BACK TO CHARLOTTE
Charlotte hosted NBA All-Star weekend in 1991, and now gets it back a second time to join 14 other cities that can say it hosted the league’s showcase midseason event on multiple occasions.
Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, St. Louis, Los Angeles and the L.A. suburb of Inglewood, California, are the other previous multi-hosting All-Star cities.
The Bay Area, the Detroit area and the Dallas area are also two-time hosts, though never technically twice in the same city.
LeBron James now has the record for most All-Star captaincies: Two. He and Stephen Curry had the jobs last year when the captain’s format was first introduced to the All-Star weekend, and he and Giannis Antetokounmpo have the jobs this year.
But James’ records revolving around this game hardly stop there.
By starting on Sunday, James will tie Kobe Bryant with 15 starts in the All-Star Game. James will also extend his record of consecutive starts, which will also rise to 15. Some of the other All-Star records James already holds include total points (343), field goals (141) and 3-pointers (35).
And by playing two minutes, James will increase his All-Star total in that stat to 416 – one more than Bryant for No. 2 on the all-time list. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has played the most All-Star minutes, 449.
Bold prediction: No one will foul out on Sunday.
The last player to foul out of an All-Star Game was Hakeem Olajuwon in 1987. Chris Paul was the most recent to come close, when he was whistled for five fouls in the 2008 game.
There have been only 14 instances of someone fouling out of an All-Star Game. Rick Barry and Bob Cousy each fouled out twice; 10 others, including Olajuwon, have done so once.
MVPs AT HOME
Kemba Walker, the lone Charlotte player in this year’s All-Star Game, has suggested that he’s hoping he can wow the home crowd with an MVP-worthy performance.
There’s a history of that sort of thing happening. There have been 14 players who have won All-Star MVP honors in their home cities, spanning a total of 15 games.
The list of hometown All-Star MVPs: Anthony Davis (New Orleans, 2017), Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles, 2011), Shaquille O’Neal (Phoenix, 2009 and Los Angeles, 2004), Karl Malone and John Stockton (Utah, 1993), Michael Jordan (Chicago, 1988), Tom Chambers (Seattle, 1987), Jerry West (Los Angeles, 1972), Rick Barry (the San Francisco area, 1967), Adrian Smith (Cincinnati, 1966), Bob Pettit (St. Louis, 1958 and 1962), Wilt Chamberlain (Philadelphia, 1960), Bob Cousy (Boston, 1957) and Ed Macauley (Boston, 1951).
Assuming he plays, Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki – one of the special additions to the rosters by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who also added Miami’s Dwyane Wade to the list – will become the second 40-something to appear in the All-Star Game. Nowitzki is 40; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played in the game when he was 40 and 41.
Michael Jordan almost pulled off the feat; he was eight days shy of turning 40 when he last played in the All-Star Game in 2003. Jordan, now the owner of the Charlotte Hornets and the unofficial host of the weekend, will turn 56 on Sunday.
Wade, also assuming he gets into the game, will become the 12th player to be an All-Star at 37 or older. Wade turned 37 last month.
Jason Weinmann and James Shaw Jr. might not be ”celebrities,” at least not in the classic sense.
But the NBA rightly believes they should be celebrated.
Weinmann and Shaw were invited to play in Friday’s All-Star Celebrity Game to commemorate heroic acts. Weinmann, a retired Marine, used a military transport vehicle – which he bought at a government auction years ago – during Hurricane Florence last September to help rescue flood victims in North Carolina and bring them to safety. Shaw disarmed a man who had opened fire at a Waffle House restaurant near Nashville last April and has been heralded as a life-saving hero since for wrestling the AR-15 out of the alleged shooter’s hands by the barrel.
G LEAGUE FIRST
Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks is the first member of a new club.
He’s the first G League alum to become an NBA All-Star.
Middleton spent a short time during the 2012-13 season in the G League, before blossoming into one of the league’s best players and a key to Milwaukee going into the break with an NBA-best 43-14 record.
There will be plenty of G League graduates participating on All-Star Saturday as well – Middleton, Seth Curry, Danny Green and Joe Harris are all slated to be in the 3-point contest.
There is some money at stake during All-Star Saturday events, and everybody gets something.
Everyone in the dunk contest will receive at least $20,000, everyone in the skills challenge gets at least $15,000 and all participants in the 3-point shootout take home at least $10,000. From there, prize money varies by finish – the skills challenge winner gets $55,000, the 3-point shootout champion wins $60,000 and the dunk contest winner takes home $105,000.
In all, the Saturday night participants will split $610,000.
This All-Star weekend is the first of four straight in Eastern Conference cities. Chicago gets it next year, Indianapolis in 2021 and Cleveland in 2022. The site for the 2023 game remains unknown; Salt Lake City and Sacramento are two sites often mentioned as candidates for that year, and Orlando is a likely suitor for the 2024 game.
Sunday’s All-Star Game will be officiated by Scott Foster, Curtis Blair and David Guthrie. It’s a home game of sorts for Guthrie, who resides in Charlotte.
Foster worked the 2010 All-Star Game in Dallas. It’s the first All-Star Game for Blair and Guthrie.
The Friday and Saturday events will be worked by a crew of newer refs – third-year official Aaron Smith and fourth-year officials Mitchell Ervin and Gediminas Petraitis.