Just about every sport has an all-star game, but none can generate as much excitement for an entire weekend quite like the NBA.
There will be a little bit of everything on display in Toronto, from the best players in the league to the young stars on the rise to a bunch of celebrities who have no business being on a basketball court. Outside of the games, the individual competitions have a chance to create some memorable moments that will go down in league history.
Here is a look at what to watch for throughout the NBA's All-Star Weekend from the Air Canada Centre.
|NBA All-Star Weekend Schedule|
|Friday, Feb. 12||Celebrity Game||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|Friday, Feb. 12||Rising Stars Challenge||9 p.m.||TNT|
|Saturday, Feb. 13||All-Star Saturday Night||8 p.m.||TNT|
|Sunday, Feb. 14||NBA All-Star Game||8:30 p.m.||TNT|
The All-Star Celebrity Game will be highlighted by two men who won't even be playing: Kevin Hart and Drake. The duo will coach a matchup of United States versus Canada featuring some intriguing players on each side.
Drake, obviously supporting Team Canada in his native Toronto, will have some former NBA players in Steve Nash and Tracy McGrady to go with Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Bautista and the Property Brothers' Drew and Jonathan Scott.
Hart will use his experience as the four-time MVP of this game to lead Jason Sudeikis and Anthony Anderson, as well as former players Chauncey Billups and Muggsy Bogues. Unfortunately, this team might be lacking in height between the players and coaching staff.
In any case, it should be a fun way to kick off the weekend.
Following this exhibition will be the Rising Stars Challenge featuring a battle of young stars from the United States against a collection of international players. Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor highlight the U.S. team, while Andrew Wiggins and Kristaps Porzingis lead a formidable World roster.
A full list of the teams is available at NBA.com, and it should show an exciting look at the future of the sport.
All-Star Saturday is often the most anticipated part of the weekend with a night featuring the Skills Challenge, Three-Point Contest and Slam Dunk Contest, in order.
While people often overlook the Skills Challenge, this year's version could be interesting with a few big men taking on the test. The event is usually a battle of the best point guards in the league, but DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Draymond Green and Towns will try to show off their agility, ball-handling and passing. Still, the odds likely favor the smaller, quicker guards.
The Three-Point Contest also doesn't quite have the drama of the Slam Dunk Contest, but the field is as good as you can imagine:
Still, the main event is the dunk contest, where Zach LaVine will try to defend his title:
Andre Drummond, Will Barton and Aaron Gordon will challenge the reigning champion in what could be a memorable battle of high-flyers.
Finally, the best players in the league will be on display Sunday in the All-Star Game. Players like Curry, LeBron James and Kevin Durant lead the way with some impressive rosters for both the Eastern and Western conferences.
Veterans Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade aren't exactly having their best seasons, but they have earned their places thanks to outstanding careers. Bryant especially will be the highlight of the game as he makes his final appearance on the big stage before retiring at the end of the year.
Of course, this game is more than just the usual suspect. One of the best stories is Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas, the former last pick in the 2011 NBA draft who has turned himself into a leader for a surprisingly competitive squad. The 5'9" guard explained how much it meant to get the All-Star nod, per ESPN.com's Chris Forsberg:
It is [important]. I just worked so hard. I feel like I deserve it. Not just the individual success, but as a team. We've been winning lately, we're fifth in the East, and we're playing at a high level right now. And on top of that, the numbers don't lie. You can stack the numbers up against anybody in the NBA and they'd be there.
With other first-time selections such as Drummond and Kawhi Leonard, there is a lot to watch at this year's event.
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