NBA All-Star 2024: Winners and losers of the weekend showcase, including Damian Lillard, the Lakers and an LED court

NBA All-Star Weekend 2024 is in the books, so its time for the annual event's winners and losers ...



Given the frequency of 60- and 70-point performances this season, scoring was a major topic of conversation at All-Star Weekend. Just about everyone was asked if they would change the rules to address the explosion, and all of them answered as you would imagine. Shooters would not change a thing. Defenders would.

And then everyone abandoned defense entirely for the actual All-Star Game.

The East made a record 42 3-pointers on a record 97 attempts (43.3%) and scored a record 211 points in a 25-point win over the West. Any one of Tyrese Haliburton (32 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists), Jaylen Brown (36 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists) and Damian Lillard (39 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists) could've been MVP.

Lillard won the award. The hometown Haliburton probably should've won. He made his first five 3-pointers, transitioned to setting up his teammates and then made a late push to the Indiana crowd's delight. His 32 points came on 15 shots (14 3-pointers, 10 of which he made) to Lillard's 39 points on 26 shots (11-of-23 3-pointers).

"I was just going to keep shooting until I missed," said Haliburton.

Even more records fell Sunday. The two teams also combined for the most points (397), field goals attempted (289), field goals made (163), 3-point attempts (168), 3-pointers made (67) and assists (106).

"I think people who are fans of the game, they love it," said Lillard. "They enjoy being entertained. I think it could be more competitive. I think our game right now is a fast-paced game. We play a lot of games. The game also probably has more injuries than it's ever had. Trying to manage your body, to protect yourself and not get injured and take away from what you ultimately want to accomplish is something we prioritize."

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - FEBRUARY 18: Damian Lillard #0 of the Milwaukee Bucks and Eastern Conference All-Stars shoots the ball against the Western Conference All-Stars in the fourth quarter during the 2024 NBA All-Star Game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on February 18, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Damian Lillard launched from halfcourt two times during the All-Star Game ... and made both. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Last year's champions

Lillard and Mac McClung repeated as 3-point contest and dunk contest champions, respectively.

Lilllard scored 26 points in the first round to force a four-way tie with Karl-Anthony Towns, Trae Young and Tyrese Haliburton. Lillard advanced out of the tiebreaker and beat Towns in the final round with ... 26 points.

"Last year, the final round was a much lower score to win," said Lillard. "Nobody really shot the ball great, so that one was fun, winning the first one. This one, everybody shot at a pretty high clip in the first round, the tiebreaking round and the final round. Everybody shot well. This one was a little bit more fun and rewarding because we had to really shoot it in to win. That's what feels good, doing it two times in a row."

McClung followed a similar script to win his second straight contest, save for one incredible dunk: He took the ball from someone's head, flipped it up to himself and threw down a reverse we'd never seen before.

"I'm trying to sit with it right now and take a second and understand what's going on," said McClung, who participated on behalf of the G League's Osceola Magic. "I feel like life is so fast sometimes. I'll look back in 20 years when I can't jump anymore and not as quick. I know I'm a lucky dude. That's about it right now."

Unfortunately for the NBA, neither Lillard nor McClung immediately committed to return for a three-peat. Only Larry Bird (1986-88) and Craig Hodges (1990-92) have won three shootouts. Both did it consecutively. Nate Robinson is the only three-time dunk contest winner. Nobody has done it three times in a row.

The Los Angeles Lakers

In potential unrestricted free agencies past, LeBron James has not been committal about his future, often referring back through the year to a preseason quote about concentrating on helping his team that season.

This time, though, James made clear his desire to remain a Laker.

"I am a Laker, and I've been very happy being a Laker the last six years, and hopefully it stays that way," said James, prior to making a record-setting 20th showing in the All-Star Game. "I don't have the answer to how long it will be or what uniform I'll be wearing. Hopefully, it is with the Lakers. It's a great organization with so many greats. We'll see. I don't know how it's going to end, but it's coming. It's coming, for sure."

Of course, he could decline his $51.4 million option for next season, forget he ever said this or figure out a way to blame the Lakers for his exit, but he put his intentions on record, and all we can do is trust them.

Luka Dončić

This shot, though.

Women's basketball

Sabrina Ionescu gave Stephen Curry all he could handle in their "Stephen vs. Sabrina" shootout, scoring 26 points to his 29. Those 26 points matched a four-way tie for the top score from the first round of the 3-point contest and Damian Lillard's winning score in the final round. If anyone doubted whether a woman can hold her own against the greatest shooter in NBA history, Ionescu made sure nobody could question that again.

As she said afterward, "If you can shoot, you can shoot. It doesn’t matter if you're a girl or a boy."

"Don't discount who's to your left and to your right," added Curry. "If they can shoot, they can shoot."

The 1-on-1 showdown between Ionescu and Curry was surely the driving force behind the NBA's best Saturday night ratings in four years, given how underwhelming the rest of the evening's festivities were. The 10 million viewers who tuned into "Stephen vs. Sabrina" were a 54% increase from last year, the NBA said.

The success of Saturday's event already has Curry and Ionescu conjuring ways to expand it next season.

"We've been talking about finding different ways to change this up next year," said Ionescu. "I think he has a partner in mind that's going to join him, so I'm open to any partner that can help me take that belt."

In another example of how collaborative men's and women's basketball is becoming, LeBron James included Caitlin Clark in his conversation about the possibility of someone scoring 90 points in a game.

"A lot of you guys have asked, what does it feel like to be in a zone?" James said on Sunday. "Once a guy's in a zone, there's nothing you can do. If a guy decides he wants to stay in the zone, or you've seen Caitlin the other night, when she broke the record, there's nothing you can do. There's nothing you can do."

Pearl Street Pizzeria and Pub

If you ever find yourself in Indianapolis, find this spot in an alley, take a seat at the bar, order the stuffed portobello mushroom pizza (regular crust), complete with three meats, and have yourself a hell of a time.

And tip your bartenders.



It's a bit of an "old man yells at cloud" situation, but where has all the competition gone? All-Star Games of the 1980s and 1990s featured at least a little defense. These were warmup-level 3-pointers and layup lines.

"Guys are too talented," said Lillard. "They're going to make a lot of 3s. That's the kind of game it's going to be. I think 200 is a lot to be scored. It just shows that we didn't go out there and compete like you would want us to, but that's just what it is. Guys are talented, make a lot of shots, hit a lot of 3s, and that was it."

Or, as legendary NBA writer Bob Ryan put it way more harshly ...

"There were some discussions [about playing harder]," added Celtics star Jaylen Brown, who said last year's game "wasn't basketball," either. "There were definitely some. I'm not sure how successful that was, but there was definitely some discussions. I guess guys are trying to figure out how to do that at the same time as having fun, being safe, being injury-free. I guess more solutions need to be had to figure that out."

The East led by double digits for most of the night, took a 27-point lead in the third quarter, and it didn't seem like the West even cared but for a brief spate of defensive activity. When players started jacking halfcourt shots with plenty of time left on the shot clock, you knew it was over. If it wasn't over for most of the night.

On Saturday night, NBA commissioner Adam Silver assured fans this year's game would be more competitive than recent years, and in the immediate aftermath on Sunday he appeared frustrated it wasn't.

"To the Eastern Conference All-Stars, well, you scored the most points," he said. "Congratulations."

Long live the Elam Ending, which the NBA abandoned this year for reasons unsaid.

Guy Fieri's cigar

I must've seen the "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" host a handful of times throughout the weekend, and he had a cigar in his mouth the entire time. I hope they were different cigars, but who could say? They looked like they'd been doused in the juice of one of those giant cheeseburgers he's demolished on television.

When someone asked Fieri about the slobber-soaked cigar, he said, "It's for the BMFIC." And when someone — it might've been the wonderfully named 2 Thin from Indiana's dunk team — naturally asked what that meant, Fieri fired back: "Bad Mother F***er In Charge." Ladies and gentlemen, Guy Fieri.

Kenny Smith

Curry needed to make three of his five moneyballs on the final rack to defeat Ionescu, and, of course, he made four, but the WNBA star pushed the NBA's all-time leader in 3-pointers made to his final chances.

For some reason, TNT broadcaster Kenny Smith figured the very moment that Curry defeated Ionescu was a good time to say, "She should have shot from the women’s line. That would have been a fair contest."

What a shame. Smith did his worst to detract from an otherwise spectacular event between two classy competitors. Given the chance to choose between the NBA's 3-point line (23 feet, 9 inches), or the WNBA's stripe (22 feet, 1.75 inches), she opted for the further distance. You know, just to make it a fair contest.

Indianapolis sidewalks

Snow covered the streets of Indiana's capital on the first day of All-Star Weekend, and there was no salt to be seen. The icy sidewalks were catching victims left and right, including the sneakers and outfits of people dressed to impress the collection of past, present and future basketball icons gathered in the Midwest cold.

The judges

Let's start with the Skills Challenge, which needs to go. Nobody cared, not even the players. The rules were entirely unclear, and the atmosphere in Lucas Oil Stadium reflected that, but one rule that was explained: You had to throw a bounce pass through the (enormous) middle circle during the passing part of the challenge.

Bennedict Mathurin did not do that on the pass that decided a tiebreaker — and ultimately the outcome. Not that it mattered. His Indiana Pacers won partly because the All-Stars who participated did not even try. Anthony Edwards shot left-handed, and Scottie Barnes heaved his decisive halfcourt attempts backward.

In the 3-point contest, with an official staring at his feet, Karl-Anthony Towns' shoes were on the line for at least three of his makes from the corner in another tiebreaker, which decided who faced Lillard in the final.

And in the dunk contest, Jacob Toppin's 360-degree through-the-legs dunk was robbed. Jaylen Brown scored more points for a no-look dunk in which he forgot the no-look part. There was no other conclusion to reach but this: The judges wanted the first All-Star since 2018 to make the final, dunks be damned.

Even the mascots were robbed. Officials penalized Benny the Bull in this weird dribbling contest between him and Pierre the Pelican, even though Chicago's mascot avoided the obstacle that triggered a restart.

Justice for mascots. Justice for all!

The LED court

My eyes are still recovering from that lime green. Good night.