Western Conference’s Russell Westbrook slams dunks during the first half of the NBA all-star game, Sunday.
WESTBROOK AND STING AMONG THE WINNERS
BY TIM BONTEMPS
The Washington Post
TORONTO – The 2016 NBA All-Star Game has come and gone, with a weekend spent celebrating Kobe Bryant’s last season in the NBA culminating with a 196-173 win for his Western Conference team over the East.
There’s no better way to look back at the weekend that was than to decide who won and who lost. So, on to the scoreboard:
Winner: Russell Westbrook
No one is better built to perform in an All-Star Game than Westbrook. The Oklahoma City Thunder star, with his overflowing combination of athleticism and personality, is the perfect player to take advantage of the stage the All-Star Game provides to put on a show.
He didn’t disappoint Sunday night, finishing with 31 points, eight rebounds, five assists and five steals in picking up a second straight MVP award.
Loser: Carmelo Anthony
It was a rough weekend for Anthony, as the Knicks star spent the past three days answering a barrage of questions about his future, including a trade rumor floated by the New York Daily News that could see him joining up with LeBron James in Cleveland.
Then Anthony looked off throughout the game, finishing with 13 points and six rebounds while failing to convert on several passes from teammates — though, to be fair, they seemed to be trying to throw him alley-oop passes, which isn’t exactly part of his game. Anthony looked like he would’ve been better served taking the night off and resting his ailing knee.
He also somehow was tapped to introduce Sting at halftime, which was a pretty amusing scene to witness. Would love to know what Anthony’s favorite Sting song is.
Wait, what? I’m sure that’s the reaction of many to seeing this. How could Sting, whose performance was mostly met with a shrug, be seen as a winner from All-Star Weekend?
Well, here’s why: because before Sting was announced as the halftime act at this year’s All-Star Game, when was the last time he’d
been discussed like this? Plus, his actual performance was pretty good, even though it was met by minimal acknowledgement from the crowd inside Air Canada Centre.
Let me get this straight: so Drake was in Toronto for all of All-Star Weekend, he was on the stage and took part in introductions before the game began but then couldn’t be the halftime act for the game itself?
It never made much sense that the Toronto native — who also serves as a “Global Ambassador” for the Raptors — didn’t perform this weekend. Having him in the arena and sitting courtside during the game made it all the more confusing.
Winner: Paul George
A year ago, George missed this game while recovering from the broken leg he suffered in the summer of 2014 preparing to play for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup that fall.
George looked like someone trying to make up for lost time Sunday, putting on a fantastic show that saw him finish with 41 points on 16-for- 26 shooting. It was a performance that would’ve earned him the MVP Award on most nights, and would’ve on this one if the East had found a way to win. Regardless, it’s the latest chapter in what’s been a fun story this season seeing George recapture his prior form.
Loser: Nelly Furtado
It’s hard to mess up the Canadian national anthem. But Furtado’s performance came about as close as you can to actually doing so.
The beauty of “O Canada” is the simplicity of the song — being in an arena and hearing the entire crowd sing along with whoever is performing it is always one of the coolest things about coming to a sporting event in Canada. But Furtado’s performance was so off that most people were instead trying to figure out what she was doing instead, which was a disappointment.
Winner: The Slam Dunk Contest
The demise of the Slam Dunk Contest has been endlessly debated for years, but the one-on-one battle between Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine and Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon was a truly spectacular showing by both players.
It was the kind of night that is what makes the dunk contest such a great event when it’s done well. Loser: The city of Toronto
This was Toronto’s big chance to show itself off to the rest of the NBA, but it largely failed to thanks to something completely out of the city’s control: incredibly cold temperatures.
It was below freezing for practically the entire weekend, making it difficult for people to get around and, unfortunately, keeping many people from having the chance to experience a very cool city, one with plenty of culture to offer. With the success the Raptors have been having on the court, this won’t be Toronto’s last chance to take advantage of a significant opportunity like this, but it’s too bad the weather hampered the city’s efforts to leverage this one.
Winner: Michael Jordan
For all of the celebrating of Kobe Bryant, arguably the largest ovation of the night came when Jordan strode to center court as part of a presentation honoring his Charlotte Hornets as next year’s All-Star Game hosts.
Jordan may have stopped playing in the NBA 13 years ago, but even over a decade later he still remains the biggest star in the sport — a true testament to the way he and his career have resonated over the past 30 years.
Loser: Kobe Bryant
Sure, it was great that Bryant was feted on his way out as he should be, and he was fine in the game, finishing with 10 points, six rebounds and seven assists.
But let’s be honest: the only way this could truly be a storybook ending for Bryant would be to go out like Magic Johnson did on this same stage 20 years ago, and walk away with the game’s MVP trophy.