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The Mass Media

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NBA All-Star weekend recap

A letter to all of sports: Take note of the NBA.  

As the second half of the 2019-20 NBA season officially commences, and the battle towards the playoffs barrels ahead, it would be a disservice to not at least give acknowledgment to the success that was this season’s All-Star Weekend, held this year in the windy city of Chicago. The NBA has long had difficulty when it pertains to keeping fans tuned in to the spectacle, but 2020 appears to hopefully be a turning point for that truth. The players, stars, and fans alike have all expressed their excitement with the direction in which the league is taking the break of the season, and if this is anything to be gone off of, everybody aforementioned will be in for quality content for years to come. From the Rising Stars Game, to the three-point and dunk contest, and ultimately the big game itself, this league seems to have made a turnaround in the output of quality, worthwhile watching content for fans over the course of three days, with each of the days having an event arguably deserved of viewing. This in itself goes to show what magic the league has on its hands, and whether it is the commitment to proper packaging and production, or just the influx of absolute stars the league has, the fans are the ultimate winners through it all.            

The Rising Stars game on Friday night was a perfect way to kick off the weekend, pitting the young and up and coming faces of the league against each other in what was essentially a glorified pickup game. Seeing half-court shots from the likes of Trae Young and Luka Doncic, watching former AAU teammates Ja Morant and Zion Williamson throwing alley-oops to each other, and even getting a halftime tweet indicating waking up and actually trying from the eventual MVP of the game in Miles Bridges, all contributed to what was a fun, casual enough but more than entertaining kickoff to the weekend.             

Saturday brought in the Skills challenge, three-point and dunk contest. In the Skills challenge, reigning champion Jayson Tatum of the Celtics was unable to defend his crown, getting knocked out in the first round. Tatum proclaimed that he was to retire from the challenge going forward, but undoubtedly this was not the way he saw himself going out. Bam Adebayo of Miami was the eventual winner, which would mark the start of a night of winning for Heat players. The Three-point contest might have been the most exciting one in the past couple of years, with the addition of the four-point ‘Dew’ shot from almost half court (courtesy of sponsor Mountain Dew) lending to more exciting shots. Late vote-in Devin Booker started of scorching hot, but found himself in a shootout in the final round vs. Buddy Hield of Sacramento. Despite Bookers sharpshooting, Hield ended up winning on his final shot from the corner, stealing the trophy from the Damian Lillard substitute in Booker. And finally, there was the dunk contest. This contest was easily the most entertaining of the night, and came down to a dunk off between Miami Heat’s Derrick Jones Jr. and 3-time participant but never-winning Aaron Gordon of Orlando. The two went back and forth for what seemed like forever, until an eventual dunk from just before the free-throw line etched Jones over Gordon by one point. The vote was controversial, both within in the arena and across social media alike, and while I wouldn’t even have been against a tie, do not discredit Jones Jr’s dunking ability or deservedness to win in the slightest.        

Ultimately the weekend was capped off with the All-Star Game on Sunday. Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis, for the second year in a row. Now while the All-Star game has been rather conventionally boring for years on year now, what with its given handful of highlights and absolutely no defense in sight, the league decided to change things up this season. The rules of the game were altered slightly, and while more tweaks may be necessary in the years going forward, the way this year went was that at the end of the first three quarters, the team in the lead’s score is factored, and in honor of the late Kobe Bryant, are given the set target score of 24 points more than what they have. And so, in an untimed, non-commercial having quarter, both teams play to the target score of 157, rather than until the clock ran out. This actually played out amazingly, as the fans were treated to probably the most intense conclusion to an All-Star game in memory. Team LeBron ended up stealing the show, capping the weekend with a 157155 victory of team Giannis. Kawhi Leonard won the MVP, now named the Kobe Bryant MVP Award, and truly the weekend could not have gone better for the league if they wanted it to. Sure, adjustments will be made, but given the overall success and pleasure of everybody involved, I think that it is safe to say the NBA is setting precedent sports the world over could, and maybe should, take note of.