This weekend was the start to the NBA’s All-Star weekend, a time when some of the greatest talents come out to test their skills, and a time for young talent to show off their abilities. This year saw many surprises in the contest, such as a half-court shot to win the skills contest, a dunk over Shaquille O’Neal, the first win in three years for Team USA in their freshman and sophomore game against NBA players from the rest of the world, and a perfect money ball rack by Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Joe Harris to get ahead of Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry in the 3-point contest.
The weekend started off with the celebrity game and the Mountain Dew Ice Rising Stars game. In this game the players from the last two drafts compete in a game where they are split into Team USA and Team World. The last two years have seen Team World come out on top, but this year things changed. Thanks to Los Angeles Lakers power forward Kyle Kuzma’s outstanding 35-point performance and Boston Celtics point guard Jayson Tatum putting up 30 points himself, Team USA ended the game 161-144. On the World’s team, Philadelphia 76ers second-year point guard Ben Simmons led with 28 points while Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Luka Doncic scored 13 himself while also contributing nine assists.
The next events were held Saturday, starting with the skills contest and ending with the dunking contest. In the skills contest the players were initially split up based on height. As the contest moved on, the final two players to compete were the Tatum and Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young. This contest saw Young leave Tatum in the dust out of the gate, as Tatum worked to keep up but neither player made an error. This forced Tatum to heave a shot from half-court to beat Young to the rim with his short lead. Somehow the shot banked in perfectly, making Tatum the 2019 Taco Bell Skills Challenge Champion.
The next event to be held was the Mountain Dew Three Point Contest. This saw two former winners compete with Phoenix Suns point guard Devin Booker (2018 Champion) and Curry (2015 Champion) as well as the second best 3-point shooter in the league in Harris. As the contest came to the final three, many believed that Curry would once again win the competition after a long absence. However, this didn’t happen as a result of a major comeback by Harris. Harris started the final round quite rough missing much more than his opponents. As he got close to the final rack however, he started to shoot lights out. This continued to the money ball rack where he splashed every shot putting him ahead of Curry by two points for the win with 26 points.
The last game of the night was the Dunk Competition. This year there were no big names from All-Stars, however we did see one hall of famer. Four-time NBA Champion center Shaquille O’Neal was asked to go out onto the court Saturday night as a prop for a dunk by Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard Hamidou Diallo. Diallo got the crowd on their feet as he dunked not only over Shaq, but over rapper Quavo as well. Despite a solid bid from the New York Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr., Diallo walked out with the Dunk Competition trophy.