There are few better ways to celebrate the revival of the great city of New Orleans other than to have it play host to the fifty-seventh annual NBA All-Star Game.
This year’s All-Star Game featured some of the greatest athletes in the world coming together to celebrate community, athleticism, and showmanship.
The hype exploded as soon as the starters of the game were announced on NBA.com.
Throughout the previous couple months, fans were able to vote online for their favorite players.
Those with the most votes earned a starting spot on the squad. The remaining players would be chosen based on their performance up to that point in the season by a committee of coaches.
Kevin Garnett, power forward for the Boston Celtics, lead all vote getters with 2,399,148 votes while Kobe Bryant, shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, lead the west in votes with 2,004, 940 votes.
The game tipped off on Sunday, February 17th, 2008 exclusively on TNT. The game turned into an act of revenge as the East beat the West 134-128.
The West, lead by Kobe Bryant, routed the East 153-132 during the previous year in Las Vegas.
This year it was all about Cleveland Cavaliers small forward LeBron James, who received MVP honors. James, who tallied 27 points, 8 boards, and 9 assists, was just shy of a triple-double.
The East’s Ray Allen of the Boston Celtics came off the bench to lead all scorers with 28 points.
The West just fell short of a spectacular performance with last year’s MVP Kobe Bryant only accumulating 0 points, 1 board, and 0 assists.
Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets, Brandon Roy of the Portland Trailblazers, and Amare Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns each led the West in scoring with 18 points.
The previous day gave the fans an opportunity to truly be a part of the All-Star action.
Saturday, February 16th was the day the players were really able to show off their talents.
The Skills Challenge, 3-Point Shootout, and Slam Dunk Contest, were some of the more anticipated events of the weekend.
The Skills Challenge allowed top point guards to show their stuff in a game situation obstacle course that included passing, dribbling, and shooting in difficult situations.
Out of the star-studded participation of Jason Kidd, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul, Deron Williams of the Utah Jazz came out the winner with the best time.
The stage then turned to the long range shooters of the 3-Point Shootout. Toronto’s Jason Kapono defended his crown against Dirk Nowitzki and Daniel Gibson by accumulating 25 points, tying the record for most points in a round.
Kapono is the first back to back winner of the contest since Peja Stojakovic won the title in 2002 and 2003.
The final Saturday night event was the anticipated Slam Dunk Contest.
The participants for this year’s event included Toronto’s Jamario Moon, Minnesota’s Gerald Green, Memphis’ Rudy Gay, and Orlando’s Dwight Howard.
This year’s contest was unlike any other as a new voting system was incorperated into determining which participant would move on to the final round.
The fans were allowed to text in their votes and pick the dunker they believed deserved to advance.
In the end it was Dwight Howard with a very controvesial dunk who came out the winner.
Howard’s final attempt included himself wearing a Superman costume and jumping from just inside the free-throw line.
Much controversy arose as to whether the dunk should actually be counted as a dunk considering that Howard was so high above the rim that he simply threw the ball through the basket and did not actually make contact with the rim.
The actual NBA All-Star weekend took off on February 15, 2008 with the dunk filled T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam. The sophomores edged the rookies 136-109.
Daniel Gibson, sophomore and starting point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers, led all scorers with 33 points shooting 11 for 20 from beyond the arc.
Rudy Gay contributed another 22 points for the sophomores.
Kevin Durant, a top candidate for Rookie of the Year, led all rookies in scoring with 23 points.
Atlanta forward Al Horford chipped in with 19 points and 7 rebounds and Sheldon Williams led all rebounders with 10.