The NBA All-Star weekend looked nothing like it usually does on Sunday, as the league condensed the event into a single day at State Farm Arena in Atlanta due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Skills Challenge, 3-Point Contest and Dunk Contest, though, still delivered.
Anfernee Simons wins Dunk Contest
Anfernee Simons showed off his hops, and nearly snuck a kiss with the rim in Atlanta, to win the Slam Dunk Contest on Sunday night.
Simons, after knocking out the Indiana Pacers' Cassius Stanley early, edged out New York Knicks rookie Obi Toppin to claim the title with a wild slam in the final round.
Stanley got the contest rolling with some heat right. Though he came away with the lowest initial score in the first round — something many at home and even the TNT crew didn’t understand — Stanley did not hold back.
Simons had the most creative dunk of the night early. The Trail Blazers guard, for his opening dunk, rose up to the top of the square on the backboard and grabbed the ball — which was sitting on a special mini-hoop they had stuck onto the glass — and threw it down.
For someone who stands 6-foot-3, his vertical is beyond impressive.
He then broke out a Tracy McGrady jersey and almost perfectly executed his dunk from the contest in 2000.
Toppin secured his spot in the finals with a huge wind-up slam while jumping over his dad and Julius Randle in the paint.
So with Toppin and Simons in the finals, the two got a final unscored dunk for the judges to choose the winner.
Toppin went first, and landed a simple between-the-legs slam. Simons followed suit and tried to get up and actually kiss the rim — though he
barely came up short.
Apparently, though, he got close enough for the judges’ liking.
Simons, with a score of 3-2, won the Slam Dunk Contest — the first Trail Blazers player to ever do so.
Magic Johnson not impressed
Though there was plenty to be impressed by, Magic Johnson was left wanting more.
Johnson, whose immaculate takes on social media have run NBA Twitter since he left the Lakers' front office, said he's seen better.
Stephen Curry wins 3-Point Contest
Stephen Curry competed alone in the first round of the 3-Point Contest on Sunday night.
Sure, there were technically five others there — and Mike Conley gave Curry a scare in the final round.
Yet, the Golden State Warriors star, as one of the best shooters in NBA history, easily took over the annual challenge to win his second career 3-Point Contest title.
Curry missed just six shots in his opening round, one of them being the special Mountain Dew deep ball, to put up 31 points. The Golden State Warriors star simply could not miss.
The net didn’t even move on the last shot, either. He was unstoppable.
Jayson Tatum put up 25 points, and Mike Conley dropped 28 in his first All-Star Game appearance to reach the finals with Curry. Jaylen Brown, Zach LaVine and Donovan Mitchell were all knocked out of the first round.
Tatum, having to follow Curry to open the second round, looked a bit shook. He put up just 17 and missed every shot on his Money Ball rack. Conley then knocked Tatum out with a respectable 27, though it still wasn’t enough.
Curry pulled off the win on the final shot of the round, notching a 28 to claim the 3-Point Contest title.
He then dedicated the win to teammate Klay Thompson, who is missing his second straight season with an Achilles injury.
Domantas Sabonis wins Skills Challenge
Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis didn’t miss a beat in his first two runs at the Skills Challenge on Sunday afternoon, and walked his way into the championship round after wins over Julius Randle and Luka Doncic.
Though Orlando Magic big man Nikola Vucevic put up a much bigger fight in the finals, Sabonis came out on top to win the first contest of the night.
While he got the first-round bye, Doncic seemingly couldn’t be bothered to take the contest seriously. Sabonis flew past Doncic — who didn’t even take his warm-ups off — with ease, and had drained his 3-pointer before Doncic had even made his layup on the other end.
Doncic, apparently, was just nervous.
Vucevic survived his second-round match with Chris Paul — though he received a massive boost after Paul missed his first layup and 3-point attempt. He reached that round after a perfect outing over Robert Covington in the opening run.
Vucevic took the early lead in the championship run, edging Sabonis with his pass and layup. Vucevic, however, struggled at the 3-point line, which gave Sabonis a window to snag the win after his third attempt from behind the arc.
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