• OTG Staff

Roundtable: All-Star Weekend

All-Star Weekend was pretty dope, but just like we saw in the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest, there can only be one.

What was your highlight of All-Star Weekend?

Romana Bholat (@Ro_ma_na) – The highlight of a very memorable All-Star Weekend was definitely Kanye West dropping his long-awaited album, The Life of Pablo. Okay, I’m (partially) kidding, but that for sure added to a weekend that’ll live in All-Star infamy.

Now that ASW is done, I can admit that I thought this year’s dunk contest would be similar to that of years past: A clear favorite running away with the competition, leaving the other dunkers on the sidelines of mediocrity.

I mean, c’mon; there’s no way any of these other guys could compete with defending slam-dunk champ, Zach LaVine, right? He’s a runaway win, right?

I hate being wrong.

This year’s slam-dunk contest was legendary and I’m not even hitting you with that signature All-Star Weekend exaggeration. All four competitors put up solid, crowd-pleasing dunks, but Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon had me eating my words.

If it was possible to give a guy a collective score higher than 50, Gordon deserved it; twice. The 180-windmill dunk with the arm cocked back behind his head was jaw dropping. The under both legs dunk whilst jumping over his team mascot was…was it even real? How does one defy the laws of gravity with such ease and finesse?

He sat in mid-air. And he lost.

The fans however, won. The absolute feast of athleticism, creativity, and showmanship were what we’ve been vying for since the days of Vinsanity. This was a battle of heavyweights that we’ll still be getting hyped over in 50 years.

Aaron Gordon may not have come out of the 6ix with the slam-dunk trophy, but he definitely shocked the world and showed everyone that he’s got the juice. Don’t get me wrong, I think LaVine deserved to win, but Gordon brought that surprise oomph that only Stuff the Magic Dragon and his hover board could predict before the contest went down.

I’ve never been happier to be wrong. Welcome back, dunk contest.

Parth Goradia (@parth_goradia92) – Toronto, you deserved a premiere NBA showcase, and that’s exactly what you got. Okay sure, the game on Sunday night was a snoozer, and the constant barrage of Kobe questions from the media was a bit much. But all in all, it was a fantastic weekend headlined by the best All-Star Saturday night, EVER.

Now while I was unable to attend due to the way my bank account is set up, Toronto’s frigid conditions were felt in Virginia. So I did the only what any person would do; got pho and MANNED UP, with Icy Hot!

I know, I know, Shaq (purposely?) mixes his Gold Bond pitch with Icy Hot, and even though he’s routinely shitted on by the online basketball community for his commentary, make no mistake; Shaq Diesel was the MVP of All-Star weekend.

During a Friday telecast on TNT, Dr. O’Neal suggested we all shift the long debated barbershop topic from greatest of all time, to, greatest of an era. While this has been brought up before, never before have I heard this much logic on a mainstream broadcast. We should change the topic and give everyone their due, because we will never know who’s actually the greatest of all time.

For example, Steph Curry has the chance to be legendary, but what would he be if hand checking was allowed and there wasn’t a three-point line? It’s impossible to know, but that’s what we do when we compare players from different generations.

In addition to trying to change a hotly contested topic, Shaq-Fu helped to raise the bar of a classic dunk contest. Penalizing Gordon and LaVine for missing their first attempts only increased the stakes and pressure of the contest. And what we got thereafter were legendary dunks, all delivered on their very first attempt.

So Big Aristotle, you are truly…SUPERMAN!

Kory Waldron (@KoryGuns) – Maybe it’s just me loving the game of basketball, or maybe it’s the fact that Kobe Bryant is my all-time favorite player. Either way this All-Star weekend was one of the best one’s that I can remember in recent years.

From the BBVA Compass Rising Stars showcase all the way to the big dance on Sunday night, it felt special. Kobe’s final All-Star game, despite having a massive Black Mamba scoring output, one of the coolest moments I’ve ever witnessed. LeBron James, with a huge smile, sets up to guard Kobe. He creeps up slaps the floor, and extends his arms wide as if saying “Kobe let me have this dance, just one more time.”

Bryant, of course, accepts the challenge, but shoots a fadeaway that came up just short. It was a Kobe moment not made by the shot, but made by the pure admiration and respect shown; two history defining talents, competing one last time on the All-Star stage. It’s an image that will showcase Kobe Bryant’s final All-Star memory and a moment that will last a lifetime.

Greg Alcala (@GregUnderwood92) – My favorite moment from All-Star Weekend was the dunk contest. It’s the one contest I look forward to every year, although I enjoy all of the events that precede it, and it’s because of its history.

I didn't grow up watching MJ and Dominique Wilkins go at it, but I remember Vince Carter in 2000. I remember Nate Robinson, Dwight Howard, Gerald Green and most recently, Zach LaVine. These guys have increased my interest in seeing what hasn't been done before in the air.

After seeing LaVine put on a show last year, I didn't know how he would top it in 2016. Well, he found a suitable gladiator in Aaron Gordon. I thought Gordon should've won because of the difficulty of his dunks and how he used the Orlando Magic's Mascot "Stuff the Magic Dragon," but LaVine jumping from the free throw line on three consecutive dunks, was insane. It probably should have been a tie, but in the end, the most important people won; the fans.

Siwale Chabala – My favorite moment wasn’t the resurrection of the dunk contest or the Kobe Bryant All-Star farewell; it was the Reggie Miller vs. Drake ping pong game. I played a little ping pong growing up, wasn't that great, but I was always intrigued by the sport. So much so that I even watched it during the Olympics during the Summer Games.

I knew Reggie had some ping pong skills because he said that he played when he was younger and continued to do so in his older age. But Drake, I thought he was going to stink it up on the paddles. I was imagining him singing at the ball instead of hitting it or trying to distract Reggie with his freestyle lyrics. I just didn't see it.

Once they showed the clips and games from their match, I was very shocked by both ping pong players. Reggie Miller looked like a pro out there with fast rocket accurate shots, while Drizzy was great with drop shots touching the line and corners of the ping pong table. These two were going at it and showing how it’s done. It was a best of 3 series, tied at one, last game, Drake had a good lead on Reggie until Miller snatched the victory from the jaws of defeat. He made a miraculous comeback to win the last and final game.

I have a new found respect for Drake, he brought his ping pong game with him but Reggie Miller was just the better player. The rematch has been signed already for the Western Conference Finals, and hopefully it’s just as great as the first encounter. I can see it now in the bright lights of Las Vegas, Miller vs. Drake 2. Well maybe not, but I will be watching.

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