Winners & losers from NBA’s All-Star Weekend

Bob Donnan, USA Today Sports

With All-Star Weekend now in the books, it’s time to look forward to what promises to be a drama filled second half of the NBA season.

But before we do that, how about a look at what was a pretty awesome weekend of festivities in Toronto?

From The Splash Brothers putting on a show during the three-point contest to both Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon doing their best impersonations of a long gone era of amazing slam dunk contests, Saturday night lived up to its hype.

Then on Sunday, the game itself was about as entertaining as any in recent history. Records were shattered, respects were paid and Russell Westbrook took home his second consecutive All-Star Game MVP.

Here are your winners and losers from NBA’s All-Star Weekend.

Winner: Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry

As long as these two Splash Brothers are taking part in the three-point contest, no one else really stands much of a chance.

After Curry defeated Thompson in the finals last year, the lesser-known of this historic backcourt returned the favor, hitting his final six shots, including all the moneys balls on the last rack.

Phoenix Suns rookie Devin Booker was not much more than a spectator as the third player in the finals with Curry and Thompson. He started things off by scoring 16 points. Curry followed him up by going for 23 while hitting his first seven shots. At that point, it seemed Curry was destined to repeat.

Though, Thompson got hot at the right time and finished with a whopping 27 points to take home the hardware.

As many pointed out during Saturday night’s events, it’s simply unfair that these two players are on the same team. Their performances during the three-point contest was just another example of this.

Loser: Slam Dunk Contest judges

Zach LaVine may have put up one of the best dunks in the history of this contest. Unfortunately, a panel of judges including Shaq and Magic Johnson overlooked another young player in Aaron Gordon, who legitimately put up one of the best displays this contest has seen.

It’s all fun and games, but there’s no logical explanation for LaVine earning his second consecutive title. Come on, guys.

Winner: Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon

It’s rather obvious that the 2016 version of this contest was the best since Vince Carter flew through the air in Oakland back in 2000. Heck, this could have very well been the best contest since the height of the event during the Michael Jordan years in the 1980’s. That’s how good it was.

For Gordon, it was all about leaping over a six-foot tall mascot while going between the legs before jamming the ball home.

For LaVine, it as all about taking Jordan’s famous dunk from the free-throw line to a completely different level.

All in all, Saturday’s dunk contest didn’t disappoint after the Slash Brothers put up an awe-inspiring performance in the three-point contest.

Loser: Musical performers

Sting’s halftime performance was an utter mess. It seemed like the musical legend didn’t fully understand where he was performing. And in reality, the fans in Toronto didn’t seem too engaged in the whole performance.

“Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon? Is this really what we wanted to hear in between contests during All-Star weekend?

Much like the NFL during the Super Bowl, it really did seem that those in charge of entertainment for the All-Star Game were completely out of touch with their target audience.

The game was in Toronto. It”s the city that brought us Barenaked Ladies. Why not give that a chance instead of the dumpster fire we saw this weekend? And that doesn’t even take into account Nelly Furtado attempting to sing “O Canada.” Really?

Winner: Kobe Bryant

Kobe was honored with a five minute tribute prior to the opening tip on Sunday night. It’s the least the sport could do for a man that elevated the popularity of basketball more than any player since Michael Jordan.

The 18-time All-Star would then hit on 4-of-11 shots for 10 points while adding six rebounds and seven assists in a darn good overall performance in the game.

This weekend in Toronto acted as a massive pay of respect to the future Hall of Famer. And in reality, it was tremendous seeing all these greats pay tribute to Black Mamba.

That respect was extended further when Kobe left the court late in the game. Two of the three All-Stars from the best team in the Association showed us all just how much Bryant means to the game:


When stars on a rival team have this much admiration for another player, it shows just how much respect said player has gained throughout the years.

Loser: Defense

Basketball purists aren’t going to be too excited about what transpired Sunday night in Toronto. The Western Conference All-Stars put up a ridiculous 196 points in what was a record-setting performance.

In fact, the previous record was 155. This means that both the West and the East (173) topped the previous record. The 369 combined points topped the previous record of 303 set in 1987.

Paul George put up the second-most points in All-Star Game history (41) while breaking the previous record for three pointers made in a game (nine).

Meanwhile, the two teams combined for 51 made threes, 85 assists and just seven free throw attempts.

While the NFL receives legitimate criticism for a lack of defense in the Pro Bowl, the NBA’s All-Star Game acts as nothing more than a showcase. It knows what it is, and hasn’t strayed from that over the years. It might make defensive-minded fans upset, but it is what it is.

Winner: The NBA

From Saturday night’s festivities to Sunday’s All-Star Game, the NBA put on one heck of a show. The Splash Brothers dominated the three-point contest, two youngsters made their names known during the dunk contest, and the Association did a tremendous job paying homage to Kobe in his final All-Star Game appearance.

The NBA simply doesn’t take itself too seriously during this weekend. That makes for all sorts of fun for everyone involved. Both MLB and the NFL should take note of this.

Loser: NBA on TNT

Too busy talking about stuff other than the game at hand, TNT failed miserably during the end of its broadcast. As reigning MVP Stephen Curry was seemingly prepared to run out the clock, the broadcast went away from game action, focusing on Paul George’s failed attempt at breaking the scoring record.

Then, this happened:

You saw that right. Curry nailed a half-court shot as time expired, something pretty much everyone watching the game was waiting for the whole night.

What makes this even more ridiculous, TNT never showed a replay of the shot. Instead, we had to turn to social media to see it. Talk about an epic fail.