The annual NBA All-Star weekend is set to begin this Friday in Salt Lake City, Utah. It will be the first time since 1993 the city has hosted All-Star weekend. LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will be the captains of both squads. This will be both players’ third time as captains together since the NBA adopted the new format in 2017.
The NBA announced Karl Malone as a judge for the Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday night. The reserves and starters have already been announced along with the contestants for the dunk contest, three-point contest, and skills challenge.
The biggest announcement came earlier this week when they announced James will be honored at halftime for passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s all-time scoring record. This will cap an incredible two weeks of celebration that he has experienced from fans and athletes all over.
James has been battling an ankle and foot injury that has kept him sidelined for three games. He did return last night in the Lakers’ blowout win over the Pelicans, but there is speculation on how much fans will see the 38-year-old on the court in Sunday’s All-Star Game.
King James Receiving His Flowers
Abdul-Jabbar handed James a basketball as a symbol of him passing the torch on the night he passed the former Lakers center in scoring.
He was one of many that gave the king his flowers. The TNT crew also gave James his flower in the postgame celebration on their award-winning show “Inside the NBA.”
His wife Savannah threw him a exclusive after party where close friends and family honored the incredible achievement as well. He also received a lot of love and support on social media. Many of the current NBA fans grew up watching his whole career unfold, even dating back to his high school days as the No. 1 player in the country.
The Lakers followed that up two days later and honored James at home before their Feb. 9 matchup against the Bucks.
Then, he was honored by the NFL at the Super Bowl on last Sunday in Arizona, but it was met with a few fans booing him. Understandable though, as James made a mockery of their beloved Suns in Game 3 of the first round in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.
Now, finally, the NBA will give the James a grand stage to be honored by the whole NBA world. The All-Star Game is the biggest stage for the NBA outside of the finals.
Shaquille O’Neal asked the question to James in the Feb.7 postgame interview that everyone in the NBA world was thinking.
O’Neal asked, “Does this now make you the greatest player of all time?”
“I’m going to let everybody else decide who that is or talk about, but it’s great barbershop talk,” said James.
“No, I want to hear you say it. Say it Bron-Bron. Say it with your chest, ” O’Neal interrupted.
“I’m going to take myself against anybody that’s ever played this game. Everyone is going to have their favorite but I know what I have brought to the table,” replied James. “I know what I bring to the table every single night and what I can do out on this floor. I always feel like I’m the best to ever play this game but there is so many other great ones and I am just happy to be a part of the journey.”
Fans forever will pit Michael Jordan against James but it is truly no way to determine. Jordan has the edge in NBA championships, scoring titles, Finals MVP, NBA championships, Defensive Player of the Year award, career scoring average, regular season MVP awards, and nine All-Defensive selections. Of course, Jordan has always been revered as one of the clutchest players of all-time.
James has the edge in total career points, Finals appearances, total rebounds, total assists, All-Star appearances, and Olympic gold medals. His off-the-court achievements have carried strong weight in the GOAT debate as well. Also, James has always been one of the most beloved by fans and competitors because of his nice personality.
Jordan, along with Kobe Bryant, was always viewed as a guy “who will cut your throat.” There is no way to determine the best of the two because they played in two different eras, but we can still appreciate the greatness of both.