NBA All-Star Weekend celebration is stacked

The 2023 NBA All-Star Game is set in stone as the league’s best will run the court on Sunday, Feb. 19, in the mountains and valleys of Salt Lake City, Utah. The 72nd edition of the program will be hosted by the Utah Jazz, and is beloved by fans for the light-hearted spirit and superhuman highlight plays put on by the players.
While the main attraction of the weekend will without a doubt be this highly anticipated contest, other festivities and revelry have engulfed the city for an exuberant four days of liveliness.
Thursday, Feb. 16, the TNT American Express X Turner Road Show was in full effect. The Emmy-award winning TV show “Inside the NBA”, hosted by Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal, anchored the day-long event and offered a live studio broadcast, NBA on TNT attractions, and a concert. The Complex, located in downtown Salt Lake City, housed the musical performances of Wiz Khalifa and Chloe Bailey, who put on an electric spectacle.
The events on Friday, Feb. 17, include an array of fun. Continuing the musical prowess from last night, Travis Scott has partnered with the Utah Jazz and curated a lineup of artists that will ensue throughout Saturday night, starting the Cactus Jack concert series with Don Tolliver and Sheck Wes, and ending with special guests to be announced on Saturday, Feb. 18.
The concert is a sequel to the NBA Celebrity game and the NBA Rising Stars game. Celebrities from all realms will look to get in on the action, including the likes of current and former athletes in DK Metcalf, Calvin “Megatron” Johnson and Albert Pujols. Other prominent names include rapper 21 Savage and singer Ozuna. Scotty Pippen Jr., son of Bull’s legend Scotty Pippen, will play in the Rising Stars game as part of Team Jason. He is the only member of the Super Basketball League — based out of Taiwan — competing. The rest of the cast consists of NBA rookies, sophomores and NBA G-League players, as they all compete in a three-game mini-tournament among four total squads.
Following an already packed schedule will be NBA All-Star Saturday night. At Vivint Arena, home of the Jazz, festivities including the NBA skills challenge, dunk contest and three-point contest will all take place to build up pandemonium as the weekend inches closer to the All-Star Game.
Last season, Karl Anthony Towns showed off his range from behind the arc as he took home the trophy, but will not be participating again this year. As the game continually changes, Towns set an example showing that a seven-footer can net the deep ball. The hometown hero Lauri Markkanen, who was traded from Cleveland last season, has had the best season of his career. He will look to follow in the footsteps of Towns, while also giving the city of Salt Lake a little extra something to cheer for.
Finally, Sunday, Feb. 19, will arrive. Out of the West corner, after breaking Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s record for the most points scored in an NBA career at 38,387, “just a kid from Akron” LeBron James will reign as captain for the sixth consecutive season since the NBA switched its format in 2018. Out of the East corner, weighing in at 243 pounds and standing 6 foot 11, the 2021 Finals MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo will be the other captain representing the event. The two will draft teams Sunday afternoon, as a bunch of talent is up for grabs. Donovan Mitchell, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving, Jason Tatum, Nicolai Jokic and Markkanen have all been deemed starters, with the reserves including former world champions and seasoned veterans.
A few things to mention when keeping track of everything going on this weekend: if you have ever been to Salt Lake City, or Utah in general, there should be some appreciation for the NBA to set the events up there this year. There is nothing like seeing a mix of orange, red and yellow plateaus and mountain ranges so spectacular you cannot help but gaze in awe.
Furthermore, to see Scotty Pippen’s son as an upcoming prodigy could provide this generation of basketball fans with premium play. Pippen is an icon, and if his son lives up to a sliver of what he was as a basketball player the crowd can see highlight plays on a regular basis. Of course, Pippen had Jordan, but the tandem was like peanut butter and jelly — you can not have one without the other.
Lastly, is there any doubt left that LeBron is the greatest player of all time? Aside from the rings, which he cannot win alone, he has achieved more accolades than possibly any other player in all of sports. People love to hate him, but after passing Kareem, he also shares a record for the most all-star appearances with him after being selected for his 19th season. Oh, yeah, he has also been in the league for 19 years. A legend like Lebron may never walk on the court again, and it is safe to say he is an extraterrestrial not from planet Earth.
It will be an eventful weekend the rest of the way, so look out for legends and stars to make an impact in one of America’s most cherished sports.