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A guide to the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game

The biggest question of All-Star Weekend: Can Team Walton upset Team Nique in the All-Star Celebrity Game

NFL Pro Bowl
Celebrity All-Star MVP favorite Myles Garrett plays in a different exhibition game.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

You can read a lot about the Three Point Contest, the Dunk Contest, even the All-Antetokounmpo Skills Challenge all over the place. Golden State of Mind is proud to present the most extensive - and perhaps only - NBA All-Star Celebrity Game preview for 2022. Yes, Coaches Bill Walton and Dominique Wilkins will lead their squads of rappers, country singers, Instagram influencers, Peloton instructors, and even one contest winner for the honor of taking home the Celebrity Game trophy. (Note: Trophy does not exist)

It’s an interesting field this year, full of brand-new entrants to the Celebrity Game. Gone is last year’s MVP Common, who won the award in his 8th Celeb Game. That’s second only to Nick Cannon, who played in the game ten times. Longtime veteran Kevin Hart (5 games) is retired, as is five-timer Donald Faison and 62-year-old Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry, who has somehow been in five of these. (It’s possible Lasry has become too toxic even for an NBA owner after the Ozy Media scandal, or perhaps his participation in the underground “Molly’s Game” poker world, or being a board member of the Weinstein Company, but most likely his knees are just too bad.) There’s only two veterans returning - country singer Kane Brown, and 2018 MVP Quavo.

Both teams are peppered with local Cleveland celebrities, who seem to have wildly varying levels of skill. We are pretty sure All-Pro Cleveland Browns defense end Myles Garrett can play ball; Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb is more of a wild card. On paper, Team Nique seems to have more talent, but they don’t play these All-Star Celebrity Games on paper, people! You can’t even underestimate Quavo, truly one of the most talented celebrity ballers we’ve ever seen in this game, a better dribbler than Jason Sudeikis, more of a scorer than the Arcade Fire’s Win Butler, and almost as good as the legendary Brian McKnight, whose jumper was even sweeter than his singing voice. Let’s break down the key matchups:

Jimmie Allen (Walton) vs. Kane Brown (Nique): Each team features one mixed-race country music star, though Brown has more experience, both in Nashville and on the court. Allen was only the second black performer to win New Artist of the Year at the Country Music Awards, after Darius Rucker. Brown has won multiple American Music Awards, but for the purpose of this piece, the important difference is that Brown is a good four inches taller. If Allen can dominate Brown, they might start calling him the Scottie Pippen of Delaware.

Machine Gun Kelly (Walton) vs. Jack Harlow (Nique): This game continue to burst steroetypes, as the black country singers are joined by two white rappers. Machine Gun Kelly, Megan Fox’s fiancee, went to high school in Cleveland, and he’s quite tall (almost 6’4”) though quite skinny, and we could find no evidence of his athletic background. It’s not clear if the slightly-shorter Harlow has a lot of basketball experience, but he did grow up in Louisville and has a hit song called “Tyler Herro.” Give the edge to Harlow, though Kelly might have a little bit of Shawn Bradley in him. Which means Harlow is going to try to dunk on him. Both might not be great players, but they’re sleeper picks for the MVP award - because it’s a fan vote.

Matt James (Walton) vs. Myles Garrett (Nique): Matt James, the first black “Bachelor” in the ABC’s show’s history, has an extensive athletic background, playing wide receiver for Wake Forest. He’s 6’5” and 210, the biggest player at Walton’s disposal, and appears to be an excelent athlete. Unfortunately, Myles Garrett is a football player right now, and he’s 6’4” and 275. Is the Celebrity Game usually a physical affair? No, but with Garrett playing, it’s going to be. In front of a home crowd, with Cleveland desperate to win at literally anything, Garrett is going to flatten the Bachelor and then hand him a rose.

Ranveer Singh (Walton) vs. Anjali Ranadive (Nique): Ranveer Singh is a huge Bollywood star, and an NBA Brand Ambassador to India. Does he know how to play basketball? Maybe not, but he still has to be considered an MVP favorite - it’s a fan vote! Meanwhile Anjali Ranadive is the daughter of Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, who famously coached her middle school team that dominated opponents by only practicing full-court pressing, not shooting, passing, or dribbling. She also once recorded a song with French Montana and sang it before a Kings game. It’s equally likely that her aggressive defense will befuddle Team Walton, and that her mere association with the Kings franchise means Team Nique is doomed. If the team trades Garrett and Harlow at halftime for scrubs, Anjali is the one to blame!

Quavo (Walton) vs. Anuel AA (Nique): As mentioned before, the 5’10” Quavo has a lot of basketball skills. It’s less clear whether the 5’6” Anuel AA, a Puerto Rican rapper, can play basketball. Most likely, Quavo will be bad and boujee, and Anuel AA will just be bad.

Alex Toussaint (Walton) vs. Mayor Justin Bibb (Nique): A big matchup of two popular leaders. The 34-year-old Bibb is Cleveland’s second-youngest mayor, pledging to bring leadership and public safety to Cleveland. Meanwhile Toussaint leads thousands of home Peleton users to stand on their pedals just a little longer with his trademark “fantasy rides” with celebrities. He’s Doris Burke’s favorite instructor! These guys may not contribute on the court but their intangibles will be off the charts. And Walton loves biking, he may lean on Toussaint quite a bit, especially if they have to climb back into the game.

Dearica Hambry (Walton) vs Bobby Gibson (Nique): It feels unfair and mildly insulting that WNBA players have to participate at all. It’s somewhat unwinnable: If they dominate rappers and influencers, it looks like bullying, but they’re also targets if someone like Jack Harlow wants to score on a pro. It’s especially unfair that Team Nique gets to counter with a former NBA player, Booby Gibson, although Hambry, the two-time Sixth Woman of the Year, is taller and probably stronger than the former Cavs two guard.

Nyjah Huston (Walton) vs. Tiffany Haddish (Nique): The two big questions are: Will Huston, the world’s highest-paid skateboarder, be allowed to ride his board during the game? And will Haddish be allowed to relentlessly roast her opponents on a mic? It’s not clear whether either of them can play basketball, though Huston can probably really jump. Haddish did star in “Uncle Drew,” so she does have experience with washed-up basketball players wearing too much makeup, a big part of the Celeb Game. Note: Haddish’s breakup with Common last year may have forced him into retirement!

Our heads say Team Nique takes this one in a blowout, and honestly, so do our hearts. Quavo is going to have to have a 2007 LeBron playoffs performance to lift his inferior teammates, and might demand that Dan Gilbert trade for Offset down the stretch, But it’s likely that Gibson will play harder than a normal Celebrity vet down the stretch, Garrett will dominate, and Harlow will be too much for MGK down low. Prediction: Team Nique by 15, Garrett MVP, and afterward Kelly releases a song even worse than Anajli Ranadive’s.

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