Kobe Bryant and Blake Griffin were the brightest stars atop the rest of the NBA’s best at the 2011 All-Star weekend. Fittingly, as the festivities took place on their home floor, in the heart of Los Angeles at Staples Center.
The weekend featured several events inundated with some of the league’s brightest players.
The weekend kicked off with the celebrity basketball game displaying familiar faces that included teen idol Justin Bieber, former Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen, last year’s MVP in actor Michael Rapaport and others.
Pippen produced moments that resembled his playing days with Michael Jordan as he knocked down numerous 3-pointers, tallying 17 points and leading his team to a 54-49 victory. Bieber lead the losing team, finishing with eight points while shooting 3-for-11 from the field. Ironically, Bieber managed to win the Most Valuable Player award.
Rookie vs. Sophomore Game
Headlined by phenomenal Clipper rookie Griffin and Washington Wizard John Wall, the rookies quarreled against the sophomores for a high-flying performance on both ends of the court. Not much real basketball played as far as defense goes, but the game included spectacular dunks and fancy footwork from both teams.
The rookies stole the show with MVP Wall recording 22 assists, one in which he set up new dunk contest champion Griffin, with a bounce pass for an alley-oop, which became the highlight of the night.
The rookies defeated the sophomores 148-140.
Washington’s JaVale McGee, Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Griffin participated in the 2011 Slam Dunk Contest and brought spunk back to the event, which has been dull in recent years. Notable dunks of the evening included Ibaka coming from under the rim and grabbing a teddy bear with his teeth as he dunked, and McGee dunking on two courts at the same time.
All this proved to be futile when monster athlete Griffin took the gold, finishing with a spectacular dunk by jumping over a car on an alley-oop thrown by teammate Baron Davis.
The prelude to the big game was immense and the 60th All-Star Game did not disappoint either. With superb performances from both the Eastern and Western conferences, the game brought 9.1 million views, the most since 2003.
13-time All-Star Bryant was the man of the night, leading all scorers with 37 points and taking home his fourth All-Star MVP trophy, tying Bob Pettit for most all-time. The “Black Mamba” also delighted the crowd when he dunked on LeBron James following a fast break opportunity and giving James a slap on the rear, inciting a loud fan reaction.
The West lead for the majority of the game, yet in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, James, who became only the second player next to Michael Jordan to record a triple-double in an All-Star game, energized the East and helped cut a 17-point deficit to less than five. James scored 29 points, dished out 10 assists, and grabbed 12 rebounds, but it was not enough to overcome Bryant’s onslaught as the West won 148-143.