Three biggest takeaways from NBA All-Star Weekend

The 2020 NBA All-Star weekend was one of the best ever, maybe the best. From the incredible Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan memories that flooded the United Center to all the rest of the festivities, the new and improved All-Star weekend will be one that’s remembered forever. 

With so many iconic moments to choose from, here are some of the moments that will stick with fans for a long time.

NBA delivers emotional tributes to Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, and David Stern

Coming into the weekend, everyone was looking forward to how the NBA would pay tribute to Kobe and Gianna Bryant, as well as the late David Stern. 

Despite the high expectations, the NBA delivered a show that was beyond impressive. Magic Johnson addressed the crowd on the impact Kobe and David Stern had on his life, the NBA and the world. Then during halftime, Chicago’s own Chance the Rapper performed with his friends Quavo, Lil Wayne and DJ Khaled.

The best moment, for me and many others, was the touching performance and tribute from Jennifer Hudson. That moment is one that will forever stop me in my tracks and send a chilling sensation through my body. 

To be fair, there truly were countless moments that offered goosebumps to not only basketball fans but to all people. In a way, it seems fitting considering Kobe Bryant’s impact was more than just on the court. He affected millions across the world in so many different ways. The NBA understood this, and they were able to execute a brilliant ceremony that showcased Bryant’s importance.

Chicago has now hosted the two best dunk contests ever

The NBA All-Star game hasn’t been back to Chicago since 1988. The best part about the ‘88 All-Star weekend was the dunk contest, without a doubt. 

It’s regarded as the best and most iconic dunk contest ever, with performances from stars including Spud Webb, Clyde Drexler, Dominique Wilkins and Michael Jordan. And when big names come around, usually the big moments follow, especially when the GOAT is involved. 

Jordan (in his home city) would go on to win the ‘88 dunk contest with his gravity-defying dunk from the free-throw line that is one of the most memorable moments in the history of basketball. 

This year’s dunk contest didn’t have the same big-time names as 1988 but some would argue it had better dunks. Aaron Gordon and Derrick Jones Jr. put on displays of athleticism that genuinely might be some of the most impressive feats in professional sports history.

The final showdown between the two would go multiple rounds before Gordon was robbed (again) of the title. It was especially crazy because Gordon’s insane off-the-side-of-the-backboard, 360-windmill dunk will forever be one of the greatest dunks I’ve ever seen. 

But props to Jones Jr. too, who was just as deserving of the win with his never-seen-before dunks that contained power and freakish athleticism. All-in-all, it’s the fans in Chicago who are the real winners once again as they have been lucky enough to witness the two greatest dunk contests ever. Maybe the NBA should just consider moving All-Star weekend permanently to the Windy City. 

New All-Star Game format

A lot has been said about the new and improved layout of the All-Star game this season. Most, if not all, of the early reviews, have been positive from players and fans after some are calling it “the greatest All-Star game ever.”   

New this year, the two teams were competing to win thousands of dollars for the captain’s desired charity. The game also didn’t feature a game clock in the fourth quarter and saw the game finish with the winning team at 157 points.

The changes were to honor Bryant, and the players certainly made the Mamba proud on Sunday. The Mamba Mentality showed up in the fourth quarter as things began to get intense. Multiple controversial calls down the stretch in the game had most of the stars heated. Bryant surely would’ve been proud to have witnessed the top players in the NBA all competing their hearts out. 

Even though some might disagree with me, I think the way the game ended at the free-throw line is the cherry on top of the entire weekend. 

What better way to honor Kobe than to close the weekend with Los Angeles Laker Anthony Davis at the line. Davis, a native of Chicago, was Kobe Bryant’s replacement in the 2013 All-Star Game during his rookie season. 

The Hollywood ending gets even better when you realize the history Bryant has at the charity stripe. Whether it was scoring the first and last points of his NBA career, the final point of his 81-point game in 2006, or making two free throws after rupturing his Achilles in 2013, Kobe’s greatness was never once given to him, he always had to earn it from the free-throw line.