For the past couple NBA seasons, NBA fans have eagerly anticipated a Finals showdown between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. While last night’s All-Star Game wasn’t exactly for the Trophy, you couldn’t tell by looking at the demeanor of the game’s two best players. Both stars had performances for the ages, but it was the Black Mamba who would strike last. Holding off a late charge by the East, the West pulled away late to win 148-143.
With the hot hand early, Kobe put the Western All-Stars in control from the jump. By halftime, Kobe had netted 21 points and the West led by 12 points. The 13-time All-Star “slowed down” in the second half, managing “just” 16 points, bringing him to 37 and five points shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s game record of 42. Bryant also recorded 14 rebounds, three assists and three steals on his way to being named MVP for a record-tying fourth time.
As great as Kobe was, LeBron certainly made it interesting late. With a sense of pride and urgency, LeBron turned the volume up, urging to his team that this “felt like a road game.” Showing how much the game meant to him, LeBron accomplished something that only one other player had done in an All-Star Game – mess around and get a triple-double. LeBron scored 29 points, pulled down 12 boards and dished out 10 assists in a big rally effort from the East. The only other player to have a triple-double in the All-Star Game? It starts with M and ends with ichael Jordan.
Other sensational performers in the All-Star game were forwards Amar’e Stoudemire and Kevin Durant. Stoudemire racked up 29 points and six rebounds for the East, while Durant scored the quietest 34 points you’ve ever seen. In fact, while Kobe was brilliant, it was Durant’s clutch shooting at the end that really put the game away for the West.
The game, which seemed to be heading for “dud” territory after the first half, proved exactly why the NBA has the best All-Star celebration. They have the best skills competitions, best musical performances and the All-Star Game typically becomes competitive at a point. The LeBron vs. Kobe duel on Sunday night was a great closing chapter in another successful All-Star Weekend for the NBA.
Here’s a comprehensive look at what every All-Star wore in Sunday’s game.
Al Horford tries to block Manu Ginobili in the Nike Air Max Fly By.
Amar’e Stoudemire finally ditches the Zoom Huarache Trainer, instead wearing a Nike Air Max Fly By PE for the game.
Blake Griffin greets the legendary Bill Russell while debuting the Nike Hyperdunk 2011 on the court.
Carmelo Anthony shoots in the All-Star colorway of his Jordan Melo M7.
Chris Bosh goes up strong in the Nike Air Max Hyperdunk 2010.
Chris Paul looks to make a play in the All-Star Jordan CP3.IV.
Deron Williams goes in for a layup wearing the Nike Zoom Hyperfuse Low.
Derrick Rose wore the All-Star adidas adiZero Rose in the first half of the game …
… and then switched into the adidas adiZero Rose 1.5 for the second half.
Dirk Nowitzki attempts a layup in the Nike Hyperdunk 2010.
Dwight Howard, wearing the All-Star adidas Superbeast, has the Bieber Fever.
Dwyane Wade with a picture-perfect dunk in the Air Jordan 2011.
The Eastern Conference starters all do LeBron’s signature chalk toss.
Joe Johnson shoots in the Jordan Evolution ’85.
Kevin Durant shoots wearing the All-Star Nike Zoom KD III.
Kevin Garnett celebrates the East’s rally in the All-Star ANTA KG1.
Kevin Love shoots in the PEAK Relentless.
Kobe Bryant with the reverse jam in the Nike Zoom Kobe VI All-Star.
LeBron James looking to make a play in the All-Star Nike Air Max LeBron 8 V/2.
Manu Ginobili attempts a reverse layup in the Nike Air Max Fly By.
Pau Gasol shoots in the Nike Hyperdunk 2010.
Paul Pierce lays it up in an All-Star colorway of his Nike Air Legacy 2.
Rajon Rondo blows past Gasol in the Nike Max Air BB 360 Low All-Star.
Ray Allen dribbles in a Player Exclusive colorway of the Air Jordan 2011.
Russell Westbrook shows off his hops in the Nike Zoom Hyperfuse.
Tim Duncan defends LeBron in the adidas adiPure.
Western Conference All-Stars
Eastern Conference All-Stars
images via ESPN
It was built to be an inevitable showdown between Celtics teammates Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, but in the end, Miami Heat sharpshooter James Jones emerged from the pack as the 2011 Three-Point Contest Champion. Jones scored 20 points in the final round to pull off the shocker against Allen and Pierce. With the win, Jones became the fourth member of the Miami Heat to win the three-point contest.
Kevin Durant and Boobie Gibson were almost historically bad, threatening Michael Jordan’s record low of five points by scoring six and seven points respectively. Golden State’s Dorell Wright finished fourth with 11 points.
Let’s take a look at what these long-range threats wore for the 2011 Three-Point Contest.
James Jones found his rhythm in teammate LeBron James’ Nike Air Max LeBron 8.
James receives his trophy wearing the Nike Air Max LeBron 8.
All-time three-point king Ray Allen shoots in a Player Exclusive colorway of the Jordan Evolution ’85.
Paul Pierce failed to defend his Three-Point Crown in the Nike Air Legacy 2.
Another look at Paul’s Air Legacy 2 Player Exclusive.
Kevin Durant couldn’t get it going in a new colorway of the Nike Zoom KD III.
Reflective of the Cavs season, Boobie Gibson drew a lot of iron in the Nike Zoom Hyperfuse.
Golden State’s Dorell Wright couldn’t get it going in PEAK’s Team Dynamic.
images via ESPN
It wasn’t as great as we thought it would be, but Blake Griffin put on a show Saturday night to become the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk Champion. It really speaks to how highly we think of somebody when they dunk over a car and we’re still left a little disappointed, but the reality was that Blake’s early misses were more appealing than the dunks he completed. Plus, you can’t roll a car on the court and just jump over the hood, right?
Though falling short in the contest, JaVale McGee may have been the most creative dunker of the night. Building on concepts originated by the great Larry Nance, McGee dunked two balls on two different hoops and then dunked three balls on one hoop. His creativity did come up short in the end, though, when he had to make a last-minute change to a dunk because Oklahoma’s Serge Ibaka completed something similar.
Speaking of Ibaka, not a bad showing from OKC’s big man. He certainly had the theatrics going for him, as he was led out of the tunnel by a parade of “NBA Africa” flags to complete a legit behind-the-line free-throw dunk. For a follow-up, Ibaka helped a youngster retrieve his stuffed animal by biting it off a prop on the rim during a dunk. Both dunks, however, were underscored at 45 and Ibaka was eliminated early.
Flying under the radar was Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, who may have actually completed the best dunk of the night. Coached by Darryl Dawkin’s suit, DeRozan completed a remix to J.R. Rider’s “East Bay Funk Dunk” and an extremely impressive one-handed reverse that scored a 50.
Overall, the Dunk Contest started off hot, but progressively got worse as the focus was put more on the gimmicks than the dunks. A lot of these NBA players will tell you that it’s hard to be creative because everything has been done, but that’s simply not true. YouTube is concrete proof that there are still incredible non-prop dunks that haven’t been seen in the NBA’s contest. That’s why DeRozan’s lob one-handed reverse sticks out – it was all about the dunk.
Below is a look at the sneakers worn in the Dunk Contest. Blake Griffin was said to be debuting the Nike Hyperdunk 2011, but settled for a similar colorway of the Air Max Fly By. “Air Congo” Serge Ibaka did his dunking in adidas’ “Sun” adiPure. DerMar DeRozan continued to wear iD colorways of the Nike Zoom Kobe VI. Lastly, JaVale McGee did an excellent job getting Chinese brand PEAK some recognition by wearing five different colorways of their Relentless kicks in the contest.
Blake Griffin with what Kenny Smith called the “Plan B” dunk in the Nike Air Max Fly By.
Blake Griffin pulls a Vince Carter in the Nike Air Max Fly By.
Blake hops the car wearing the Nike Air Max Fly By.
JaVale McGee dunks on two hoops in the “Wolverine”-inspired colorway of the PEAK Relentless.
McGee dunks three balls in the camouflage PEAK Relentless.
JaVale McGee salutes the friendship between the United States and China with national colorways of the PEAK Relentless.
A closer look at JaVale’s USA & China PEAK Relentless colorways.
McGee finished the contest wearing the “Truly Blessed” PEAK Relentless.
Serge Ibaka takes a bit out of Rumble, the Oklahoma City Thunder Mascot, in the “Sun” adidas adiPure.
It wasn’t as picturesque as MJ’s, but Ibaka completed a legit behind-the-line free-throw dunk in the adiPure.
DeMar DeRozan had perhaps the most impressive dunk of the night with this reverse in the Nike Zoom Kobe VI iD.
DeRozan rocks the Darryl Dawkins-named “Eastbay Funk Remix” in his Zoom Kobe VI iD.
images via ESPN
Getting this weekend’s All-Star festivities started last night was the BBVA Celebrity Game. Teams consisting of actors, musicians, politicians, WNBA players and retired NBA ballers represented both the Eastern and Western Conferences. The East squad was led by NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen and Coach Bill Walton, while singer Justin Bieber and Coach Magic Johnson provided leadership for the West. In the end, the Pippen factor proved to be the difference, as the six-time NBA Champion led the East to a 54-49 win.
Pippen looked less like old Scottie and more like the Scottie of old. Though it wasn’t exactly the competitive environment Pippen once thrived in, it was evident that the legend keeps himself in shape and spends some time in the gym keeping that stroke silky smooth. He led all scorers with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting, impressing Magic Johnson and all of the fans in attendance.
Unfortunately for Pippen, his fanbase consists of adults who were no match for the “Beliebers” when it came to fans voting for MVP. Despite his team coming up short, the pop sensation took home top honors with a really solid eight-point, four-assist and two-rebound performance. His shooting was a little off, though he did drain two three-pointers, but he displayed some skills on the court and earned a little respect.
The game won’t be considered for an ESPN Instant Classic airing anytime soon, but it was a fun night for the fans. It was certainly more enjoyable than those horrific green screen segments that somebody at ESPN thought would be a great idea. Poor Eric Gordon.
Here’s a recap of what some of the Celebrity Game participants wore last night.
Great to see these back on the court. Scottie Pippen was in vintage form wearing the Nike Air Pippen II.
Another look at the Hall of Famer in the Air Pippen II.
Tamika Catchings balls in the pinkfire Kay Yow Nike Hyperdunk 2010.
Musicians Common and Trey Songz duke it out wearing different colorways of the Nike Zoom Kobe VI.
Basketball Hall of Fame finalist Chris Mullin meets the Biebs in the Nike Zoom Hyperfuse Low.
Jason Sudeikis wearing the adidas adiPure
While having an increased vertical, Rob Kardashian apparently didn’t see any defensive enhancements in the “Banned” APL Concept 1.
Celebrity Basketball legend Michael Rapaport also hit the court in the Zoom Kobe VI
Lakers legend A.C. Green tries to contain Rapaport in the “Sun” adidas adiPure.
Game MVP Justin Bieber is hunched over from carrying the team on his back in the adidas Crazy 8.
Celebrate good times: Justin Bieber in the adidas Crazy 8, Romeo Miller in the Nike Zoom Hyperfuse Low, Trey Songz in the Nike Zoom Kobe VI and Jalen Rose wearing the Nike Zoom LeBron III.
images via ESPN
Grace. Finesse. Quickness. Determination. Bieber. After unjustly being shut out in last weekend’s Grammy Awards, pop singer Justin Bieber is finally bringing some hardware home – BBVA Celebrity Game MVP. Despite the fact that his team lost the game, Bieber overcame the odds in a performance that will go down in history alongside Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game,” Willis Reed’s Game 7 and Kobe Bryant’s 81 against Toronto.
The 16-year-old displayed handles, which along with his signature flowing locks, drew instant comparisons to two-time MVP Steve Nash. His low-to-the-ground dribble technique claimed the ankles of victims like Common and Nick Cannon. The crisp assists to NBA veteran A.C. Green were reminiscent of the Showtime Lakers and Bieber’s Celebrity Game Coach Magic Johnson. Justin’s three-point touch made me forget about Ray Allen’s recent achievement in an instant. Bieber is a throwback to when fundamentals ruled the hardwood, and we were all privileged to watch his brilliance.
With a stat line that boggles the mind of Fantasy Basketball aficionados, Bieber recorded eight points, four assists and two rebounds in 25 minutes. All while engaged in a verbal back-and-forth with crafty Celebrity Basketball veteran Michael Rapaport, who had no answers for Biebs.
A distant second in the MVP race was Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, who managed to score a measly 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
Bieber’s Celebrity Game performance came while wearing the newly re-released adidas Crazy 8 in the Sun/Regal Purple colorway. Formerly known as Kobe Bryant’s signature shoe, the Crazy 8 will now be linked to Justin’s nationally televised hoops debut for years to come. With adidas always looking for a little star power, is Bieber the next athlete to link up with the Three Stripes? Dwight, Derrick and Bieber would be as talented as any trio we’ve seen represent a brand in the basketball category. Fast don’t lie.
Check out a few visuals from Bieber’s historic night in Los Angeles. You can pick up the adidas Crazy 8 over at Eastbay.