The best players in the NBA will take a break from competing for playoff spots to have fun during NBA All-Star Weekend from Feb. 14-16.
While each sport has its own style for the All-Star Game, this one is arguably the most popular due to the star power and the competitiveness in each event. From the Rising Stars Challenge to the Slam Dunk Contest and more, there is plenty to keep fans entertained throughout the three days.
This year's competition will take place at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, home of the Pelicans. Here is a look at everything else you need to know for the weekend ahead, courtesy of NBA.com.
Friday, Feb. 14
Celebrity All-Star Game
Time: 7 p.m. ET
The Celebrity All-Star Game is less of an actual competition and more of a chance to see how good (or bad) your favorite stars are on the basketball court.
Kevin Hart highlights the roster after winning the last two MVP awards in this exhibition, which is quite an impressive feat considering his diminutive stature. He will be joined by both Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg as the radio hosts look to prove which is the better athlete, while Victoria's Secret model Erin Heatherton will try to keep up as well.
If you think this selection of people is not enough, the coaches for this will be Grantland's Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose. The two preview the game here, but you might have to skip ahead to get to the actual rosters:
No matter who wins, this is certain to be entertaining.
Rising Stars Challenge
Time: 9 p.m. ET
This game used to pit the league's rookies against the sophomores, but the second-year players often did too good of a job embarrassing their younger counterparts. Now it is a random draft led by captains, this year featuring Grant Hill against Chris Webber.
Bleacher Report captured the big board following the draft:
Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis have both taken huge jumps this season and are already among the league's elite, so this game should be a piece of cake for both of them.
Alternative story lines in this game include the Miles Plumlee vs. Mason Plumlee matchup and the Michigan reunion of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Saturday, Feb. 15
All-Star Saturday Night
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Things start off on the All-Star Saturday Night with the Shooting Stars competition, which features a current player, a retired player and a women's player teaming up to knock down shots.
While this is usually an event that people skim over, some of the pairings are quite interesting, as noted by Bleacher Report's Christopher Walder:
Tim Hardaway Jr. will pair with Tim Hardaway Sr., while Stephen Curry will compete with Dell Curry. Of course, the pairings of Kevin Durant and Karl Malone plus Chris Bosh and Dominique Wilkins are nothing to scoff at either, creating what should be a memorable event.
In what has become a team event, the Skills Challenge features some of the top rising stars in the NBA. DeMar DeRozan will pair with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Michael Carter-Williams will team with Victor Oladipo as representatives of the Eastern Conference.
From the Western Conference, Trey Burke and Damian Lillard will compete against Goran Dragic and Reggie Jackson. Most of these players are looking to make a name for themselves, and this point guard competition is a good way to do it.
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have won the last two three-point contests, and they will each battle again this weekend. They will be joined by Arron Afflalo, Bradley Beal, Joe Johnson, Marco Belinelli, Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard.
Belinelli has the highest shooting percentage of this bunch on the season at 44.6 percent from three-point range. Then again, some of these players will fare much better without a hand in their face.
Slam Dunk Competition
This is the main event for Saturday night as it always features a memorable moment or two. While LeBron James is still not competing, fans will be able to see plenty of star power in Paul George, Terrence Ross, John Wall, Harrison Barnes, Ben McLemore and, you guessed it, Lillard.
Lillard will be the first person to compete in five events on All-Star weekend (three events on Saturday, Rising Stars Challenge and the All-Star Game itself), but he is far from a favorite in this competition. Ross is the defending champion and got people excited with this tweet:
However, George has been throwing down some impressive in-game dunks all season:
After a few subpar years of the dunk contest, fans are ready for something big this year.
Sunday, Feb. 16
Time: 6 p.m. ET
TV: NBA TV
What would an All-Star Game be without a pregame concert to hype up the fans? Thankfully, the league has secured some top talent for the show.
According to an official release, Jason Derulo, Aloe Blacc and Mack Wilds will all perform their individual hits, leading up to the game at 8 p.m. ET. Terrence Jenkins of E! News will also host the concert.
While this might not be the spectacle of the Super Bowl Halftime Show, it is still a big moment for each of these artists.
NBA All-Star Game
Time: 8 p.m. ET
I'm just happy. I'm honored to be selected to play in the All-Star Game, play against the best players in the world. It's very humbling. I'm happy the hard work is paying off. Even though it's not my priority, it's still a pretty good achievement. I'm proud of it.
This year's big game features a wide range of players, from the young to the old. Kobe Bryant was named an All-Star for the 16th time in his career, but he will not play due to injury.
Here is a full look at the starters for each team, courtesy of NBA.com:
|NBA All-Star Starters|
|Kobe Bryant*||Los Angeles Lakers||LeBron James||Miami Heat|
|Kevin Durant||Oklahoma City Thunder||Carmelo Anthony||New York Knicks|
|Stephen Curry||Golden State Warriors||Paul George||Indiana Pacers|
|Kevin Love||Minnesota Timberwolves||Kyrie Irving||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|Blake Griffin||Los Angeles Clippers||Dwyane Wade||Miami Heat|
|*Not playing due to injury|
As ESPN notes, there were quite a few people angry about some of the absentees:
Still, everyone on this chart besides DeMarcus Cousins reached the game as a reserve, and the overall talent should create yet another midseason classic.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.