The NBA and Hollywood joined forces over the weekend for musical performances, parties, a Black Panther dunk, an interesting rendition of the National Anthem, and, oh yeah, some basketball.
After a seven-year absence, the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend returned to Los Angeles, with an emphasis on “star.” In addition to the biggest names in basketball past and present, A-list entertainers such as Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, Diddy, Beyoncé, Kevin Hart, Chris Rock, Justin Bieber, and Jamie Foxx were regulars throughout the festivities.
The action kicked off Friday night at Staples Center with the Celebrity All-Star Game featuring Foxx, fresh from an interview walk-off; Bieber, the MVP in 2011; and Quavo, the MVP of Migos and this year’s game. Afterward, Kendrick Lamar closed out the evening right outside the arena with a delayed, but dynamite performance.
But like in most years, it was Saturday that marked the high point of the weekend. Migos, Chance the Rapper, Justin Hartley, Julianne Moore, J. Cole, Adam DeVine, and Ellen Pompeo were among those in attendance for State Farm All-Star Saturday Night, and its main event, the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest, with judges Chris Rock, DJ Khaled, and Mark Wahlberg.
And as the Black Panther sensation swept the nation, Wakanda made its presence immediately known at the Staples Center. Leading off the competition, Victor Oladipo walked over to King T’Challa, himself, Chadwick Boseman, who handed him a Black Panther mask. The Indiana Pacers guard may have missed his first attempt, but he was able to throw it down, mask and all, on his next try. But Boseman wasn’t the only celebrity participant, as eventual winner Donovan Mitchell pulled three people from the crowd to assist him. Smartly, he went small, jumping over Kevin Hart, Hart’s son, and his sister for the dunk.
And once the basketball ended, the night really got started. Unlike many All-Star host cities, Los Angeles had almost too much to offer in terms of nightlife during the weekend; on Saturday night alone were were musical performances by The Killers, Kid Cudi (featuring the return to the stage of Kanye West) and T-Pain, which took place at the lively Budweiser Live set-up.
One of the biggest parties of the weekend traded in the club and dancing for cards. Stance and Dwyane Wade’s 4th annual Spades Tournament has become a signature of All-Star weekend, with media, celebs, and NBA stars going head-to-head. “We just thought it would be a great event to bring to All-Star weekend because there’s so much partying going on and you’ve got different crowds,” Wade tells EW. “You’ve got the older crowd of people who maybe don’t want to party but want to hang out.” Among those hanging out: Wade, wife and actress Gabrielle Union, James Harden, Jimmy Butler, and Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan.
After everyone hopefully got a few hours of sleep and some hydration, the weekend concluded with Sunday night’s All-Star Game. In addition to the star-studded front row, headlined by everyone’s favorite six-year-old Blue Ivy Carter, the lead-up to the game included big names and awkward moments.
Kevin Hart, Rob Riggle, Jamie Foxx, Ludacris, Adam DeVine, and Queen Latifah collaborated on a long musical introduction, which many probably believed would be the most uncomfortable performance of the night. But then came Fergie. The Grammy-winner sang a very different rendition of the National Anthem that somehow went over even worse in the building than it did on television, with laughter spreading through the stadium at the sight of a confused Draymond Green.
Oh, and then, there was a game to play. With the NBA switching up the format, abandoning the conference allegiances and having LeBron James and Stephen Curry draft the teams, there was an urgency and intensity that had been lacking in recent years, perfectly demonstrated by Team LeBron’s last-second defensive stand sealing the win.
If you’re keeping count, that makes two Kings emerging victorious this weekend.