Fun NBA All-Star game farewell for Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade
Kevin Durant of Team LeBron and Stephen Curry of Team Giannis have different reactions to a play during the NBA All-Star game.(Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)
Kevin Durant is awarded the NBA All-Star game MVP trophy after Team LeBron’s 178-164 win over Team Giannis.(Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)
Stephen Curry of Team Giannis throws a behind-the-back pass while on a fast break during the NBA All-Star game.(Jeff Siner / Charlotte Observer)
Team captain LeBron James drives down the lane between Blake Griffin, left, and Kemba Walker of Team Giannis during the first half of the NBA All-Star game.(Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)
Magic Johnson speaks with fans on the court during the second half of the NBA All-Star game.(Chuck Burton / Associated Press)
Miami star Dwyane Wade reacts to a play during the NBA All-Star game.(Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)
Team captain Giannis Antetokounmpo throws down a reverse dunk during the first half of the NBA All-Star game.(Chuck Burton / Associated Press)
LeBron James reacts to a play during the first quarter of the NBA All-Star game.(Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)
Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns of Team LeBron throws down a dunk over opposing team captain Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks.(Chuck Burton / Associated Press)
Heat guard Dwyane Wade of Team LeBron follows through on a three-point shot during the first half of the NBA All-Star game.(Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)
Warriors forward Kevin Durant of Team LeBron grabs a rebound during the second half of the NBA All-Star game. Durant was selected most valuable player of the game.(Gerry Broome / Associated Press)
Rapper J. Cole performs at halftime of the NBA All-Star game.(Gerry Broome / Associated Press)
Warriors forward Kevin Durant of Team LeBron checks rival team captain Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks during the first half of the NBA All-Star game.(Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)
Warriors guard Stephen Curry of Team Gainnis is all smiles as he catches his breath during a break in play at the NBA All-Star game.(Chuck Burton / Associated Press)
Lakers forward LeBron James and All-Star game teammate James Harden of the Rockets relax during a break in the action at the NBA All-Star game on Sunday.(Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)
Rapper Meek Mill performs before the NBA All-Star gameon Sunday.(Gerry Broome / Associated Press)
Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker, right, leans down to hug children along the baseline during Team Giannis practice on Saturday.(Jeff Siner / Charlotte Observer / TNS)
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Hamidou Diallo hangs on the rim after leaping Shaquille O’Neal and dunking elbow deep on the rim.(Chuck Burton / Associated Press)
Thunder guard Hamidou Diallo is congratulated after a dunk by teammate Russell Westbrook.(Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)
Thunder guard Hamidou Diallo rises over rapper Quavo for a dunk during the championship round.(Jeff Siner / Charlotte Observer / TNS)
Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins grabs the backboard while soaring for a dunk.(Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)
New York Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. elevates to the rim for a dunk.(Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges attempts a dunk after passing the ball through his legs.(Chuck Burton / Associated Press)
Brooklyn’s Joe Harris holds the trophy after winning the three-point contest.(Gerry Broome / Associated Press)
Warriors guard Stephen Curry lines up a shot during the three-point contest.(Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)
Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard reaches for the next basketball he will shoot during the three-point contest.(Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)
Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma holds aloft the MVP trophy for the Rising Stars game after he scored a game-high 35 points.(Chuck Burton / Associated Press)
Clippers guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander tries to steal the ball from Knicks forward Kevin Knox during the Rising Stars game.(Chuck Burton / Associated Press)
Dallas Maverics owner Mark Cuban, center, sits with newly acquired forward Kristaps Porzingis during the Rising Stars game.(Chuck Burton / Associated Press)
Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma elevates for a dunk during the Rising Stars game.(Chuck Burton / Associated Press)
Raptors forward OG Anunoby takes flight for a between-the-legs dunk during the Rising Stars game.(Chuck Burton / Associated Press)
WNBA star A’ja Wilson gets past Bad Bunny (94) for a layup during the second half of the celebrity game.(Gerry Broome / Associated Press)
Home team coach Dawn Staley, left, speaks with assistant coach Lisa Boyer, middle, and A’ja Wilson (22) during the second half of the celebrity game.(Gerry Broome / Associated Press)
Former NFL star Steve Smith drives to the basket for a shot against TV show host Hasan Minhaj during the celebrity game.(Jeff Siner / TNS)
Actor JB Smoove fights for rebounding position with NBA Hall of Famer Ray Allen during the celebrity game.(Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)
The ball left Dirk Nowitzki’s hand like it has thousands of times during his professional career, rising toward the rafters before cannon-balling down to the basket.
The first shot he took Sunday, in likely his last NBA All-Star game, came from deep behind the three-point line on the right wing and splashed through the net, the rim untouched.
The second shot, from the same spot but on the other side of the court, splashed through the same way. A third, from almost the identical spot, also went in.
Nine points on three shots in less than four minutes — a perfect way to go out if it’s indeed Nowitzki’s final season.
“That was obviously awesome,” Nowitzki said. “I wanted to just play a few minutes and hoist up a three and that’s exactly what happened. The first one, I was a little deep. But it’s the last time on this stage, I’m going to go for it, and it went in. The second one I thought, let me step back a little more and see what happens, and it went in too. It was a fun all-around weekend.”
Nowitzki, averaging just 4.7 points in limited minutes during his 21st season with the Dallas Mavericks, hasn’t announced if he’ll return next year.
“I want to see how my body feels the last couple of weeks — if I get to see any improvement, if it’s still fun — and I guess we’re going to make that decision later,” he said Saturday.
Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, who like Nowitzki was added to the game by Commissioner Adam Silver, already announced this will be his last season. He had seven points, making two of four shots, and connected with LeBron James for an alley-oop dunk among his four assists in 10 minutes.
During a ceremony honoring the two players before the fourth quarter, Wade said he thought it would be easy to walk away from the game after 16 seasons because of all the talent left on the court.
“I’ve done everything in this game, and I’ve done it over and over again. Missing this game? Missing playing in front of 20,000? Missing this stage? You know you’re going to miss that,” Wade said after the game. “But it’s easy to walk away and understand the game is in great hands. And I’ve given what it was meant for me to give to this game. I’m not leaving everything — but I left a lot.
“And right now, I want to walk away with my health, I want to walk away with my head held high, and I’ll be able to do that after this season.”
Walker’s now the biggest buzz
Portland Trail Blazers guard Seth Curry joked with his father, Dell, recently that if the All-Star game had come to Charlotte two years earlier as originally scheduled, the Hornets could have announced him as the franchise’s all-time leading scorer.
Since then, Kemba Walker has passed the Curry patriarch, moving to the top of the team’s scoring list with 11,329 points. That he got to reach that milestone in what’s become his home city moved him.
“When I got introduced, I kind of got goosebumps at how loud the crowd was for me,” said Walker, an All-Star starter for the first time in his eight-year career after making the game as a reserve the last two years. “I just really appreciate that. They showed me a lot of love.”
Walker, an unrestricted free agent after the season, has expressed a desire to remain in Charlotte. LeBron James said Walker made the Hornets relevant. Stephen Curry, who grew up in Charlotte with Seth and his family, also is impressed.
“Kemba, he’s breaking all these records, and it’s unbelievable to see, one, how he’s established himself as a premier NBA player,” Stephen Curry said. “But to do it here in Charlotte and get the city behind him and give them something to root for, I think it’s pretty special and something I respect so much.”
Various All-Stars expressed support for Colin Kaepernick after he and Eric Reid settled their collusion grievances against the NFL.
“I stand with Kap; I kneel with Kap,” James said. “I feel what he was talking about nobody wanted to listen to. Nobody wanted to really understand where he was coming from. I think that anybody that would sacrifice their livelihood for the betterment of all of us, I can respect that. And he’s done that. …
“I hope it’s a hell of a lot of money that can set not only him up but set his grandkids up for the rest of their lives. And I hope that the word of what he did will live on through American history but also world history because it’s important for all of us, not only African Americans, but everybody that wants to stand up for something more important than them.”
Said Kevin Durant: “A lot of people don’t agree with what Kap is doing, but I do. And I’m going to stand behind him and support him.”
Both players wore Kaepernick-branded clothing to games before the All-Star break.
Kaepernick and Reid kneeled during the national anthem as San Francisco 49ers teammates in 2016 to protest police brutality and social injustice, especially against African Americans. Unsigned as free agents, they filed a grievance in 2017 against the NFL, alleging collusion by the teams to keep them out of the league. Reid was signed by the Carolina Panthers last season, but Kaepernick hasn’t played since 2016.
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