This weekend, we were given the opportunity to watch the very best of the best take to the hard court at the Air Canada Centre (ACC) as the NBA’s most talented hoopsters descended upon Toronto for the league’s All-Star weekend (#NBAAllStarTO)!
Unlike the All-Star experiences in the other big four leagues, the NBA’s All-Star festivities feature a ton of social media opportunities for fans to get engaged! Whether it’s the Taco Bell Skills Challenge (#TacoBellSkills), Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, or Verizon Slam Dunk Contest (#VerizonDunk), fans can collectively discuss and critique each aspect of the weekend using the official event hashtags!
Even before the weekend began, the NBA (@NBA) created hashtags with emoticons for each individual athlete participating in the All-Star weekend! These emoticons and hashtags once again allowed fans to come together and talk about the dominant performances they hoped to see and their most highly anticipated moments as the weekend began on Friday night!
To kick things off, fans watched the Celebrity Game, which featured Team Canada against Team USA! This year’s opening act featured celebrity coaches Drake (@Drake) and Kevin Hart (@KevinHart4real), who coached former basketball stars including Rick Fox (@RickFox), Tracy McGrady (@Real_T_Mac), and Mugsy Boggs! The teams were not entirely comprised of former ballers, however, as they also featured Tennis Canada (@TennisCanada) standouts Milos Raonic (@milosraonic) and Eugenie Bouchard (@geniebouchard), actor (and apparent three-point specialist) Jason Sudeikis (@jasonsudeikis), and singer Win Butler (@WinButler)!
The Celebrity Game was a ton of fun, with Drake and Kevin Hart being enthusiastic and dramatic throughout. Kevin Hart, a 4-time NBA Celebrity Game MVP, even got so agitated that Team USA was losing that he brought himself out of retirement to try and inspire his team to victory! Despite the dramatics, Team Canada pulled out the victory, with Arcade Fire’s (@arcadefire) Win Butler taking home the game’s MVP award!
Even more exciting than Friday night’s activities, meanwhile, were the events that we saw on Saturday evening (#StateFarmSaturday)! The highlight of Saturday’s events was, of course, the #VerizonDunk! Aaron Gordon (@Double0AG) put up multiple dunks that fans believed should have won him the title, but he was defeated by Zach LaVine (@ZachLaVine), who claimed victory for the second year in a row. This impressive dunk-off raised questions amongst fans about the judges, which featured a number of former NBA All-Stars! In our opinion, if the NBA All-Star weekend is aware of the power of social media, and thus created individual hashtags with emoticons for each athlete, they should allow their fans (via social media) to vote for the #VerizonDunk winner, much like the NHL (@NHL) does for the shoot-out winners! This is an easy way to decide a winner that the fans appreciate and agree upon because, after all, All-Star weekends were created for the fans!
Of course the All-Star Game itself on Sunday was a riot, featuring players joking around with regular season foes and an almost complete lack of defense (aside from the sudden double team on Paul George (@Yg_Trece) in the game’s final minute to deny him the all-time single game scoring record)! But the highlight of Sunday’s festivities was most certainly Kobe Bryant (@kobebyant)! No one in the ACC (or watching the game from their living room back home) could deny how special this game was because of the future Hall-of-Famer! Not only was his presence exciting for the fans and his fellow athletes, but his enthusiasm and pure love of the game spilled over and we could all tell that, love him or hate him, the Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) legend will be missed when he hangs up his sneakers at the end of the season.
When all was said and done and the final interviews were conducted, Torontonians and Canadian basketball fans alike can be proud of the show that they put on for the rest of the basketball community! We’re not sure we’ll ever see an All-Star weekend that we were more enthusiastic about or that we will enjoy as much as this one!