An incredible weekend that began for myself on Friday with the Rising Stars media festivities and game, carried the torch into a highly anticipated Saturday full of All-Star practice, media day, the Skills Challenge, Three-Point Contest and a rememberable Dunk Contest.
The day started with the All-Star practice. It was a fun event for the fans, as well as the players. It really gave a college game type of feel. Multiple jerseys from plenty of different teams surrounding the arena. The players were very interactive with the fans in the arena. Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving was seen passing the ball to kids in the stands to have them pass it back to him and score a basket.
It was interesting just seeing the interactions among the All-Stars as everyone had a smile on their face and you can tell they were really soaking up the All-Star Weekend activities. From games to charity, which the Beam Team of De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis would put up the most points, to the half-court shooting contest it was just a highly energetic atmosphere.
Moving then toward the media day where I was surrounded with the league's best media outlets. Before the players came out to their podiums it was nice catching up with a few of the members of the media who I've spoken to multiple times either on my show 'The Kings Court' or on Twitter, but finally got to meet each other in person. To catching up with the outside market media guys who I haven't seen since Summer League and just asking how they're doing and the good catching up chit chatting.
Now the players walk-in. Everyone tends to gravitate to the "bigger" names of the NBA like Jayson Tatum, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, ect. My goal is to get to the players that will provide content and interest for you all here at StR.
I think a cool story line heading into Sunday's All-Star game is the idea that De'Aaron Fox and former teammate Tyrese Haliburton could be teammates again.
"I'm excited man," Haliburton said when I asked him about the potential of he and Fox being teammates. "I'm curious to see how all this plays out, but yeah I'm excited."
I asked Fox the same question about Haliburton becoming an All-Star and potentially being teammates again:
Thoughts on Haliburton being an All-Star:
"I think pretty much everybody knew he could be a guy that could average 20 and 10. He's doing that. He's leading them. They're (Indiana Pacers) a really good team before he got injured. But I think this was something that was just pretty much expected. We all knew what he could do if he got his own team. I think it's worked out for the best.”
Thoughts on being teammates again:
"Not necessarily. It's funny because whenever you think about like KD and Russ (Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook) and how that was a big deal, or LeBron and Ky when that happened. I don't think us players are like looking, because yeah we're teammates on the court but we're not playing like a serious game, so you're not really thinking about it like that."
The biggest takeaway from Fox's media session was just the way he carries himself as an All-Star and the way he wants people to remember the Kings.
"I think it's exciting, but for us, for me, personally, I want this to be a staple. I want it to be something that's not surprising. You're just use to seeing people talk about the Kings. It's great that it's happening for the first time, but we want to do something and we want to be consistent."
Watch full interview here:
Both Fox and Sabonis were all smiles at their podiums and soaking in this moment as being All-Stars.
The Saturday night events were great. The new style of games they implemented for the Skills Challenge was interesting to watch and it had the fans excited from the moment it started until the end.
The Three-Point Contest, which was highly anticipated among Kings fans, left with a bit of a sour taste. Kevin Huerter would finish with a contest low 8 points.
Not what we envisioned, that’s life tho. Incredible experience! I’ll be back.— Kevin Huerter (@KevinHuerter) February 19, 2023
Hopefully the shots he missed, he's saving them for the Kings playoff push.
The dunk contest was up next. Not too much was expected for this year's contest, but as my SBNation partner Calvin Chappell told me, the underrated are the one's that can surprise you.
Surprise they did! Mac McClung put on a show inside the Vivant Arena. His dunks were absolutely ridiculous to see. I think the mixture of his crazy athletics and the low expectations of the event truly made this a very memorable night for everyone inside the arena.
slow motion on Mac McClung 540 dunk♬ original sound - SacKingsNation
Tracy McGrady couldn't believe what he saw while watching Mac McClung in the dunk contest #nbaallstarweekend #nbaallstar #nbadunkcontest #dunkreactions #celebrity #NBA #Dunks #macmcclung #tracymcgrady #utahallstar #2023nbaallstar #foryou♬ original sound - SacKingsNation
It was an incredible day. Utah, while a little bit cold, has been a fantastic host for this All-Star Weekend. This is all building up to what will be the main event in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game. It should make for an exciting night for everyone to enjoy.