Superstars played like it. Shots were blocked. Treys were drained. History was made. And a star was born. The 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend from New York City enjoyed a plethora of memorable moments, but none stood out more to us than these five awesome showings.
1. Zach LaVine bringing back the dunk contest
While assessing LaVine’s winning performance of the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, we wrote that “not much needs to be said” – then continued saying for hundreds of words more. But the exhilarating high-wire act of the Minnesota Timberwolves rookie promoted just that type of backwards thinking. No one believed LaVine could top his awe-inspiring first dunk, and there’s an argument to be made that he did just that on his ensuing three slams.
The only question now is if he can do it again next year in Toronto. And while we’re still not sure of that despite but LaVine’s seemingly limitless dunking potential, one thing definitely is: The world will be watching.
2. Russell Westbrook’s All-Star MVP explosion
We always thought the Oklahoma City Thunder’s ultra dynamic and always divisive superstar was tailor-made for All-Star Games, and he proved it on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. After a nearly record-breaking 41-point explosion that was highlighted by three consecutive triples and a head-scraping alley-oop jam, Westbrook was named MVP for leading the West to a 163-158 win over the East.
It was exactly the type of performance you’d expect from Russ at his best – wild, incendiary, and altogether breathtaking. If he can harness a reasonable semblance of that play throughout the rest of the regular season, it’s a foregone conclusion Oklahoma City will rise from its health-induced doldrums to become a potential playoff force come April.
3. Steph Curry’s red-hot Three-Point Shootout victory
This year’s three-point contest more than lived up to the hype generated by its accomplished and star-laden field. What a testament it is to Curry’s unparalleled shooting gifts that his win wasn’t a surprise despite coming over the likes Kyle Korver, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, and more.
Any other year, the Golden State Warriors’ leading MVP candidate making 13 consecutive treys during his 27-point final round would be All-Star Saturday’s highlight. And while LaVine is ultimately the one who stole the show, Curry’s performance was perhaps just as impressive – just not at all as surprising.
4. Rudy Gobert’s personal paint party
Andrew Wiggins was named MVP of the Rising Stars Challenge for scoring a game-high 22 points and putting on a typically effortless dunking exhibition. But not only was Gobert a bigger reason why Team World ultimately prevailed over Team USA, but his performance was even more exciting than the Rookie of the Year favorites, too.
The Utah Jazz’s 7-2 Frenchman continued his breakout sophomore campaign on Friday night at Barclays Center, scoring 18 points, grabbing 12 rebounds, and notching three blocked shots. He dunked everything on one end and blocked it all on the other, giving the expectedly lifeless event a rare sense of competition on several different occasions. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t even selected to the game as a rookie.
5. LeBron James being LeBron James
There are several other plays from the weekend’s main event that stand out more than this one: Curry’s no-look lob to James Harden; Dirk Nowitzki’s first alley-oop jam in more than a decade; and a highlight reel full from Westbrook. But no single spectacle left a more lasting impression on us than when James got a defensive rebound and turned on the jets how only he could for a rim-rocking finish.
All aboard Freight Train James.
[Videos via NBA]