The common sentiment surrounding All-Star weekend is generally that it is a letdown. This is a fair assumption because, understandably, players are not going to risk injury in a game that matters for very little. However, when it came to the actual game last year, the changes to the traditional All-Star format seemed to have reinvigorated the game.
For all the hype surrounding All-Star weekend each year, the big disappointment always seems to be Saturday night. The skills challenge is generally average. The three-point contest is fun but lacks the intrigue of the dunk contest. The real issue comes with the dunk contest. Such brutal expectations surround the competition, it is rare for the dunk contest to not disappoint. The major anomaly was three years ago when Zach Lavine and Aaron Gordon squared off in one of the best renditions of the contest of all time.
Even with that said, when your team has a player competing in any of the competitions over the weekend, it is much watch TV. There’s a certain amount of pride you take in watching your hometown team compete.
On Saturday night, both Damian Lillard and Seth Curry took part in the three-point contest. Playing in their home state, Seth was joined by both brother Steph and father Dell Curry to kick off the event. As stated at midcourt, Dell Curry was rooting for the younger Seth. You and I both, Dell. Unfortunately, Joe Harris had to go and ruin everyone’s fun, finishing with 26 points in each round.
Neither Lillard or Curry fared particularly well, each being eliminated in the first round. Lillard finished with 17 and even beat the buzzer on his last shot. Curry went for 16, before being quickly outdone by a group that had five participants get over 20 points.
While Curry’s participation ended Saturday, Lillard had one more event on his schedule for the weekend. Having been picked by Team LeBron, Lillard had nine points in the first half and, for the first time in an All-Star game, saw consistent minutes throughout.
The second half, predictably, is when things started to heat up. Good thing for Blazers fans, Lillard Time was at the center of all of it. Before moving on, let’s take a second to discuss the Lillard Time vs Dame Time dilemma. When introduced at the All-Star game, the term Dame Time was used. However, throughout the telecast and for most of his career, Dame’s second half displays have been referred to as Lillard Time. My vote is for Lillard Time, I think it sounds better. But, then again, nobody cares about my vote anyway, so let’s move on.
Heading a second unit that featured Lillard alongside Bradley Beal and Klay Thompson, the group came back from 17 down. In one five-minute spell, Lillard scored or assisted on 18 of Team LeBron’s 26 points. Nine of those 18 points were courtesy of three 30-footers that had his fellow All-Star’s in disbelief. With 18 point at the close of the third, Lillard Time had officially hit Charlotte.
As a fan, this was the first time I can remember seeing a Blazer close out the All-Star game. Joined by Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Lebron James, and James Harden, Team Lebron held onto the lead for a 178-164 win. If Lillard continued his hot streak into the fourth quarter, we could have held a very serious MVP discussion for the Weber State product. Nonetheless, All-Star Sunday was an excellent showing for Lillard, putting on a display worthy of praise.