Review of the 2021 NBA All-Star Game


Dale Zanine, USA Today Sports

All-Star Game MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Jackson McCrae '23

The entirety of All-Star Weekend took place on March 7 with the league’s best battling against each other to try to win money for charity. First was the Skills Challenge, followed by the three-point contest, and then the All-Star Game. The Dunk Contest took place at halftime. Team LeBron ended up winning the All-Star Game handily, 170-150, mainly behind the stellar play of All-Star Game MVP, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. While Team LeBron took home the hardware, the real winner was the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), receiving $750,000 as part of Team LeBron’s win.

The starters for Team LeBron consisted of LeBron James himself, the aforementioned Giannis Antetokounmpo, Golden State guard Stephen Curry, Dallas guard Luka Doncic, and Denver center Nikola Jokic. Off the bench, Team LeBron had Boston guard Jaylen Brown, Clippers forward Paul George, Utah center Rudy Gobert, Portland guard Damian Lillard, Phoenix guard Chris Paul, and Indiana forward Domantas Sabonis. Ben Simmons was also selected to play but was forced to sit the game out after a possible COVID exposure.

Team LeBron was mainly led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, winner of the Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP Award. Antetokounmpo finished the game with 35 points, shooting a perfect 16 of 16 from the field, including three rare three-pointers, one of which was a step back. Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard also chipped in with 28 and 32 respectively, and put in several ridiculous threes, including the eventual game winner from Lillard. Jaylen Brown had 22 points and Paul George finished with 17.

Team Durant ran out a starting lineup of Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving, Washington guard Bradley Beal, Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, Boston forward Jayson Tatum, and New Orleans forward Zion Williamson. Off the bench, Team Durant had Brooklyn guard James Harden, Utah guards Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley, Chicago guard Zach Lavine, New York forward Julius Randle, and Orlando center Nikola Vucevic. Kevin Durant did not play due to a lingering hamstring injury, Philadelphia center Joel Embiid was ruled out due to COVID restrictions, and Lakers forward Anthony Davis was ruled out due to injury. Davis was replaced by Devin Booker, who also got injured and was replaced by Mike Conley.

Frankly, Team Durant just looked lost from the start. After Stephen Curry hit a three from near half court in the first few minutes, and renowned dunker Zion Williamson missed three straight dunks, it was obvious the game was going to go in Team LeBron’s favor. However, Brooklyn guards Kyrie Irving and James Harden did not go down without a fight, posting 24 and 21 points, respectively. Bradley Beal scored a cool 26, and Jayson Tatum also dropped in 21 in the effort.

While the game is the headliner of the weekend, the events tend to be the most fun to watch. This year, it was Domantas Sabonis beating out a crowded field to take home the Skill Challenge, upsetting favorite Luka Doncic. There were no surprises in the three-point challenge however, as Stephen Curry put up two ridiculous shooting performances to eventually win the competition on his last shot. The dunk contest was a bit of a letdown from years past, but it was eventually Portland guard Anfernee Simons who was named best dunker, winning with an array of dunks, included grabbing a basketball from high off the backboard and dunking it, recreating an iconic Tracy McGrady dunk, and attempting to (but not quite succeeding in) kissing the rim on a dunk.