The second half of the 2020–21 NBA season is underway after an eventful All-Star Weekend. This year’s All-Star festivities were condensed into one night in Atlanta, Ga. The NBA pulled off playing without fans in a traditionally fan-focused event, though not without some obstacles. From an action-filled All-Star Game to some memorable performances in the Skills Challenge, 3-Point Contest and Slam Dunk Contest, let’s run through some of the highlights from this year’s All-Star break.
1. Sabonis wins Skills Challenge, Curry wins second 3-Point Contest
In what has become a trend in recent years, another big man has taken home the Skills Challenge championship. This year’s champion: Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis. The two-time All-Star defeated fellow All-Stars Julius Randle and Luka Doncic in the first two rounds before defeating Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic in the championship round. In the 3-Point Contest, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry took home his second 3-Point title, defeating fellow All-Stars Mike Conley and Jayson Tatum in the championship round. The Warriors guard won it in stunning fashion, nailing his final shot to reach 28 points, surpassing Conley’s 27. In addition to Tatum and Conley, Curry also beat out All-Stars Jaylen Brown, Zach LaVine and Donovan Mitchell to win his second 3-Point title, becoming only the seventh player to win multiple.
2. Simons wins Slam Dunk Contest
In a three-person field, Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons was crowned the Slam Dunk Contest winner, beating out New York Knicks forward Obi Toppin and Indiana Pacers guard Cassius Stanley. The participants threw down some truly impressive dunks. From Simons’ dunk in tribute to former winner Tracy McGrady to Toppin's windmill dunk over two people, viewers at home saw some truly incredible dunks. While many criticized this year’s Dunk Contest for being lackluster, the dunks showcased the true athletic ability of some of the best basketball players in the world.
3. Team LeBron wins All-Star Game, Antetokounmpo wins All-Star MVP as weekend centers HBCUs
In what has become a pattern since the All-Star Game format switched to captains, Team LeBron won yet again, defeating Team Durant 170-150. Despite the lack of fans, the feel of the All-Star game was still there. From players like Curry and Chris Paul throwing down dunks to some wild half-court shots from Curry and Damian Lillard, including the winning basket, the All-Star Game still provided fans with a showcase of the league’s best players. Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo took home All-Star Game MVP honors after scoring 35 points on 16–16 shooting. While Antetokounmpo won MVP and Team LeBron won for the fourth straight year, this year’s biggest winners were historically Black colleges and universities. From the court design to the pregame performances to the charities both teams played for, many aspects of this year’s All-Star Gamecentered historically Black colleges and universities. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund and United Negro College Fund, both of which support students at historically Black colleges and universities, came away withat least $1.5 million in funding.