly won as the two initiated an impromptu game of "bump" on their final shots, drawing laughs from both.

Teague and Payton were next, and Teague won easily.

Burke and Knight were third, and Knight also won without much pressure as Burke struggled with the chest pass station.

Bringing up the rear in the first round were Lowry and Schroder. Lowry had a perfect run for the win.

In the 2nd round, Beverly and Teague faced off first, and Beverly got the win despite struggling mightily at the chest pass station. Teague had him dead to rights but couldn't complete the closing shot; Beverley snuck up behind him and canned it. Knight and Lowry went second. Unlike Teague, Knight got ahead and hit his first three for the victory.

The finals pitted Knight against Beverly. Beverly again had a slow start, but came from behind for the win as he had against Teague, earning his crown as the Skills Challenge champion.

THREE-POINT CONTEST (w/ Wesley Matthews)

See here.


The Slam Dunk Contest used to be amazing. In the 80s and early 90s, there wasn't anything more exciting than seeing the best players in the world go against each other for aerial acrobatic bragging rights. But as Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins gave way to Shannon Brown and Gerald Wallace, the contest lost its shine. No longer an exhibition of the greatest high-flyers in the world, it morphed into a sad, amorphous blob of failed dunks, stupid rules, and lame gimmicks.

This year, in an attempt to reign in some the suckiness, the rules were simplified. Each competitor got 3 tries to complete a dunk. Period. 2 rounds of 2 dunks each, judged by former NBA stars, paved the avenue to success.

This was a sight better than last year's team-oriented mess of failed dunks and un-replayable action, even if the competitors included token big man Mason Plumlee of the Brooklyn Nets alongside the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, Orlando's Victor Oladipo, Zach LaVine of Minnesota Timberwolves non-fame.

Plumlee kicked off the first round with a teammate lobbing it off the side of the backboard to set up his reverse jam along the baseline. It wasn't too impressive, but still drew 40 pts (of a possible 50) from the judges.

Antetokounmpo was next with a self-lob off the ground for the long extension throwdown. Missing all three attempts, he received the minimum score of 30.

Oladipo went third, coming to the court singing Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" in a hat and jacket. This was a classic and acceptable gimmick given the venue. He still missed his first dunk, starting on right baseline and twisting for a 360+ degree pump reverse. He also missed his 2nd attempt, but converted the 3rd much to the pleasure of the crowd, and earned 50 points for the dunk of the evening...

...until non-famous Zach LaVine suddenly got famous. Sweet mother of a bumblebee, can this man fly. From the baseline, LaVine went between the legs with a left-to-right reverse dunk. It was cool, it was smooth, and it took just one attempt for a well-earned 50 points.

For their 2nd dunks, Antetokounmpo received a pass from brother Thanasis for an underwhelming reverse dunk. 35 points for the dunk, 65 points total in the first round.

Plumlee missed his next two attempts, then brought out brother Miles Plumlee (more brothers!). With Miles standing outside the restricted area, Mason jumped over him, sort of... it wasn't a great dunk. 36 points, for 76 total.

Oladipo was assisted by teammate Elfrid Payton, and went off the side of the backboard for a 360 baseline dunk that sort of trickled in. It was a nice dunk, but it wasn't great execution. 39, for 89 total.

Zach LaVine: Holy moly.... he went off the ground, behind his back (and his butt, really), and finessed home the right-handed finish. He was totally calm and in control, the showmanship making for an even more amazing spectacle than the dunk itself. 50 points without a doubt, for 100 total.... wowzer.

That left Oladipo and LaVine advancing to the finals.

Payton was there again to assist Oladipo's dunk, sitting in a chair in the restricted area. Holding the ball up, Payton gave it to his teammate who flew through, put it between his legs, and tried to finish with his left hand. Unfortunately, he missed all three attempts, and got 31 points.

LaVine had fellow 'Wolf Andrew Wiggins hold the ball then came flying from the right, stuffing the ball between his legs again for the left handed dunk. Effortless. Beautiful. 45 points.

Oladipo's 2nd round was not good. He tried two dunks, failed to convert both, then had Payton step in to assist the off-the-back-of-the-backboard dunk we've seen 100 times, grabbing him 41 undeserved points, 73 total in the finals.

LaVine, already the obvious winner, made it even more of a laugher as he had some help to throw it off the stanchion, then came from the left side, between the legs (again!), and flushed it. Not amazing, but more than enough for the win with 49 points and 94 total.

With that, Zach LaVine was your obvious and well-deserved winner of the 2015 Slam Dunk contest. Behold his majesty as old-school athletic dunking carried the day.

Note also the oh-so-subtle crowd reaction:

Can't wait to see this guy in future years.