The game’s brightest stars collided, and it was explosive.
From the live draft before tip-off, all the way to the game’s furious finish, the 2023 NBA All-Star extravaganza lived up to the billing. Well, it’s hard for the main event of the midseason celebration to underwhelm. Sure, the show had its dry bits, but in the end, we were still entertained.
With that in mind, we listed down the moments that made this year’s most star-studded basketball affair one to remember.
Giannis messes up LeBron’s draft board
Team captain Giannis Antetokounmpo made a surprise first pick among the reserves by selecting Dame Lillard. Even his counterpart LeBron James was caught off guard by the Greek Freak’s unexpected move. The King, acknowledged that Giannis did manage to mess up his strategy. Ultimately, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar went with Anthony Edwards to counter.
Giannis messes up his own draft board
Giannis and ‘Bron were supposed to select among the reserves first before they could choose from the starters, but the Milwaukee Bucks MVP attempted to get a starter in Ja Morant for his second overall pick. The 6-foot-11 behemoth looked like a kid that was caught eating a cookie before dinner when Ernie Johnson, the draft mediator, called him out.
Salt Lake City, Utah was the host of the 2023 ASG. So, they chose a Utah-born artist to sing the national anthem. Jewel, who was most popular during the 90s, was bestowed the honor. Performing a folky rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner," she rose to the occasion.
Honoring Karl Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and LeBron James
At halftime, the top three scorers in NBA history were called up on stage. By order of place in the scoring ladder, Utah Jazz legend Karl Malone, five-time champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and four-time MVP LeBron were given their special segment during the break. It was fitting given the event was held in Utah and LeBron just recently passed Kareem to be the NBA’s all-time scoring king.
The target score was 182. Team LeBron was on the heels of Team Giannis, but Dame Time made sure no comebacks would happen. The face of the Portland Trail Blazers took matters into his own hands and nailed a game-winning three to end the game, 184-175.
The third quarter turned out to be a magnificent long-distance exhibition. Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, and Joel Embiid showed their vast range. But none of them, outdid Jayson Tatum who exploded for an All-Star record 27 points in the period. Before heading into the final frame, JT and Jaylen Brown played a little game of one-on-one wherein the former shut down his Boston Celtics teammate. Tatum is Boston’s alpha, alright.
In the end, Tatum copped another record by putting up 55 points, surpassing Anthony Davis’ 52 back in 2017. With a couple of milestones, and the win in the bag, the 24-year-old small forward hoisted up the Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP trophy. Must be the new shoes.
If there ever was a low point during the match, it would have to be LeBron hurting his hand in the first half. The King hit 13 points but failed to return for the final two frames of the game. Still, it was a great night in Utah, with Tatum taking up the cudgels for the entire showcase.