The crowning moment of the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend, the All-Star Game itself held last Sunday evening was the first in a new paradigm shift for this annual gathering of the best and most stand-out in America and the world’s foremost professional basketball league. This time, rather than dividing the players into Eastern Conference-Western Conference, two top fan-voted NBA stars were given rosters determined by the conference players’ own votes plus polls from the fans and media. Following a hard-fought four quarters, the team led by LeBron James prevailed against that of rival Stephen Curry.

As noted by ESPN, the resulting NBA All-Star game between Team LeBron and Team Stephen turned out to be surprisingly competitive in nature, with an increased effort on the parts of the players in terms of defending their respective baskets. This intensified fighting spirit from the competitors could be attributed to the better player incentives for going into the All-Stars, including payouts for each of them as well as to their charities. The lead-up to the game itself at the STAPLES Center was quite the spectacle, with appearances from Shaquille O’Neal, Rob Diggle and Fergie, who sang a weird eyebrow-raising rendition of the national anthem.

Heading into the game itself, Team Stephen built up an early lead as reported by CNN. They outpaced Team LeBron by as much as 11 in the first half, courtesy of All-Star newbie Karl-Anthony Towns. Captain Curry however was playing under his usual level. Not until almost the end of Q2 did he finally manage to sink a shot, and Team LeBron almost managed to end that with them on top were it not for Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo. With Team Stephen still leading at Q4, 136-128, Team LeBron’s Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving worked to whittle the advantage.

Finally, with the game tied 144 even, LeBron and Irving would help edge Team Stephen out, and with some solid defensive play the 2018 All-Star Game saw Team LeBron win the evening 148 to Team Stephen’s 145, a close finish.

While the new roster rules made for a revitalized match-up between the best of the NBA today, viewer ratings were notably down from last year, with only 7.7 million who tuned in compared to the 7.8M from 2017. This could be attributed to the All-Star Weekend competing for TV time against the ongoing 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The last time the Winter Games and the NBA All-Stars clashed was in 2014. On that regard, this year was an improvement in ratings compared to the one four years ago, when the 2014 All-Star Game only racked up 7.5M while more tuned in to the Olympics at Sochi, Russia.

Photo courtesy of CTV News

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