Canada is a rising basketball power in the world, and the NBA has decided to recognize that in its annual Celebrity All-Star Game Friday night.
The opening event of NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto will feature a roster of celebrities either from Canada or with strong ties to the country against a group of famous people who call the United States home. Both teams also have players who are either former or current professional basketball players, which should ensure that the quality of play stays reasonably high.
But the event is mainly about fun. Let's review the participants in the event, how you can watch the game and predict which squad will eventually pull out a victory.
|2016 All-Star Celebrity Game Rosters|
|Team Canada||Team USA|
|Player||Jersey No.||Player||Jersey No.|
|Win Butler||34||Anthony Anderson||34|
|Drew Scott||09||Marc Lasry||05|
|Jonathan Scott||03||Joel David Moore||22|
|Kris Wu||10||Nick Cannon||02|
|Milos Raonic||27||Jason Sudeikis||30|
|Stephan James||733||Chauncey Billups||01|
|Tom Cavanagh||25||O'Shea Jackson Jr.||24|
|Tammy Sutton-Brown||55||Elena Delle Donne||11|
|Tracy McGrady||01||Muggsy Bogues||5'3|
|Rick Fox||17||Terrence Jenkins||04|
Rapper Drake will be the head coach for Team Canada, with Toronto Raptors All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, former NBA All-Star point guard Steve Nash and Toronto Blue Jays All-Star right fielder Jose Bautista assisting him.
For the United States, actor-comedian Kevin Hart will be the head man on the sidelines. Boston Celtics All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas, San Antonio Spurs assistant coach and former WNBA All-Star point guard Becky Hammon and Detroit Pistons All-Star center Andre Drummond will help him out.
Date: Friday, February 12
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, Ontario
TV Broadcast: ESPN
Live Stream: WatchESPN
First, it's important to note the players on each team who have experience playing basketball at the professional level. They have the smarts and leadership ability to head up their squads' efforts on both ends of the floor.
Canada has Tammy Sutton-Brown, Tracy McGrady and Rick Fox. Sutton-Brown and McGrady were both All-Stars in their respective leagues, and Fox was a solid role player who could shoot, pass and defend. The United States, meanwhile, has Chauncey Billups, Elena Delle Donne and Muggsy Bogues. Billups is a former NBA All-Star, Delle Donne is the reigning WNBA MVP and Bogues can be a reliable distributor and dribbler, assuming he's still in somewhat decent shape.
Purely based on those participants, it doesn't look like either team has a significant advantage. The 6'8" McGrady, 6'7" Fox and 6'4" Sutton-Brown have a significant size advantage on their United States counterparts, but Delle Donne, being the current crown jewel of women's hoops, makes up for some of that. Billups' last NBA minute also came just two years ago, and he shouldn't be too rusty.
So we'll have to look to the rest of the rosters to find a clear edge for one of the teams.
Like Sutton-Brown, McGrady and Fox, the rest of the Canada roster is big and athletic. Per IMDB, Win Butler, Drew Scott and Jonathan Scott are all 6'4" or taller. Stephan James, Tom Cavanagh and Kris Wu are all 6'0" or taller, and James is portraying former United States sprinter Jesse Owens in the upcoming movie Race.
Additionally, Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard are world-class tennis players with plenty of stamina to run up and down the court, if nothing else.
All this size and athletic ability could wear out the United States roster, which also happens to have one member fewer than Canada's.
The United States roster is just smaller and probably not quite as fit overall. Nick Cannon and Anthony Anderson have proved in past games that they aren't anything to worry about, although Jason Sudeikis has proven to be a very solid offensive initiator.
On the sidelines, Hammon has something to bring to Team USA in terms of strategy. She'll probably be a head coach in the NBA one day and is currently learning from the best coach in the league, Gregg Popovich.
Coaching may play a part, but Canada's roster is just too big and deep for the United States to overcome.
Final Score Prediction: Team Canada 67, Team USA 54