NBA All-Star winners and losers: LeBron James stays perfect as captain; Slam Dunk Contest judges fail again

The 2021 NBA All-Star experience was as close to typical as you might pretty anticipate, nonetheless very like every completely different sporting event that has taken place throughout the last yr, points merely felt barely off.

Instead of a extreme stage of enjoyment, a variety of avid gamers expressed apprehension about gathering in Atlanta. The skills competitions and All-Star Sport occurred over the course of some hours as against some days. There have been unbelievable feats of expertise and athleticism, nonetheless the first reactions acquired right here inside the kind of fake crowd noise. The actual “ooohs” and “aaahs” have been sorely missed.

It wasn’t all harmful, though. TNT’s All-Star broadcast delivered some entertaining moments, and the NBA devoted a whole lot of hundreds of {{dollars}} in the direction of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and COVID-19 support. Very like the widespread season itself, you would probably uncover transient, nice stretches of normalcy — even when the strangeness of actuality inevitably acquired right here dashing again.

Sooner than NBA teams resume play, let’s break down crucial winners and losers from Sunday’s All-Star festivities.

MORE: Best highlights from 2021 All-Star Game

NBA All-Star winners

LeBron James

Four appearances as an All-Star captain, 4 All-Star Sport wins. James did such a superb job establishing the Crew LeBron roster that his squad crushed Crew Durant even when he solely scored Four components in decrease than 13 minutes of movement. 

“I hope that they allow me to retire from being an All-Star captain, so I can retire with a perfect 4-Zero report,” James talked about all through his postgame press conference. “I’m going to take care of that perpetually. Nevertheless we’ll merely see what happens. I on a regular basis try to decide on the right crew, and I’ve been lucky ample for Four years to pick out the right crew. Guys exit and compete and play to win. I’ve been on the worthwhile side of all 4.”

James gave shoutouts to his teammates on Twitter after the win, along with All-Star Sport MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who suggested James he has a future as a standard supervisor. Onerous to argue with the outcomes.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Speaking of “The Greek Freak,” how about that stat line? Antetokounmpo accomplished with 35 components on 16-of-16 taking photos, setting the All-Star Game record for a lot of makes and not utilizing a miss. 

Previous the numbers, it appeared like Antetokounmpo was having the time of his life.

“You perceive, like if you start having pleasure and you don’t worry in regards to the finish results of the game, the whole thing takes care of itself,” Antetokounmpo talked about. “I think about fear and pleasant cannot go collectively. It’s each one or the alternative. This yr I’ve chosen for it to be pleasant. Every recreation I step on the flooring, pleasant. Pregame, pleasant. With my teammates, pleasant. I have to have spherical my crew, pleasant, energy.”

Be like Giannis. On a regular basis choose pleasant over fear.

Mike Conley

Given the Jazz’s report and Conley’s effectivity through the first half of the season, it felt as though this was his best (and possibly final) shot to lastly earn that elusive All-Star nod. He didn’t make the cut back initially, nonetheless Devin Booker’s hurt opened the door for the 33-year-old.

Now we solely introduce him as “NBA ALL-STAR MIKE CONLEY.” Come on. How are you going to not be blissful for this man?

Prolonged differ 3-point taking photos

Stephen Curry, who gained the 3-point Contest earlier throughout the night, joined Damian Lillard in putting on an outrageous All-Star Sport taking photos present.

Cue the footage.

Curry and Lillard each went eight of 16 from previous the arc with Lillard draining the 3-pointer that ended the exhibition recreation. 

“I consider with me and Steph being two guys that shoot quite a lot of threes, we shoot deep threes, we play an thrilling recreation,” Lillard talked about. “A pair images can change the game like throughout the second quarter of the game tonight, it was shut, and then in two and a half minutes it was like three, three, three, three, three, and it was a 20-point win in 1 / 4.

“It was pleasant. It was thrilling merely to run spherical available on the market with a person like that, and that’s what makes All-Star Weekend All-Star Weekend.”

Nikola Jokic’s goofiness

So we have now acquired Jokic dancing.

We’ve got moreover acquired Jokic talking about not getting an alley-oop transfer off the backboard.

And, in truth, we have now acquired Jokic taking Giannis’ trophy and pretending he is the true MVP.

“The Joker,” definitely. Nice.

Robert Covington’s HBCU delight

Covington, a Tennessee State Faculty graduate, is the NBA’s solely current HBCU alum, so naturally that side of the All-Star events meant a really perfect deal to him. He was seen rocking a Tennessee State jersey for the Experience Drawback.

Further importantly, Covington launched he will be giving $25,000 scholarships to Michael Thompson and Micahlea Njie, every of whom are pupil athletes at Tennessee State. 

“I was there sooner than and I in no way had anybody like this to basically make that change and have that probability,” Covington talked about. “That’s me using my platform. I actually like Tennessee State.”

Successfully carried out, RoCo.

NBA All-Star losers

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons

Embiid and Simmons have been not available for the All-Star Game in accordance with the NBA’s nicely being and safety suggestions. Every avid gamers reportedly visited a barber who examined constructive for COVID-19, forcing them to remain isolated of their resort rooms sooner than touring again to Philadelphia.

As of Sunday night, it was unclear if Embiid and Simmons will miss a variety of video video games following the All-Star break.

“They actually really feel good. They every clearly wished to play,” 76ers and Crew Durant coach Doc Rivers talked about. “We’re upset. Every of them, their largest concern will be if they could play the first two video video games after we get again. So we have no idea the reply to that however. That’s going to be really mandatory for us. It may be highly effective to start the second half of the yr and not have each one.”

Luka Doncic

How powerful was Doncic’s displaying throughout the Experience Opponents? He acquired overwhelmed so badly by Domantas Sabonis that Doncic’s private Mavericks teammate, Jalen Brunson, publicly recognized as him out.

Within the occasion you are an All-NBA participant and you don’t escape the first spherical, then the tweets shall be fired off. These are the foundations.

Slam Dunk Contest judges

The Slam Dunk Contest scoring system is a mess.

Last yr, the event ended in controversy when Aaron Gordon obtained a 47 for dunking over Celtics center Tacko Fall. This time spherical, Cassius Stanley acquired a 44 for his opener, a between-the-legs jam that appeared superior to the first makes an try of the alternative people.

“I consider my dunk was pretty darn good, and the judges thought it was the underside dunk of the spherical,” Stanley talked about. “That is what it is. It’s an opinionated issue. … Nearly everyone spherical me thought I acquired a 50.”

Have to set a extreme bar for a 50? OK, optimistic. That’s incredible. Nevertheless that isn’t what occurred proper right here.

Magic Johnson is just not going to face for this!

The cloud hanging over the whole thing

At his All-Star press conference on Saturday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver started with an announcement explaining why the league moved forward with its All-Star plans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve got sought to hunt out the right steadiness between the nicely being and safety of our avid gamers, the neighborhood that’s involved in producing NBA basketball, and in truth our followers, along with the monetary pursuits as successfully of our neighborhood,” Silver talked about. “Add into that social justice factors. So all of that has been on our ideas since just about a yr previously after we shut down the NBA. … We actually really feel we have now struck the appropriate steadiness proper right here, on the lookout for the pursuits of everyone involved.”

Silver has a tricky job. The financial have an effect on of not holding an All-Star weekend (or night, on this case) would have been important. The NBA seen a possibility to use this stage to promote causes that matter to its executives, coaches and avid gamers. Maybe LeBron was bored, nonetheless for a first-time All-Star like Conley, this experience was specific.

Nonetheless, it was onerous to not watch the revealed with out periodically questioning whether or not or not any of this stuff must be occurring. The Embiid-Simmons state of affairs didn’t flip proper right into a superspreader event, however it might have. Players went alongside for the journey, nonetheless quite a lot of them weren’t exactly pumped about it.

The darkish cloud didn’t smash all of the pleasant, however it did carry the enjoyment difficulty down only a few notches. Let’s hope subsequent yr’s All-Star festivities see additional daylight.

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