NBA & NHL All Star Weekends Excite
by Nathaniel Deacon on Friday, February 20th, 2015
On January 25th, the top hockey players from around the world took to the ice to compete in the 2015 NHL All-Star Game. Unlike the traditional East vs.West game, two captains performed a fantasy draft to determine the teams this year. The league instituted this format in 2011 to renew what the general public began to view as a dull event. This year’s captains were Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks and Nick Folgigno of the Columbus Blue Jackets. As always, the popular “hardest shot competition” preceded the big game. This year’s winner, Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators, blasted a shot that clocked in at a blistering 108.5 mph. After two days of goofy fun during the draft and skills competition, the All Star game finally kicked off. To say the game was a shootout would be an understatement. After low scoring first period (at least by All-Star game standards), the two teams were tied at 4. The game broke open in the next two periods, with team Toews winning 17-12 in the highest scoring All-Star game of all time. The fan vote for the MVP of the game came down to Islanders forward John Tavares, Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, and Columbus’ Ryan Johansson. Johansson, powered by the votes of his home fans, eventually prevailed to win the award.
Three weeks later, the NBA held its All Star weekend in New York City. The weekend’s festivities started in Brooklyn, with the various skills competitions. In the weekend’s first big event, the three point contest, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry beat out teammate Klay Thompson and Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving in the finals. Just minutes later, 19 year old Zach LaVine dazzled fans and judges alike in the dunk contest. Despite a strong performance from Orlando’s Victor Oladipo, Levine ran away with the contest. He impressed the judges by throwing down a behind the back and between the legs dunks with ease. The main event took place on Sunday at the basketball mecca: Madison Square Garden. As in previous All Star Games, dunks and points were plentiful, but defense was not. Superstar LeBron James came out hot, scoring 15 points in the first eight minutes for the East squad, but the West responded with a superstar of their own, Russell Westbrook. After sitting on the bench for much of the first quarter, Westbrook exploded for 12 points in the final 5 minutes of the first. But the Oklahoma City star did not stop there, finishing the half with an All Star record 27 points. Despite being down by as much as twenty in the first half, the East team stormed back to tie the game at 158 with under five minutes to go in the fourth. But Westbrook sealed the game with a clutch three pointer, and the West began to pull away. By the end of the game, Westbrook had scored 41 points, just one shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s All Star Game record. Westbrook capped off his spectacular night by winning the MVP in a landslide vote.
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