Last weekend was full of action as NBA All Star weekend took over Toronto in a star-studded, history-making, record breaking event. The Toronto Raptors global ambassador also made his presence known in the city by using the hype around the weekend to promote his upcoming album Views from the Six.
Even though he didn’t perform, the weekend was still The Drake Show. And who could blame him? This was the first time in history that the All Star game was held in Toronto, and the city did not disappoint! Drake was involved in all the festivities. He coached the Celebrity All Star game Friday night against Kevin Hart, he got plenty of shout outs and had his music featured before dunks on Saturday night, and he greeted each All Star as they were introduced on Sunday before the game. He even received the key to the city from Toronto Mayor John Tory.
Tickets for the All Star Game started at around $1,500 when they were first released and All Star Saturday Night started at $630. If you were lucky enough to attend either of these events, you witnessed history in the making.
The Three-Point Contest featured incredible talent and Klay Thompson took the trophy from his teammate and reigning champ/MVP Steph Curry with a near perfect performance.
The always highly anticipated dunk contest started with relatively underwhelming performances. The crowd wasn’t really into it until reigning champ Zach LaVine went to defend his title. There were really only two players competing in this contest and Aaron Gordon gave Zach LaVine a run for his money as the two battled it out in an unprecedented three sudden death championship rounds. The judges kept awarding perfect scores and the crowd was loving every second of it.
This weekend is unique to other All Star games because many want to be there or watch it on TV. The NFL Pro Bowl showcases whoever decides to show up and no one really cares what happens. Tom Brady rejected a free trip to Hawaii because he just didn’t want to go. The Pro Bowl comes and goes, and despite the popularity of the NFL, the event never seems to capture much interest.
At NBA All Star weekend however, all players were present and even those who weren’t invited to participate still came out to be part of the show and experience the excitement firsthand. Not to mention this was in Toronto where the weather was about -24 degrees F with windchill. According to NBA.com, the events drew around 7.6 million viewers from around the world as well as plenty of high profile celebrities.
The NBA does what other leagues fail to achieve when it comes to All Star games. It’s not just an exhibition game, it’s a whole weekend-long event. They make the host city the hottest place to be, not only for basketball reasons, but for charity events, celebrity appearances, and exclusive parties.
This year’s game was extra special because Kobe Bryant got a tribute from players who came before and after him in an emotional video highlighting his career. His 18th and final All Star appearance was a fun and memorable night with nothing but respect toward the veteran guard. I can easily say this was one of the best All Star weekends I have ever seen and the bar has been set even higher for future years.
The All Star game itself of course featured zero defense, ridiculously high scoring, and plenty of showboating. The final score was 196 West, 173 East and they broke the record for most points scored in a game. Russell Westbrook took the MVP trophy for a second consecutive year and Kobe received a roaring ovation as he exited the game.
Next year, All Star weekend is set to be in Charlotte, NC and we can probably expect an appearance from Cam Newton and his teammates sitting courtside.