Although they didn’t get the desired result, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Cole Anthony put on a show in Cleveland. These are the biggest winners of the evening.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
No one has ever approached the Skills Challenge quite like Giannis Antetokounmpo, a reigning Finals MVP who really had nothing to do and acted like his life depended on the outcome.
Giannis only finished eight points in the Team Shooting section, but what’s more important than that score (which isn’t very good) is how this guy handled a pointless event that he was immeasurably overqualified for, like it was the NBA Finals. Giannis sprinted by drilling the drill through a 5-pointer after opening.
When the Antetokounmpo Brothers triumphed on the passing round, Giannis acted as if the Bucks had just made it through to the playoffs. He then struggled in the relay, but attacked it again with maniacal intensity. Even though he lost, Giannis’ worry factor made a confusing, ridiculous spectacle more fun than it had right to be. He was rightly upset when he was knocked out. heroic!
(During the dunk contest, Giannis was also the biggest hype man of all. Bless his heart.)
2. Evan Mobley
He won the Skills Challenge by hitting a half-court shot on his first attempt. He is also, according to Cav’s point guard Darius Garland, “literally a unicorn”which, hard to argue!
3. Karl-Anthony Cities
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His advocacy for the greatest shooting great man of all time got a boost, but not For real need tonight. First up, Towns finished with 22 points in round 1 of the three point contest, tying him up with Trae Young and sending him to the final round with Luke Kennard. Then, minutes later, Towns dropped an absurd 29…the highest score in the last round… ever— becoming the only center in NBA history to win the three-point game. (Dirk Nowitzki is the only player bigger than Towns to win.)
Towns was also the only contestant who didn’t really have to bend his knees when he fired every shot. No one makes swishing threes look easier than Towns.
How someone performs on Saturday night’s All-Star does not affect whether they qualify for an All-NBA team. But this was a good reminder of how incredible CAT has been all year. Behind Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, no big man has been better this season.
4. DJ Khaled
They said he would never perform on All-Star Weekend. But this was his third appearance on All-Star Weekend. And before that, Khaled brought Mary J. Blige, Ludacris, Lil Wayne, Migos, Gunna and Lil Baby to the same stage. All this man does is win. Don’t hate. Be awesome.
We try to be positive here. This is a winner’s column. But even though Obi Toppin won the worst slamdunk match in years by flipping some weird kind of layup between the legs, let’s go in a different direction: I don’t care what anyone says, Cole Anthony got robbed in the first round . Wearing tightly laced Timberlands in a Greg Anthony Knicks jersey, he snatched the ball from his father’s hand and threw down a thundering windmill. Unfortunately, the judges didn’t appreciate the dunk’s immense difficulty and Cole didn’t make it past the first round. This was a mockery of the highest order.
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