Many memorable moments were made this weekend, so whats the breakdown of these big events in the basketball world?
Many memorable moments were made this weekend, so what’s the breakdown of these big events in the basketball world?

From Collabs to Controversy

N.B.A. All-Star Weekend

From Friday, February 16 to Sunday, February 18, the National Basketball Association (NBA) hosted its annual All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana. The main highlights of the weekend included the three-point contest between NBA and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) stars Stephen Curry and Sabrina Ionescu, the slam dunk contest, and the All-Star Game itself.

Three-Point Contest: The NBA and WNBA Collide
On Saturday night, Curry triumphed over Ionescu in the three-point contest by three points.

The Golden State star and NBA’s all-time three-point king beat Ionescu 29–26 in the Curry vs. Ionescu competition at All-Star Saturday night, the first such formal collaboration between an NBA and WNBA player during the league’s weekend showcase.

Ionescu won the WNBA’s three-point shootout at its All-Star weekend last year with a record 37 points, smashing Curry’s NBA shootout mark of 31 points. From there, a challenge was thrown down and the plan was concocted for them to meet at All-Star weekend.

Yet, going into the game, much controversy arose because Ionescu had the advantage of WNBA regulations, including a smaller ball and shorter shooting distance than the NBA. However, Ionescu switched to shooting from the NBA line leading up to the game to even the playing field.

Nevertheless, both stars, dominant in their respective leagues, put up impressive performances, with Ionescu putting up a tough challenge against Curry, widely regarded as the greatest three-point shooter of all time. Meanwhile, Curry’s victory added yet another accolade to his already-renowned legacy.

Curry and Ionescu may team up again next year during All-Star weekend in San Francisco. The NBA and WNBA fans loved their collaboration with the live viewers totaling over five million viewers while the two giants dueled, with the Saturday night duel being the most watched All-Star Saturday Night in four years.

Slam Dunk Contest: A Possible Fix?
After the three-point shootout between Ionescu and Curry, three NBA players and one G League player participated in the slam dunk contest, including defending champion Mac McClung and All-Star Jaylen Brown.

Both McClung and Brown emerged as finalists after achieving the highest scores in the previous rounds, having to compete against one another in the final round to crown a champion. Despite Brown’s impressive dunks, McClung dunked over retired NBA player Shaquille O’Neal, standing at seven feet and one inch, to earn a perfect score and win back-to-back dunk contests.

After the game, many fans began to think that the contest was rigged and that the judges let Brown get to the finals even though other contestants’ dunks seemed more impressive than his. For example, for Brown’s second dunk of the first round, he was supposed to jump over popular streamer Kai Cenat and dunk the ball with his eyes closed. However, in the actual dunk, he didn’t close his eyes until he landed, and he also jumped over someone sitting in a chair, a small feat in comparison to many other dunks. Yet, Brown still received some of the highest scores in the entire contest, raising suspicions about whether his finalist placement was determined from the start.

Many attribute the judge’s supposed push to include Brown in the finals since he was an All-Star, and the NBA had been lacking the presence of such star players in previous dunk contests, further resulting in decreased viewership. So if a star made the finals, the NBA possibly hoped to encourage more stars to participate in the future, a strategic tactic to gain interest and viewers.

Still, the perceived inaccuracies of the judges in scoring the dunks only served as a point of controversy through the night. Although a deserving competitor won in the end, the bias present only prevents stars from wanting to compete in a “predetermined” contest in the future.

All-Star Game: A Plethora of Scoring or a Lack of Competitiveness?
Finally, to end off the weekend, the NBA All-Star Game was played on Sunday night, putting the best players from the Eastern and Western conferences in a face-to-face battle in a regular NBA game format.

After four quarters of play, the Eastern Conference beat the Western Conference, with an all-time high score of 211–186, and Milwaukee Bucks player Damian Lillard was awarded MVP.

Once regarded as a competitive game meant to attract viewers at the sight of seeing their favorite players play head-on, in recent years, the All-Star has only decreased in viewership, with this All-Star Game totaling only five and a half million viewers, the second lowest in league history, only passing last year’s game by a million viewers.

Such a decrease in viewership can be attributed to the lack of interest in the players themselves, with no players taking part in defense and many top players barely playing. Someone might look at the score and think that the game was worth watching, but in reality, such a high score is only due to the abundance of uncontested shots both teams took. Overall, the game to many was unwatchable due to the lack of competitiveness between both teams, turning a game between the best of the best into a snoozefest.

The uncompetitiveness of the game raises questions regarding the actions the NBA should take to increase viewership, whether it be changing the format, providing incentives for players to try to win, or getting rid of the game as a whole.

Despite the controversy and negative criticism surrounding the weekend, the weekend remains a focal point that many basketball fans look forward to, especially with the emergence of new events and game formats along with exciting collaborations that seek to provide memorable moments for fans for years to come.

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