NBA All-Star Game 2016: West defeats East 196-173
The 2016 NBA All-Star Game has ended with the West defeating the East 196-173. It was legendary Kobe Bryant’s final All-Star appearance in his storied NBA career and the Los Angeles Lakers’ veteran finished with 10 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds.The Air Canada Centre in Toronto was packed for the NBA All-Star Game, the annual contest that pits the league’s best against each other in a fierce battle to see who can make the most highlight plays.For the record Toronto hosted the very first NBA game on November 1, 1946. Fireworks burst behind Lakers star Kobe Bryant as he entered his final All-Star game in arguably the biggest game he’ll play as his career winds down.Magic Johnson, another Laker legend, toasted Bryant during a pre-game ceremony.Bryant thanked the roaring crowd who chanted “Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!” repeatedly telling them how happy he was to be playing in the All-Star Game.”It’s thrilling to be here,” Bryant said.”Tonight’s all about Kobe.”Toronto born rapper Drake introduced the starting lineup before joining director Spike Lee courtside to watch the game.Singer Nelly Furtado unconventional take on Canada’s national anthem alongside Native American flutist Tony Duncan sparked an immediate negative reaction on social media which saw her trend for all the wrong reasons.Only a handful of tweets on her performance among the one i saw were positive.Its worth noting that Cirque du Soleil, an acrobatic troupe did a wonderful act by showcasing tributes to basketball and was mesmerized to see performers fly through the air as projected graphics created the illusion they were slam dunking into hoop.
The first quarter began on a high with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James starting the game off with a jump ball at center court, and Kobe winning the tip for the West. Russell Westbrook scores the first points of the game as the West took a 2-0 lead. That lead was short-lived, however, as the East came storming back with a wave of threes and dunks. With 4:44 left in the first quarter, Kobe Bryant scored his first basket of the game right before coaches for both teams made several lineup changes. The West team narrowed the gap, but at the end of the first quarter, the East lead 43-40.Second quarter saw the East keep their lead for most of the quarter, but the West surged ahead in the final two minutes. At halftime the West lead the East with 92-90. Paul George of the Indiana Pacers leads all scorers in the game with 16 points for the East. Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs leads the West team with 13 points, while Kobe Bryant tallied 10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. As a guzzled coffee to keep myself awake, i was delighted to see Kobe Bryant and LeBron James having a great time going one-on-one at times with smiles all around.However, the Cleveland Cavalier’s poster boy LeBron got the better of Kobe whenever they faced off. Came the halftime show biz activities and despite the rumors that Canadian rapper Drake will perform, hopes were dashed as UK singer Sting took to the stage churning hits like “Message in a Bottle” and “Every Breath You Take”,“Next to You” and “Desert Rose.” It was the most boring halftime show I have watched for the past 20 years I have been watching NBA all stars games and even basketball fans looked subdued during the halftime show, which should remind organizers to reserve such activities for high energy acts.Am not a fan of his music but Ne-Yo also performed very well.Overall, the halftime show was a flop in my opinion.
After a dull halftime show, it was back to business which saw the West stretch their lead midway through the third quarter as James Harden and company took the match to the next level but on the other side LaMarcus Aldridge was doing the opposite as he failed spectacularly to shine with his All-Star Game performance. To me, he was the least impressive with 4 points on 2-8 shooting, 4 rebounds and had his shot swatted away around the rim by Carmelo Anthony.In the end, the West had145 while the East were trailing with 136 at the end of the third quarter.Enter the fourth quarter and West pulled away from their rivals.It was Rossell Westbrook show as he really came alive in the end as the West defeated the East Team, 196-173 to win the 2016 NBA All-Star Game. No doubt Paul George was sensational for the East, leading all scorers in the game with 41 points. Paul George who plays for Indiana Pacers fell just short of the NBA All-Star Game scoring record just one point shy of Wilt Chamberlin’s record of 42 points.Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder won the 2016 NBA All-Star Game MVP Award his second time in a row winning the trophy by leading the West Team with 31 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals.It was the highest-scoring ever All-Star game and while Bryant didn’t provide much of the offense he provided many of the memories.LeBron James finished with 13 points to move ahead of Bryant for most ever in the All-Star Game. James has 291, while Bryant, who is retiring after this season, leaves with 290.In the end, the main attraction was Kobe Bryant bidding an emotional farewell from his 18th and last All-Star Game.Bryant said his All-Star Game goodbye and the next generation of the West’s best sent him off a winner, rolling to a record-setting 196-173 victory over the East on Sunday night.“It was fun,” Bryant said. “I had a blast playing with those guys, laughing and joking with them on the bench.”On my part, it was worth burning the midnight oil and wish Kobe Bryant all the best in his retirement.Surely, I gonna miss his presence but his past exploits in the game will forever in my mind.See u again in Charlotte in 2017 oracles willing.