By Evan Brooks, Contributing Writer
Posted 4:00 PM EST, Fri., Feb. 10, 2017
During the weekend of Feb. 17-19, the New Orleans Smoothie King Center will host All-Star Weekend and the All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 19.
The three-day event will start with the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 17. This event will feature some of the top young talent in the NBA today. Ten first-and second-year U.S. NBA players and pitted against 10 first-and-second year international NBA players. Participants included Brandon Ingram (Lakers-United States), Jahlil Okafor (76ers-US), Trey Lyles (Jazz-Canada) and Emmanuel Mudiay (Knicks-Democratic Republic of the Congo).
Saturday’s events will feature the skills challenge, 3-point shooting contest and the dunk contest. Participating in the Taco Bell sponsored Skills Challenge are Joel Embiid, Gordon Hayward, Anthony Davis, John Wall, Devin Booker, Isaiah Thomas, Kristaps Porzingis and DeMarcus Cousins. The competitors for the Three-Point Contest are Kyle Lowry, Wesley Matthews, Kemba Walker, Nick Young, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, CJ McCollum and Eric Gordon. The Dunk Contest will feature Aaron Gordon, Derrick Jones Jr., DeAndre Jordan and Glenn Robinson III.
All-Star weekend will conclude with the All-Star game on Sunday at 8:00 p.m. The game will be televised on TNT as well as the rest of All-Star weekend events. This year’s Western Conference team will be coached by Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors. The Eastern Conference team will be coached by Bradley Stevens of the Boston Celtics. This marks the second time Kerr will coach for the western conference. This will be the first time Stevens coaches for the eastern conference.
The starters for the west include the two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry and James Harden as the backcourt. In the frontcourt will be the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard, along with Kevin Durant and New Orleans’ very own Anthony Davis. For the eastern conference, the starters will be Kyrie Irving and DeMar DeRozan in the backcourt, joined 13-time All -Star LeBron James, Jimmy Butler and first timer Giannis Antetokounmpo (The Greek Freak) of the Milwaukee Bucks.
The reserves for the West include Russell Westbrook, Draymond Green, Gordon Hayward, Marc Gasol, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan. The East reserves include John Wall, Isaiah Thomas, Kemba Walker, Kevin Love, Paul George, Kyle Lowry and Paul Millsap.
The anticipated weekend comes after much controversy. Originally, the weekend was to take place in Charlotte. However, New Orleans was selected as the new host in lieu of Charlotte passing the HB2 law. The law, formally known as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, prevents transgender people to use the bathroom identified with their gender identity.
The law states, “transgender people who have not taken surgical and legal steps to change the gender noted on their birth certificates have no legal right under state law to use public restrooms under the gender which with they identify.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants all NBA fans to be involved during the events of All-Star Week, as the weekend should be open to all people.
“Our weekend-long schedule of All-Star events and activities is intended to be a global celebration of basketball, our league, and the values for which we stand, and to bring together all members of the NBA community—current and former players, league and team officials, business partners and fans,” Silver said in an official league statement.
To fulfill the desire for all fans to be included in the anticipated NBA events, New Orleans became the newly selected city, making it a less controversial situation due to lack of discrimination against any person.
“While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2,” Silver said.
All-Star Weekend will kick-off at on Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. ET on TNT with the NBA All-Star Celebrity game.