All-Star Saturday is, perhaps, the most unique day in professional sports. The day before the NBA All-Star Game, some of the league’s best players got together for a trio of challenges, to highlight some of the more exciting elements in the sport.
While the Golden State Warriors have four players in Sunday’s game, they only had one participant in the Saturday festivities. But that one contestant sure made things interesting. And on top of that, it was fun to watch the competitions, and imagine how various Warriors would perform.
The Three-Point Contest featured eight of the league’s top gunners, including Klay Thompson. Would we see another vintage performance from Klay?
Yes. But unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough, as Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns threw in a performance for the record books.
There was plenty of drama. Whoa, was there drama.
Thompson struggled in the opening round, and needed a crazy finish to advance. With all the poise of someone whose done this many, many times before, he made his final three money balls to advance.
But in the second and final round, he ran into Booker, who put together the highest single-round score in contest history.
Still, Thompson nearly won, splashing in 25 points, which would have been plenty enough on almost any other day.
And while he didn’t win the contest, he did win in the eyes of many, as the cheers for his introduction were thunderous relative to his opponents.
Klay got the biggest ovation, by FAR pic.twitter.com/mQfKJ0jjHY— Golden State of Mind (@unstoppablebaby) February 18, 2018
Were the ovations because the Warriors are so popular, or because fans of the Los Angeles Lakers want him to sign with them next summer? Who knows.
How would other Warriors have fared?
There are only two players in the world who have a chance at besting the score Booker put up: Thompson, and Stephen Curry. Tonight, Booker just had it. But hopefully we see Curry back out there again soon.
Slam Dunk Contest
Well . . . it wasn’t the greatest Slam Dunk Contest ever. But there were some incredible moments. And it’s worth noting that we set the bar very, very high; if we don’t compare these to Vince Carter and Zach LaVine, they’re nothing short of absurd feats of human athleticism.
Rookie Donovan Mitchell took home the trophy, but Dennis Smith Jr. had the highlight dunk of the evening:
The contest lacked a little flair, in part because the contestants (Mitchell, Smith Jr., Larry Nance Jr., and Victor Oladipo) lacked star power. It’s hard not to wonder what the contest could be if the likes of LeBron James and Russell Westbrook decided to participate.
How would Warriors have fared?
The contest may have lacked a little something, but it still featured some great dunkers, and some jaw-dropping dunks. I’m not sure any Warrior could compete with what this group did, but I do know that I would like to see Kevin Durant try.
Also, can we get Jason Richardson out of retirement?
The Skills Challenge is the least exciting of the day’s events, but it is fun to see players of different sizes and strengths compete in dribbling, passing, and shooting.
Spencer Dinwiddie won the contest, with a nearly perfect final round. But the highlight was watching fan favorite Joel Embiid - all seven feet of him - gallop down the court, holding his own in a contest clearly designed for smaller players. I doubt I’m alone in thinking that he’d look darn good in a Warriors jersey. Speaking of Warriors...
How would Warriors have fared?
I feel very comfortable claiming that Curry and Durant could win the Skills Challenge with their eyes closed.
The exciting and unpredictable All-Star Saturday is officially in the books, but there’s still the big show: The 2018 NBA All-Star Game. That takes place at 5PM PST today, and we’ll be covering it live from the Staples Center, so be sure to follow @UnstoppableBaby on Twitter.