Amazing happened over the weekend, because the NBA was involved, and that's where amazing happens. Or something like that.
Anyway, the Bucks were involved in part of it.
They haven't had a player in the actual NBA All-Star Game since 2004, when sweet-shooting lefty Michael Redd was selected, but the team wasn't completely shut out of the weekend's festivities. Three representatives of the organization participated in events in Toronto, helping keep Milwaukee somewhat in the league’s consciousness during what was considered one of the most successful All-Star Weekends in NBA history.
Let's start at the beginning.
In the Celebrity Game on Friday, co-owner Marc Lasry demonstrated the intangible dadball skills that undoubtedly make him an impact player among hypercompetitive, begoggled hedge fund managers in Wall Street pickup leagues. The extroverted billionaire, who played one season of Division III hoops at Clark University in Massachusetts and jokingly noted that his intramural team won the championship, threw shade on the event’s star/coach/mascot beforehand.
"Honestly, I’ve watched these games, and Kevin Hart has won the MVP four times," Lasry said. "So how hard can it be?"
Lasry seemed to walk the walk, too, hitting treys before the game and then, during shootaround, warming up "how Steph Curry warms up" by doing this:
Sporting a white undershirt that matched his white hair, Lasry brought an unsightly-but-effective YMCA style, getting to the line early (but missing his free throws), flattening a Team Canada player with a hard foul a little later and eventually becoming best friends with the backboard.
According to his son, Bucks executive Alexander Lasry, the owner finished with eight points and six rebounds in 18 minutes.
Unfortunately for him and his mates, though, Team USA wasn’t able to overcome Hart’s detrimental hero-ball antics in the loss to Team Canada and its expatriate-activist MVP Win Butler, the Arcade Fire singer who was muzzled by ESPN after trying to talk about healthcare in his acceptance speech.
After the celebrities messed around for a little while (props to Jason Sudeikis, the bearded actor and comedian who rained down three-pointers with his model fiancée Olivia Wilde sitting courtside, pretty much personifying the fire emogee), it was time for the Rising Stars Challenge.
Second-year forward Jabari Parker, who missed out on the game as a rookie last season after tearing his ACL, appeared set on making up for lost time and leaving a lasting impression.
One of Team USA's starters, Parker had 12 points and five assists in its three-point win over Team World. He showed off an array of explosive dunks, stepped out for a three-pointer (it was scored only as a two) that titillated Bucks fans and gave super-hyped Latvian rookie Kristaps Porzingis a face full of posterized ‘Murica late in the game.
If not that one, then Jambari’s windmill in the first quarter may have been the dunk of the night.
And he followed that by sprinting back on defense on the next possession to block Nikola Jokic from behind. Gotta love exhibition-game hustle!
The vibe during what used to be the rookie-sophomore game was collegial and congenial, as peers openly cheered for each other and reacted rambunctiously to big plays. Parker’s hysterical responses on the bench displayed a fun-loving and unreserved side of Parker that was very cool to see.
Then on Saturday evening, subdued shooting guard Khris Middleton made his debut in the three-point contest. It was a star-studded cast that lit up the event, and Money Middleton couldn't really hang. The 24-year-old, who’s been in a bit of a slump the past few weeks, was maligned by TNT announcers ("no one knows who he is," Chris Webber said at the beginning, later adding, "he’s shooting like a first-timer") and never really found his stroke.
Middleton was eliminated in the first round with a low score of 13, which was only one point more than Hart had scored in his joke-turned-awkward-contest tie against Draymond Green. Must've been Khash's kicks.
Meanwhile, second-year point guard Tyler Ennis, an Ontario native, took part in an NBA meet and greet event, while Greivis Vasquez, a former Raptors guard, was a Basketball Without Borders instructor. Also over the weekend, Bucks legend Oscar Robertson received the league's Lifetime Achievement Award.
All in all, a decent showing by the Bucks in Toronto, though it still felt like something was missing without charismatic and athletic Giannis Antetokounmpo Greek Freaking around out there. Maybe next year.
I can't wait until I can watch Giannis during the All-Star game!! — Fear the Deer (@CalebJo50592264) February 15, 2016
Milwaukee now has four days off before returning to action Friday at home against the Hornets for an 80s Night featuring cover band Chevy Metal.
What was your favorite part of All-Star Weekend? Let us know in the comments.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.