2020 NBA All-Star Game
THE 2020 NBA All-Star Game to be held at the United Center in Chicago on February 17, 9:00 a.m. Manila time marks only the third time in NBA All-Star Game history (since 1951) that the Windy City plays host.
The first two came in 1973 and 1988, both at the Chicago Stadium.
The league had adopted an East vs. West format for the midseason spectacle from 1951 to 2017. It adopted a new one starting in 2018 where each of the two conferences’ leading vote-collector in All-Star balloting picks the other 22 All-Stars players (the other eight starters and the remaining 14 reserves) from a draft pool to form their own teams.
This year, the LA Lakers’ LeBron James topped the West in the voting and the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokuonmpo paced the East.
The composition of each team is as follows (alternately drafting in chronological order):
Starters – 1-Anthony Davis (James’ Lakers teammate), 3-Kawhi Leonard (LA Clippers – a surprise that Antetokuonmpo snubbed him at No. 2 for an international center), 5-Luka Doncic (Dallas) and 7-James Harden (Houston);
Reserves (James selected after Giannis in the second round) – 10-Damian Lillard (Portland), 12-Ben Simmons (Philadelphia, James’ co-client with Rich Paul’s Klutch Sports), 14-Nikola Jokic (Denver), 16-Jayson Tatum (Boston, LeBron remembers him all too well after he came up with a poster-worthy dunk off James in their first Celtics vs. Lakers meeting last month), 18-Chris Paul (Oklahoma City, James’ banana-boat friend and the NBA union president deserves an All-Star berth since the Thunder surprisingly continue to own a winning record despite the departure of Russell Westbrook last summer), 20-Russell Westbrook (Houston, his stock has slipped considerably that he was only the 20th selection) and 22-Domantas Sabonis (Indiana).
Starters – 2-Joel Embiid (Philadelphia), 4-Pascal Siakam (Toronto), 6-Kemba Walker (Boston) and 8-Trae Young (Atlanta, he made it to the starting lineup because he is popular among his peers even if he belongs to a team that is headed for the draft lottery in May);
Reserves (Antetokuonmpo chose first in the second round) – 9-Khris Middleton (Giannis’ Bucks mate, if LeBron can pick a teammate in Davis so why can’t he? Besides, Middleton just netted a career-high 51 points last January 28 vs. Washington with Giannis out ), 11-Bam Adebayo (Miami), 13-Rudy Gobert (Utah), 15-Jimmy Butler (Miami, he felt slighted in not being voted a starter but worse, he subsequently was only the No. 7 choice among the reserves), 17-Kyle Lowry (Toronto), 19-Brandon Ingram (New Orleans, from a losing team that led Washington’s high-scoring Bradley Beal and Phoenix’s gunslinger Devin Booker to question the decision of the head coaches to pick a loser for their respective conferences’ reserve lists) and 21-Donovan Mitchell (Utah).
Six pair of NBA teammates are playing on the same side are the Lakers’ James and Davis and the Rockets’ Harden and Westbrook for Team LeBron, and the Bucks’ Antetokuonmpo and Middleton, the Jazz’ Gobert and Mitchell, the Raptors’ Siakam and Lowry, and the Heat’s Adebayo and Butler for Team Giannis.
But what about NBA teammates performing on opposing All-Star sides, if not going one-on-one against each other, like the Celtics’ Tatum and Walker and the 76ers’ Embiid and Simmons?
While Team Giannis already owns four sets of NBA teammates, it also has Ben Mbala’s favorite NBA players from his native land Cameroon, Embiid and Siakam, starting together with the Bucks superstar.
In case you have forgotten:
In 2018, Team LeBron (James), then with Cleveland and representing the East, beat Team Stephen (Curry), then representing the West out of Golden State, via a 148-145 score. James took home his third All-Star MVP hardware in the game held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, USA.
In 2019, James was the West’s top vote-getter after hooking up with the Los Angeles Lakers while Milwaukee’s NBA MVP-bound Giannis Antetokuonmpo was his counterpart in the East. James emerged triumphant once more as his Team LeBron whipped Team Giannis, 178-164, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Kevin Durant, then with Golden State but now with Brooklyn, romped away with game MVP honors for a second time.
This year, it will again be Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis with James seeking a third consecutive victory under the new format.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel will mentor Team LeBron and Nick Nurse of the reigning NBA titlist Toronto Raptors will pilot Team Giannis.
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The city of Los Angeles plans to celebrate Kobe Bryant’s memory on February 24, a symbolic date that incorporates daughter Gianna’s basketball jersey No. 2 and the No. 24 the all-time Lakers great wore in the second decade (2006-2016) of his 20-year tenure (1996-2016) with the Hollywood City outfit.
Kobe, who was 41, and Gianna, 13, were among the nine people that perished in a fiery helicopter crash in Calabasas, California in the morning of January 26 (January 27 Manila time).
A recent investigation to the deadly crash said that while foggy conditions appear to have affected the flight, it ruled out engine failure.
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How come Jamal Crawford, a three-time Sixth Man awardee, is still without any NBA job this season?
He is a master of four-point plays (a triple accompanied by a free throw) but many teams are wary of his matador-like defense.
The 6-foot-5 guard turns 40 on March 20.
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The Milwaukee Bucks are only the eighth team in NBA history to win 43 of their first 50 assignments.
The other seven teams earned a trip to the NBA Finals, with only the 73-win Golden State Warriors in 2015-16 failing to secure the Larry O’Brien hardware.
The Bucks, who are the only remaining NBA club not to have dropped two games in a row so far this campaign, currently own a 45-7 record and are on track to register a 70-win finish and join the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72-10) and the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors (73-9) on the elite list.
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