Feb. 14, 2016 marked the date of the 65th annual National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star game. This year’s All-Star did something it had not done- be hosted outside the United States. The Toronto Raptors and the Air Canada Centre were the gracious hosts of this year’s NBA All-Star game. It was evident however, that when the NBA’s best packed up for Toronto, they forgot to pack their defense.
No one expects a lot of defense to be played or a lot of effort to be shown in an All-
Star game, but a record-breaking 196-point display by the Western All-Stars was not expected either. Granted, the West had 193 until reigning NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) Steph Curry hit a 40-foot buzzer-beating three pointer. The final score was 196-173 in favor of the Western Conference All-Stars. The total points scored were 369, remarkably one point shy of the NBA record.
Russell Westbrook, a point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder, took home the All-Star MVP honors after putting up 31 points, dishing out five assists, and grabbing eight rebounds. This is his second consecutive All-Star MVP, making him the second player in NBA history to get the award two years in a row after Bob Petit. Paul George of the Indiana Pacers had the highest scoring output with 41 points for the Eastern Conference. George was just one point shy of tying Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star game scoring record set in 1962.
The main focus of the night was worldwide celebrity and basketball icon Kobe Bryant. Bryant declared at the beginning of the season that this, his 20th NBA season, would be his last. Kobe received not only a standing ovation from both the Eastern and Western conference All-Star squads, but also got the loudest and longest of the Toronto fans as he was the last starter announced for the game. Magic Johnson sent Kobe into the game with a phenomenal farewell along with a highlight video thanking him for his great years with the Lakers and recognizing him as one of the greatest ever to take the floor. Bryant finished his final All-Star game with 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
With dunks galore, players having fun both on and off the court and a memorable sendoff for a future Hall of Famer, this All-Star game was definitely something to remember. Kudos to Toronto for hosting and doing well at it.