2024 All-Star

10 standout moments from 2024 NBA All-Star weekend

From State Farm All-Star Saturday Night to the All-Star Game, these moments elevated a big weekend in Indiana.

Damian Lillard was named the Kia NBA All-Star Game MVP after the Eastern Conference All-Stars defeated the West by a record-setting score of 211-186.

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INDIANAPOLIS — Three games separate the top four in the West, while the Boston Celtics seem squarely in control of the East with a six-game lead on the field.

We’ll resume discussing it all again once the NBA jumps back into action Thursday with a 12-game slate to tip off the fast-approaching stretch run of the season.

But first, let’s continue what’s becoming an annual tradition of pointing out 10 standout moments from another fantastic NBA All-Star weekend in Indianapolis:

1. Dame’s time finally came

Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard earning a starting nod for the East stirred debate. But the vet showcased his pedigree Sunday in becoming the first player in NBA history to win the 3-Point Contest and All-Star Game MVP in the same year.

Lillard joins Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, Glen Rice and Larry Bird as the only players to capture both awards throughout their careers.

The NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award is a first for the eight-time All-Star. Lillard played his first seven All-Star games as a member of the Western Conference, before heading East back in October as part of a three-team trade.

Lillard scored 39 points in the East’s 211-186 win. The teams churned out the highest-scoring first half in NBA All-Star Game history (190 points between the teams) as Lillard posted 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting.

The East All-Stars also became the first team in All-Star Game history to score 200 points or more.

2. More Steph and Sabrina, please

Arguably the most lethal shooter in NBA history, Stephen Curry surely pondered the likelihood of becoming prey in the first-ever NBA vs. WNBA 3-Point Challenge at 2024 State Farm All-Star Saturday Night.

But the Warriors guard heated to sizzle status precisely when needed to edge Sabrina Ionescu, 29-26, in a captivating competition at Lucas Oil Stadium.

New York Liberty star Ionescu opened the competition by sinking seven straight shots en route to a score of 26. (That total, by the way, tied for the top score notched by any NBA player earlier that night during the Starry 3-Point Contest.)

Curry won by draining every rack from the left and right wings and jogged to the final all-money-ball rack down six. After misfiring on his first attempt, Curry hit the last four to seize victory. The friendly competition between friends was arguably the most entertaining event from a Saturday night in Indianapolis to remember.

More, please.

Curry and Ionescu hinted at future battles in the aftermath and even discussed the possibility of each teaming with partners. Imagine Ionescu and Iowa sharpshooter Caitlan Clark teaming up next season for 2025 NBA All-Star weekend in San Francisco.

See the nets burning?

3. Repeat champions

Lillard successfully defended his title in the Starry 3-Point Contest, while Mac McClung took his second-straight AT&T Slam Dunk contest crown in a showdown with Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown.

Colleague Shaun Powell cleverly nicknamed McClung’s winning dunk the “Mac-A-Shaq” and boy, it was a doozy from the 6-foot-2 highflyer, who jumped over the 7-foot-1 Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal for a reverse jam. McClung became the first player since Zach LaVine (2015 and ’16) to repeat as dunk contest champion.

Lillard, meanwhile, dramatically took his second-straight title, too, nailing his final shot of what had been a hotly contested competition. Keep in mind the massive Lucas Oil Stadium seats 67,000, which means sight lines were likely tricky.

“You see a crowd in front of you, but to my right is like way out there,” Lillard said. “I can just see a crowd way up high, far away. So, it just threw me off a little bit.”

We couldn’t tell.

4. All-Star in Indy isn’t complete without the greats

You knew we couldn’t write a recap about NBA All-Star weekend in Indiana without mentioning arguably the state’s best players.

Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird, two of the best Indiana-raised players to star in the NBA, started off Sunday’s All-Star Game alongside former Pacers great Reggie Miller.

Bird also appeared at the NBA All-Star Tech Summit two days prior and recalled his “who’s coming in second?” line, which he famously said ahead of the 1986 3-Point Contest. In the locker room before the event, Bird asked his upcoming opponents who was playing for second place, intimating he was planning to win.

He did. Fitting finish for the Indiana native and Hall of Famer who earned 12 NBA All-Star nods, won three championships, three NBA MVPs awards and two NBA Finals MVPs.

Filmmaker Spike Lee honored Robertson in the third quarter of Sunday’s game alongside Indiana native and comedian Mike Epps and former Pacers star Jalen Rose. Earlier in the weekend, the NBA and Pacers announced plans to commission a statue of Robertson in front of Indianapolis’ legendary Crispus Attucks High School.

5. The Victor Wembanyama experience

We won’t get into it too much here because we’ve already got you covered on all things involving the 20-year-old French phenom. The 7-foot-4 Spurs rookie wasn’t selected to play in the 73rd NBA All-Star Game. But it’s safe to say Wembanyama left Indianapolis as one of the weekend’s brightest stars.

The No. 1 overall pick competed in the Panini Rising Stars at All-Star 2024 as well as the Kia Skills Challenge at 2024 State Farm All-Star Saturday Night.

He unveiled his Nike GT Hustle 2 PE’s for All-Star weekend, which feature an alien on the heel that he drew himself. Wembanyama even hilariously flexed his acting chops at the 24th annual NBA All-Star Technology Summit alongside commissioner Adam Silver, calling the 1986 movie “Hoosiers” (set and filmed in Indiana, by the way) his favorite French film.

The rookie showed he can nail impressions, too.

Expect to see Wembanyama at NBA All-Star weekends for years to come.

6. Bennedict Mathurin takes over

Many came to see a Wembanyama-Chet Holmgren clash. But Pacers star Bennedict Mathurin provided an exciting alternative Friday in the Panini Rising Stars at All-Star 2024.

The second-year guard scored 18 points and drilled the game-winner for Team Jalen in a semifinal victory over Team Tamika, finishing as the event’s MVP.

Mathurin missed a pair of free throws with a chance to win late as Indiana teammates Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner and Obi Toppin watched courtside.

He atoned on the next trip down the floor by knocking down the game-winner on a turnaround jumper. Naturally, the “M-V-P” chants rained down immediately at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

“It was fun to see, to receive those chants,” Mathurin said. “I haven’t really gotten that feeling in the NBA. One day I want to be MVP.”

7. Pacers continued to rep Indiana

Indianapolis’ hometown team didn’t stop at Mathurin’s MVP.

Nope, the Kia Skills Challenge at 2024 State Farm All-Star Saturday Night marked the third straight year in which the home team walked off the floor victorious.

This time, Team Pacers (comprised of Haliburton, Mathurin and Turner) did it at Lucas Oil Stadium (the home of the Indianapolis Colts), seizing the first two rounds worth 100 challenge points apiece. Team-All Stars (Scottie Barnes, Tyrese Maxey and Trae Young) took the 200-point shooting round.

For the third consecutive year, the Skills Challenge came down to a tie-breaker round, comprised of half-court shots. Haliburton swished his half-court bucket for the win more than 20 seconds faster than Team All-Stars accomplished the feat.

“We felt like there was a lot of energy in the building,” Haliburton said. “And good for people to see our city for what it is, rather than, when they come here, they don’t really go out because we play the next day or whatever. They can actually enjoy the city.”

Speaking of Indiana, did you catch native Babyface’s awesome performance of the national anthem?

8. High-tech court debuts

We’ve seen that technology is synonymous with the NBA. So, is anyone surprised someone devised the idea to build a 27-million-pixel floor to compete on for 2024 State Farm All-Star Saturday Night?

The new floor debuted at the 2024 Ruffles NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, and it’s still surreal that the league held all these entertaining events on what was essentially a massive Jumbotron.

It’s more complicated than that, of course. The digitized floor can display graphics, video, interactive games, and even animations that track players’ movements with graphics such as a trail of stars.

The floor was built by ASB GlassFloor, and the technology behind it is LumiFlex, a 27-million-pixel LED screen that sits under a glass sport-court surface. The LED panels are mounted to a frame with air-conditioning installed to keep the lights and everything else underneath cool.

The league has said it doesn’t plan to implement these floors soon.

But we certainly caught a glimpse of the future. It’s bright.

9. Will NBA get into youth development?

Commissioner Adam Silver sure made it seem that way Saturday at his annual NBA All-Star Game news conference.

Responding to a question about the 2-19 G League Ignite, Silver said the NBA is in “the process of reassessing Team Ignite,” adding that “now my focus is turning to earlier development of those players.” Silver pointed to the fact that nearly 30% of the NBA is comprised of players born outside the United States.

“It’s clear development is very different in many of those programs outside of the United States, more of a focus on practice, less of a focus on games, which seems to be the opposite of many of the youth programs in the United States,” Silver said.

That has led to discussions with the NCAA, as the league shares a common interest with that institution in improving the game by developing players. United States players enter the NBA highly skilled, according to Silver. But, that doesn’t mean they’re adequately prepared to play team hoops in the most-competitive league in basketball.

“So, I think there’s an opportunity for us to be part of the community that’s developing younger players, elite players,” he said.

10. Welcome return to old format

The NBA returned to the original Eastern Conference versus Western Conference, 48-minute format for the 2024 NBA All-Star Game after experimenting with alternative set-ups in recent years.

Silver acknowledged the change was made “because we thought what we were doing was not working.”

The move drew rave reviews from players, including Lillard, who explained that last year’s format threw off players due to uncertainty about which team they’d ultimately land on ahead of tipoff for the game.

Remember, All-Star 2023 in Utah featured the captains format, which was first introduced in 2018. That game added a new twist involving those captains picking their teams in a live “draft” from a stage near the court.

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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on X.

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