The 2011 NBA All-Star Weekend has come and gone, so now we have time to reflect on the last three to four days in Los Angeles. Staples Center was the host, and its tenants took home the major hardware of the weekend, with Blake Griffin of the Clippers winning the Slam Dunk Contest and Kobe Bryant of the Lakers taking home his record-tying fourth All-Star Game MVP trophy. All in all, the weekend was a great showcase for L.A. basketball.
All-Star weekend began with the unveiling of a statue of the great Jerry West, the Hall of Fame player for the Lakers who later became the team's general manager who was integral in the forming of two dynastic teams. West is already the logo for the NBA, so it's only fitting that he have a statue in front of Staples Center, too. Fellow Laker statue subject Magic Johnson went so far as to say of West, "Here’s a guy whose statue should have been out there before mine."
Friday in Los Angeles involved mostly around more Carmelo Anthony trade rumors, but the night culminated in the Rookie Challenge, the first of Griffin's three events on the weekend. Griffin did not disappoint, scoring 14 points, on seven crowd-pleasing slam dunks, including this masterpiece courtesy of the Wizards' John Wall:
However, Griffin saved his best for Saturday night. The dunk contest had an amazing first round, including JaVale McGee dunking on two baskets at the same time, L.A. native DeMar DeRozan throwing down a vicious reverse dunk, and Serge Ibaka dunking from the free throw line (from further back than Dr. J, Michael Jordan, or even the immortal Brent Barry). However, the image of the night was Griffin getting a pass through the sunroof of a KIA from teammate Baron Davis, then jumping over a car! It might not have even been Griffin's best dunk of the night, but it was enough to get the home crowd on their feet and give Griffin the slam dunk crown.
The three days of All-Star festivities ended with Sunday's All-Star Game. Kobe came out of the gate firing early, guiding the west to a halftime lead with 21 first-half points. Kobe had 32 points with 18 minutes left in the game, and Wilt Chamberlain's scoring record of 42 points seemed within reach. Meanwhile, LeBron James had a spectacular game as well, especially in the fourth quarter, and ended up finishing with the second triple-double in All-Star history. Like most All-Star Games, no matter how big the lead, the final few minutes always seem to be close, and Sunday was no exception. The East cut the West lead to two points, but Kobe, Kevin Durant, and Pau Gasol came through late to drive home the victory for the West.
Kobe's 37 points and 14 rebounds brought him another All-Star MVP award, his fourth, trying him with Bob Pettit for the NBA record. In the end, the Staples Center crowd got what they wanted for three days of exciting basketball action, a great weekend for Los Angeles basketball.