The NBA All-Star weekend got off to a flyer on Friday night with the league’s young talents stepping out for the Rising Stars Challenge in Chicago, while a host of famous faces played in the celebrity game.
Team USA took on Team World in Windy City with the likes of Zion Williamson, Luka Doncic, DeAndre Ayton and Ja Morant showcasing their skills at the United Center.
But it was Miles Bridges who stole the show as the Charlotte Hornets small forward scored 20 points to take home the MVP prize as Team USA walked away with a 151-131 victory over their international rivals.
Bridges has been a bright spark in a Hornets side that haven’t delivered so far this season, with the team 11th in the Eastern Conference. Bridges added five rebounds and five assists to his tally in a productive evening for the second year pro, who was presented with the trophy by Isiah Thomas.
‘We wanted to come out and play hard in the Rising Stars and show what Charlotte is about – me, Devonte’ (Graham) and P.J. (Washington),’ Bridges said. ‘And that’s what we did. I didn’t have any extra motivation, really, I wouldn’t say that. But MJ putting Chicago on the map, it definitely plays a big part, though.’
Despite Bridges taking home the MVP honours, Williamson still made his presence known with a series of emphatic dunks, one of which broke the rim. The No 1 pick was unaware that late in the first half he had bent the rim off an alley-oop dunk.
‘Went into half-time and my team-mates started telling me about it,’ he said. I don’t know which dunk it was on, but I don’t think it was me.’
Cleveland’s Collin Sexton had 21 points, Atlanta All-Star Trae Young added 18 and Chicago product Kendrick Young of Miami chipped in with 16. Williamson scored 14 and had the baskets inside the United Center shaking whether he made or missed.
RJ Barrett of New York led the World with 27 points, and Washington’s Brandon Clarke scored 22.
It was an action-packed opening to a weekend which will have sombre overtones following the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant last month. The NBA are introducing a number of features to the weekend to honour the late LA Lakers legend.
Players wore patches featuring the numbers 2 and 24 surrounded by nine stars in honor of the Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, who were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash.
Bryant also headlined a class of eight Hall of Fame finalists announced Friday, along with Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan.
Meanwhile, a host of famous faces took to the court for the annual All-Star Celebrity Game as Team Wilbon beat Team Stephen A 62-47.
The two ESPN colleagues went head-to-head on the sideline and watched on as rapper and actor Common scooped the MVP prize after scoring 10 points and four steals in the clash.
WNBA star A’ja Wilson scored 11 points while Migos rapper Quavo scored nine points for Stephen A’s side. Quavo wore custom shoes with pictures of Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
Team LeBron James and Team Giannis Antetokounmpo go head-to-head in the All-Star game in the early hours of Monday morning (UK time).
SOURCE: Daily Mail