NBA All-Star Weekend: What We Loved and Hated

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Is there any reason the National Basketball Association ever holds the All-Star Weekend outside of New Orleans? After a foray into Houston for 2013, the unofficial midpoint of the basketball season returned to the Big Easy, and the results were spectacular. Even if some of the events like the dunk contest seemed mishandled in execution and no one really watched the skills contest anyway, the games that bookmark the weekend always seem to bring out some of the most entertainingly lazy defense and corresponding offensive wizardry of the year. The games were so much fun it was possible to ignore the sleeved jerseys that the league insists on forcing players to wear and fans to endure.

With a plethora of high-profile guests like Spike Lee, Wolf Blitzer, and Kendrick Lamar in the crowd, not to mention NBA luminaries and Hall of Famers Bill Russell, Dominique Wilkins, Magic Johnson, and Hakeem Olajuwon in the crowd, the atmosphere walked a weird line between gaudy and electric, just like every other All-Star game worth mentioning. As Russell was celebrating his 80th birthday on Sunday, he was spotlighted by Johnson, who got the crowd to sing Russ — either the best or second-best player of all time, depending on how you feel about Michael Jordan – ”Happy Birthday.” For a basketball legend that was disrespected and under-appreciated by his own fans in his prime, it was a moving gesture.

And, of course, there was the small matter of a record-breaking All-Star Game, a new three-point contest winner, and a repeating skills champion. That all happened. There’s also the small matter of the New Orleans arena being the Smoothie King Center, which is the best name for an arena ever. Keep the All-Star Weekend within the Smoothie King — it’s the right thing to do.

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