Nazim Trammell-Wells | Staff Writer
Team Giannis or Team LeBron?
That was the question that was asked for this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Queen City was festive – with performances by Meek Mill, J. Cole and others – as it was grateful to host the NBA’s best after being snubbed two years ago over a controversial bill that was passed in the state.
As Golden State Warriors superstar point guard Stephen Curry is from Charlotte, he hosted many events. Despite the results, the weekend was a great homecoming for Curry.
The weekend started off with the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. It was a competitive event but eventually ended out in a duel between the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young and the Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum.
When it looked like Young was going to win with an easy 3-point stroke, Tatum shot his ball from half-court.
“I was hoping Young would win so the Hawks would have something to show for their season,” Hampton junior Juwan Williams said. “Tatum’s shot looked fluky until it knocked Trae’s out of the way and banked in.”
It was a truly exhilarating contest for both those who were watching and those who were involved.
Next up on the itinerary was the 3-point contest. Announcers predicted that Seth Curry, Steph’s younger brother, would take the title. However, their guesses didn’t pan out as the finalists ended up being Steph Curry and Joe Harris.
Harris, a former University of Virginia star, went first and posted a score of 25. When Curry began, he nailed his first nine baskets before cooling off in racks four and five. On his crucial money-ball rack, he needed to hit all five to tie Harris but missed the third, which resulted in a victory for Harris.
The grand finale Saturday night was the dunk contest. In 2016, Zach Lavine and Aaron Gordon spoiled the nation with their dunk-a-thon, but many think the dunk contest still isn’t what it was.
“We haven’t had a good dunk contest since then,” Hampton junior Cameron Austin said. “They’re inconsistent, and the contestants miss too many before they make one.”
This year’s competition had many worthy competitors – Hamidou Diallo from the Oklahoma City Thunder, Miles Bridges from the hometown Charlotte Hornets, Dennis Smith Jr. from the New York Knicks and John Collins from the Atlanta Hawks.
After disappointing attempts from Collins and Bridges, the contest came down to Diallo and Smith, a North Carolina native.
Although Smith had the home-crowd advantage and even brought out North Carolina-based rapper J. Cole, he couldn’t top Diallo. Diallo had the dunk of the night. He jumped over Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal and put his elbow in the rim, a dunk that earned a perfect 50, giving Diallo the Sprite Slam Dunk trophy.
The main event also did not disappoint. The All-Star Game was a contest between Team Giannis and Team LeBron. Team Giannis came in as the underdog but jumped out to a big lead. Giannis, Khris Middleton and Paul George couldn’t miss early.