For basketball fans, the NBA All-Star Game is like Christmas in February

By Nicole Ganglani | Photo from NBA

Ano meron? What are people raving about in the NBA right now, championship na ba?” my good ol’ friend curiously asked me while looking at the TV playing the All-Star Rising Stars Game at a gastropub in Makati last Saturday.

“No, it’s the All-Star Weekend! It’s kind of like a big deal in the NBA. It’s the weekend where the best of the best go at it,”  I replied, enthusiasm evident in my voice depicting my excitement for the annual event.

This past weekend, you might have noticed that the NBA scene was a tad different. For basketball fans, specifically those who follow the NBA religiously, it’s a weekend full of exciting festivals that we don’t normally seebut only in February. It’s the weekend where we get to witness creative slam dunks never performed before, where we identify who the best three point shooter is and of course when we get to see an action-packed game between our favorite basketball heroes.

The NBA All-Star Weekend has always been a classic. It’s been part of the NBA for a good 68 years and it’s the weekend where fans are treated to thrilling basketball festivities. For me, the All-Star Weekend was and is always about memories; it was when Vince Carter showcased his unforgettable dunk, when Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal reconciled to win co-MVPs, and when you witnessed a Dwyane Wade to Lebron James lob one last time. It’s like that “once a year” feeling you get during Christmas when you know all the festivities won’t last forever.

“Think of it this way: It’s like watching a movie with all your favorite actors as part of the cast. It’s something like that, except the movie is a basketball game and the actors are your favorite basketball players,” I added to our conversation while munching on a platter of nachos.

For us hoop fans, we know we don’t see Lebron James and Kevin Durant team up every day or highlights such as a Steph Curry to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s alley-oop. It’s special because of the memories, tradition, and highlights that come with it just like what this year’s festivities gave us.

This year’s All-Star Weekend at Charlotte gave us a classic J. Cole appearance not once but twice; one where he even attempted to dunk (let’s just imagine it actually went in).  The excitement between the Curry versus Curry three-point shootout leading to Saturday’s competition (Manila time) was subpar but it turns out Joe Harris was the better three-point shooter that night (yes, someone other than Steph). Kyle Kuzma, the Rising Stars’ MVP, exploded for 35 points, six rebounds, and two assists in just 22 minutes, showing us all why the Laker forward can’t be traded.

And finally, the All-Star Game, the game we all looked forward to delivered a classic showdown between Team Lebron and Team Giannis where the former took home bragging rights. But then again, it doesn’t really matter who winswhat did was seeing my favorite players all gathered in the hardwood go at it, giving us all a remarkable matchup.

We saw Damian Lillard at his finest, hitting those tie-breaking three pointers from the parking lot. Kevin Durant being Kevin Durant and winning the MVP award he deserved; D’angelo Russell, Ben Simmons, and Karl Anthony Towns gave us a preview of the future while Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade’s final goodbyes to the All-Star Game broke our hearts. Steph treated us all with an impressive dunk to end the game and stars like Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Lebron James highlighted the game with their swagger on the court.

It’s the “woaah what a move!” and “ohhhh damn” plays we live for. That’s what the NBA All -Star Game is all about and why we fans love it so much.