Donovan Mitchell has been in the All-Star Weekend spotlight before but he did most of his damage on Friday and Saturday night while sitting back and watching the All-Star Game on Sunday. As a rookie, he won the Dunk Contest with some high flying slams with jerseys worn by guys like former Jazz Dunk champ Darrell “Dr. Dunkenstein” Griffin and NBA Dunk Contest legend Vince Carter. He also had some nice highlights in the Rising Stars game including an off-the-backboard slam dunk.
Tonight was a night for Rudy Gobert to shine though. The two time Defensive Player of the Year had received previous accolades for his defensive prowess but didn’t get a lot of love from the voters in past years due to the nature of the All-Star game to be more about offense.
Rudy seemed like a decent early candidate for All-Star MVP as he scored 21 points which was the most of any bench player. He wasn’t too far off of the top three scorers on his team which were The Greak Freak (25), Joel Embiid (23) and Kemba Walker (22). He was also a monster on the boards and played a little defense with a block as well. Team Giannis was +9 with Gobert on the floor. Even Queen Latifah was impressed by some of his dunks.
While Donovan played alright in his limited action, he clearly struggled a little bit more in the shooting department this time. In his first All-Star game he realized that these aren’t your rising stars of tomorrow. These are the stars of today.
Donovan had fun commentating on the Rising Stars game on Friday Night and going crazy watching his friends Aaron Gordon and Derrick Jones Jr. compete in the dunk contest on Saturday. He was classy to give credit to both players for being deserving of being considered the best dunkers. While you can see from the stats that Donovan wasn’t great, that’s no reason to panic. This is an All-Star game so it shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
While Rudy and Donovan both sat on the bench in the fourth quarter, it was a plus because it was a very physical quarter for an All-Star Game. It would be devastating to get injured in a game that doesn’t count toward their record. Team LeBron once again prevailed and this time it was a thriller.
Team Giannis lost the first quarter, won the second, tied the third and lost the fourth. There was a new format this year. Each quarter was a game and whichever team won the quarter won money donated to the charity of their choice. Gobert and Mitchell were able to earn $100,000 for the After School Matters Charity.
The newly named Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP Trophy went to Kawhi Leonard who scored 30 points in the game. Team LeBron won by two points in a nailbiter. Anthony Davis was fouled and ahead 156-155. Only one free throw would win it. He bricked the first but got the second one in to be the first team to reach the 157 point mark to win the game.
This was a solid start for Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell that will hopefully be the start of new beginnings in future All-Star Games. The big weekend in the NBA makes its return to Salt Lake City in 2023 and the entire state would love a co-MVP to come to the state of Utah just like another guard and big man will have done 30 years before that. Stockton and Malone were the past but Gobert and Mitchell are the present and hopefully the future.