Groupies start your engines! All-Star Weekend is upon us once again. The yearly clusterf*ck of sex, drugs, entertainment, and sometimes basketball, is going dine in H-Tine this year. As usual, the weekend is action-packed, so we here at The Smoking Section have provided you with a cheat sheet of sorts to help you focus on the most interesting characters and story lines of the weekend. Here’s who you should pay attention to during All-Star Weekend 2013.
Previously: Quick Hits On The 2013 NBA All-Star Game Starters
Who to watch: Usain Bolt
Believe it or not, the best athlete in town for All-Star Weekend will not be playing on Sunday or participating in the dunk contest. With Justin Bieber sitting out this year due to what I will assume is a hair-related injury, your focus should shift to Usain Bolt. The fastest man in the world should put on a high-flying aerial act to rival his NBA brethren.
Parting shots: Will Ne-Yo be allowed to wear a fedora on the court? Will Common play like Scott McKnight, or get schooled by Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan?
Rising Stars Challenge
Who to watch: Ricky Rubio
What do you get when you surround a pass-happy guard with yo-yo like ball control and a flair for the spectacular with a bunch of high-flying relative unknowns looking to make a name for themselves? A damn good show. The Spanish point guard with And 1 handles should make for a more interesting than usual Rising Stars Challenge. Look for both teams to come close to combining for 300 points.
Parting Shots: Damian Lillard has the Rookie of Year trophy just about locked up, right? Who is going to end up on the business end of a dunk by Kenneth “The Manimal” Faried?
NBA Skills Challenge and Shooting Stars
Three Point Contest
Who to watch: Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving is not waiting his turn. He wants to be considered one of the best players in the league right now (it seems clear that he’s already one of the best guards), and is making a hell of an argument this season. Averaging just a hair under 24 points a game, with a 43% average from beyond the arc, Irving is one of the most dynamic and potent scorers in the game. Equally dangerous as a shooter and a penetrator, Irving will have a great chance to make it the final round of the shootout, where he will likely go head to head with another great young guard in Stephen Curry.
Parting Shots: Will Uncle Drew make an appearance this weekend? Who knew Matt Bonner was still alive?
Who to watch: James “Flight” White
This is almost a yearly refrain. Can _____ bring the dunk contest back? We’ve suffered through the wheel o’ dunks, Nate Robinson, and dozens of human and inanimate props being leapt over with varying degrees of success. LeBron teases that he might participate every year, only to leave the fans disappointed and curious about what his combination of athleticism, power and creativity would produce on the big stage.
What the fans are hoping for is a transcendent individual performance that will change the way we think about what can happen on a basketball court. Think of a five foot six guard with a bad haircut named Spud defeating The Human Highlight Film. Think The Eastbay Funk. Think Vince Carter hanging from the rim by the crook of his elbow. Dunk contests either suck or are classics. We roll the dice each year hoping for the latter.
Thankfully, we are in luck this year. James White is participating. He is relatively unknown to the average basketball fan because he doesn’t get onto the court much for the Knicks, but fans from the DC area know what’s in store. White possesses almost mutant-like athleticism with elongated, seemingly plastic, limbs. Just take a look at the video and dream of the possibilities.
The Big Game
Who to watch: Kobe Bryant
We are only at the halfway mark, but this may be the longest season ever for 17-year veteran, Kobe Bryant. Already on his second coach and 293rd starting lineup combination, Kobe ran fresh out of f*cks some time back in early December. Recently, Kobe transformed himself into a facilitator, but you figure he’s probably breaking out in hives from all of the passing he’s been doing. The All Star Game provides the greenest of lights for the league’s best scorers. Expect Kobe to step on the gas with both feet, and put up as many points as his battered body will let him
Parting Shots: If Lebron and KG both go up for the same rebound, who let’s go first? Will Dwight play in the All-Star game and piss Kobe off even more?