The NBA made the first All-Star weekend since Craig Sager’s passing a memorable affair, expertly helmed as always by TNT’s Ernie Johnson. Sager, the longtime sideline reporter from Turner Sports who succumbed to cancer late in 2016, was the inspiration behind a slightly impromptu 3-point, half-court and eventual layup-shooting benefit at Saturday night’s All-Star festivities in New Orleans. A layup hit by Sager’s son Ryan marked a $500,000 donation made from the league and its sponsorship partners to the Sager Strong charity.
After a cadre of NBA greats both past and present rang up $130,000 worth of contributions which a cool $10,000 added for each 3-point make …
… Golden State’s Stephen Curry was asked down from the crowd to try his hand at nailing what could have been a $370,000 half-court shot. When his dozen or so attempts just missed, Johnson called Shaquille O’Neal and Craig’s son Ryan Sager out of the audience to put the capper on the round of donations.
Just minutes after Houston’s Eric Gordon won the 2017 3-point shootout, Ernie Johnson took the stage alongside participants Kemba Walker and Kyrie Irving. TNT analyst and Basketball Hall of Famer Reggie Miller then joined the commotion, calling All-Stars James Harden, DeMar DeRozan and WNBA superstar Candace Parker (all in street clothes) down to the floor. They were joined by actor Anthony Anderson and hip-hop mogul D.J. Khaled alongside actor Michael B. Jordan.
Harden and Parker (who ditched her shoes on her way onto the court) were noticeably impressive, hitting 3-pointers in civvies, while even D.J. Khaled got in a swoosh.
Stephen Curry, asked to move his shot back some 20-odd feet to the NBA half-court line, was not as successful.
And in the end, an organization devoted to sustaining the spirit of one of the more beloved figures in modern sporting history took in a massive windfall:
This. Is. Why. We. Play.
— NBA (@NBA) February 19, 2017
— meghan r????ther (@meghanrother) February 19, 2017
Why? Because the NBA has this sort of thing taken care of:
The NBA consistently gets it, and it's awesome
— max (@MaxRappaport) February 19, 2017
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