The NBA All-Star Weekend is supposed to be about fun, a celebration of the game of basketball and a break from the grind and intensity of the regular season. Of all the events during the All-Star break, none is more lighthearted than the Celebrity All-Star Game, where amateur ballers and former NBAers team up for a quick romp on the hardwood.
This isn't to say that the Celebrity All-Star Game is the peak of the weekend's entertainment. It's not always fun to watch basketball played by (mostly) lesser athletes who are sometimes exhibiting more-than-questionable effort. Still, it can be a treat to see famous folks from other realms of entertainment out of their element and having fun.
The 2016 NBA Celebrity All-Star Game is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. ET. It will be televised live on ESPN and can also be live streamed at WatchESPN.
With the game taking place in at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto this year, the NBA has set up the Celebrity All-Star Game as a battle between Team Canada and Team USA.
Per NBA.com, Toronto native and hip-hop megastar Drake will be the head coach for Team Canada, while actor, comedian and four-time Celebrity All-Star Game MVP Kevin Hart will helm Team USA. Former NBA All-Star Steve Nash and current Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista will help Drake out with the coaching.
Here's a look at the rosters for each team:
|2016 NBA Celebrity All-Star Game Rosters|
|Team Canada||Famous For||Team USA||Famous For|
|Stephan James||Playing Jesse Owens in "Race"||Jason Sudeikis||Former SNL cast member, "Race"|
|Win Butler||lead singer of Arcade Fire||Anthony Anderson||Actor, comedian, star of ABC's "blackish"|
|Drew Scott||HGTV's "Property Brothers"||Joel David Moore||Actor, "Dodgeball"|
|Jonathan Scott||HGTV's "Property Brothers"||Nick Cannon||"America's Got Talent"|
|Milos Raonic||Professional tennis player||Chauncey Billups||Five-time NBA All-Star, ESPN analyst|
|Kris Wu||Actor, singer||Muggsy Bogues||Former NBA point guard, shortest player to ever play in NBA|
|Tracy McGrady||Seven-time NBA All-Star, Former Toronto Raptor||Marc Lasry||Co-owner, Milwaukee Bucks|
|Rick Fox||Three-time NBA Champion, NBA TV analyst||Elena Delle Donne||WNBA MVP, Chicago Sky|
|Tammy Sutton-Brown||Former two-time WNBA All-Star|
At first glance, Team Canada appears to have a distinct advantage. They have nine players to USA's eight, more coaches and while both teams feature two former NBA players, Tracy McGrady is far and away the best of the bunch.
Team USA's Chauncey Billups played in the NBA more recently than McGrady, but only by one year. It's entirely possible T-Mac could still be out there balling his heart out in the Association if given the opportunity.
Team Canada might also have a secret weapon in Arcade Fire's Win Butler. He's making his second Celebrity All-Star Game appearance and has a nice three-point stroke, as seen in the video below (h/t SB Nation's Tom Ziller):
Team USA is also down one professional athlete to Canada due to the presence of tennis star Milos Raonic. Ranked No. 11 on the ATP World Tour, Raonic is fresh off a semifinals appearance at the 2016 Australian Open and could be dangerous translating his stamina and athleticism from the hard courts to the hardwood.
HGTV stars Drew and Jonathan Scott have been preparing hard, enlisting the help of an American in former NBA player Jerome "Junkyard Dog" Williams.
"The Junkyard Dog, he’s coming over here to my place in an hour, we’re going to get a workout in. We’re trying to keep ourselves in shape. Cardio is going to be the tough thing, I’ve got to admit," said Drew, per Lauren La Rose of the Canadian Press (via GlobalNews.ca).
All that said, Team USA is not without its own strengths, as it features the best overall player in WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne. Vice Sports' Howard Megdal wrote in July 2015 about how dominant Delle Donne's MVP campaign for the Chicago Sky was:
Delle Donne says that she would be teaching Special Education if she wasn't playing basketball for the Chicago Sky, but this is a moot point at the moment. She is playing basketball professionally, and playing it as well as anyone—of any gender—has ever played the game. Delle Donne posted a 40.9 Player Efficiency Rating over the first ten games of the WNBA season. No one else in the history of either the NBA or WNBA has ever topped 35. LeBron's never topped 32. Neither did Wilt Chamberlain, the year he scored 100 points in a game and averaged 50.4 points per contest.
Delle Donne's multifaceted game and ability to sink free throws (career 93.9 percent) better than even Nash, the NBA's all-time leader in career free-throw percentage at 90.4 percent, could swing the game for Team USA.
Though he's graduated to the coaching ranks, Hart has proved in past Celebrity All-Star Games that the shorter players can rule the game if they play fast and aggressive. Plus, he's working with 5'3" Muggsy Bogues who was a lightning-quick NBA point guard and can serve as Hart's upgraded proxy out on the court.
The only downside to Bogues is that there hasn't been any indication of him bringing along his grandson, the adorably-nicknamed Samartine "Fatman" Bogues, as a potential ringer for Team USA.
Nick Cannon has played in the Celebrity All-Star Game eight times, so he's the most experienced player in this silly sideshow.
Team USA also features the only billionaire in Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry. Perhaps he can motivate his celebrity teammates with game bonuses or something, or at least take everyone out for ice cream after if they win.
So, Team Canada appears to have a slight advantage in terms of athleticism and the possibility that McGrady clowns everyone with a throwback performance.
One also has to wonder if having Nash and Bautista as extra coaches means that Team Canada could throw those two athletes into the mix if they need to clinch the game late. Don't put it past the Celebrity All-Star Game to juice up the show with some shady stunts.