The 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend is upon us and the league kicked off its midseason showcase with the Celebrity All-Star Game on Friday night. The game pitted Team USA, coached by four-time Celebrity Game MVP Kevin Hart, and Team Canada which was coached by an extremely well-dressed Drake.
Normally this game is an East-versus-West affair, but since All-Star Weekend is in Toronto, the league switched to a USA-Canada contest.
The teams featured a who's-who of American and Canadian stars. The USA squad trotted out celebs including Jason Sudeikis, Anthony Anderson and O'Shea Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube's son), while Team Canada featured Win Butler (lead singer of Arcade Fire), pro tennis player Milos Raonic and Stephan James, who plays Jesse Owens in the upcoming film Race.
Former NBA players Tracy McGrady, Chauncey Billups, Rick Fox and Muggsy Bogues also participated in the event as well as Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry. Elena Delle Donne (Team USA), last season's WNBA MVP, and former WNBA player Tammy Sutton-Brown (Team Canada) also suited up for their respective countries.
Team Canada followed Drake's buttoned-up lead, earning a business-like 74-64 win over Hart's Team USA squad. After a dominant 15-point, 14-rebound performance, Butler earned game MVP honors.
Always the showman, Hart tried to psych out Drake before the game by refusing to shake hands.
2018 NBA All-Star @NBAAllStar
Oh man. This has the making for a good one. #DewCelebGame #NBAVine https://t.co/kAfOSGN6pq2/13/2016, 12:14:15 AM
The night seemed to be all about Hart, who abandoned his post as head coach and suited up and inserted himself in the game.
NBA on ESPN @ESPNNBA
HE'S BACK!! The 4-time MVP @KevinHart4real takes the court for Team USA. #DewCelebGame https://t.co/SseS1FqVTx2/13/2016, 1:33:34 AM
But Drake and Team Canada got the last laugh. Even Hart, a Celeb Game veteran, couldn't lead his team back to victory.
Even though Team Canada won, the flashier team was definitely Team USA. Sudeikis showed off his finishing ability on this take to the rim early in the first quarter.
Jason Sudeikis attacks the rack on ESPN like ________. #DewCelebGame https://t.co/FfNMcI7E9W2/13/2016, 12:32:56 AM
Sudeikis was definitely Team USA's best player, hitting a number of threes to go along with that pretty finish at the hoop. It was a curious coaching decision to not have Sudeikis on the floor longer.
One of the other USA highlights was Lasry, who got the attention of his own team as well as NFL player Jerry Hughes.
Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks
Billups to Lasry!! #DewCelebGame https://t.co/WWlbKNBtxD2/13/2016, 1:02:45 AM
Jerry hughes @Iam_jerryhughes
The ower of the bucks is out there balling respect 😳 shoot the 32/13/2016, 1:47:05 AM
Not bad for a guy worth almost $2 billion.
As far as All-Star appetizers go, this year's Celebrity Game left a lot to be desired. While it was nice to see McGrady return to where it all began for him, the overall production fell a little short.
However, combined with the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, Friday night was a good start for NBA fans and left them ready for everything else All-Star Weekend has to offer.