The 66th NBA All-Star Game will be Sunday at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.
It’s more about entertainment than a game, but some of the shots, passes and dunks serve as a thank you to the league’s fans, who pack arenas annually for the classic.
Regardless, it’s one-stop shopping for the best in the NBA.
The game is Sunday, but it’s actually a celebration weekend with many other festivities.
Here’s a look at the NBA All-Star Weekend:
Slam dunk contest
A staple of the weekend, the slam dunk contest on Saturday night is still a big draw.
Creativity waned for a few years, but Zach LaVine of Minnesota inserted new energy into the event with his spectacular dunks.
LaVine will not compete this season.
Keep an eye on Aaron Gordon of Orlando. Also in the contest are DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers, Glenn Robinson III of Indiana and Derrick Jones Jr. of Phoenix.
Arguably, long-range shooting has surpassed the slam dunk contest in popularity.
That’s mainly because of Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who are both in Saturday’s field for the 3-point shooting contest. Thompson is the defending champion.
Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews is in the field. Matthews is shooting nearly 40 percent from 3-point range.
The most recent Mavericks player to participate in the event was Dirk Nowitzki in 2008. Nowitzki won the event in 2006.
Each participant shoots 25 balls, five balls on five racks spaced around the 3-point line, in one minute.
The rest of the field includes Kyrie Irving, Klyle Lowry, Kemba Walker, C.J. McCollum and Nick Young.
He’s got skills
If you’re looking for a teaching film and to have fun at the same time, this is it.
The Taco Bell Skills Challenge has been reworked to feature guards against big men, pitting them in a test of their speed, ball-handling and shooting.
Saturday’s format will have two players competing at the same time on an identical course with the fastest finisher reaching the next round. In the first round, the eight players are paired to participate in four head-to-head competitions. The four winners advance to the second round, where two more head-to-head showdowns determine the two finalists.
Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns won the event last year.
Among the new participants this year is 7-foot-3 New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis, the tallest player in the NBA.
The rest include Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Gordon Hayward, Isaiah Thomas, John Wall, Devin Booker and Joel Embiid
Euless Trinity and University of Texas standout Myles Turner will be one of 20 players in Friday’s BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge.
Turner, in his second season, is averaging 30 minutes, 15.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game.
The players were selected by the league’s assistant coaches.
The format pits 10 first- and second-year players from the United States against 10 first- and second-year players from around the world.
Among those on the World team is Emmanuel Mudiay, who was born in Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and attended Arlington Grace Prep.
Cuban’s got game?
There will be celebrities aplenty this weekend.
Among them is the always colorful and knowledgeable Mark Cuban. The Mavericks owner will play Friday in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.
Cuban, who will play for the Western Conference team, isn’t the only NBA owner in the game. Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry will play for the Eastern Conference team.
The All-Star Game is in New Orleans this year, but that wasn’t the original plan.
The All-Star Game had been scheduled to be held in Charlotte, N.C. In July, the league moved the game in keeping with the NBA’s stance on a controversial state law (House Bill 2) that it believes discriminates against members of the LGBT community.
The game was awarded to New Orleans in August.
The league hopes to reschedule All-Star Weekend in Charlotte in 2019, presumably after some changes to, or a repeal of, North Carolina’s House Bill 2, commonly referred to as the “bathroom law.”
The bill basically requires transgender people to use the restroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate, rather than their self-identified gender. The bill also has other elements involving wages and employment.
Hall of Fame nominees
Former Dallas Mavericks great Mark Aguirre, high school coaching legends Robert Hughes of Fort Worth Dunbar and Leta Andrews of Granbury, along with Baylor’s Kim Mulkey are among the nominees for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
Hughes and Andrews were finalists the past two years.
Finalists from the North American (men and women’s) committees for the Class of 2017 will be announced Saturday.
The Class of 2017, including those selected by the direct elect committees, will be unveiled April 3 at the Men’s NCAA Final Four in Phoenix, Ariz.
Enshrinement festivities will take place Sept. 7-9 in Springfield, Mass.
Pierre Jackson of the Texas Legends is scheduled to play in the NBA Developmental League All-Star Game on Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Jackson has had two 10-day contracts with the Mavericks, but was one of the leading scorers in the D-League this season. Jackson appeared in nine games with one start for the Mavericks.
If healthy, Jackson, who has been nursing some injuries, will play for the Western Conference All-Stars. The Western Conference also has Baylor-ex Corey Jefferson of San Antonio.
Mavericks guard Yogi Ferrell was voted to the Eastern Conference All-Stars, but he has since turned a 10-day contract into a two-year deal with Dallas and won’t play in the game.
The Eastern Conference has former Texas A&M standout Jalen Jones of Maine. The Eastern Conference is coached by Jerry Stackhouse.
Also, beginning with the 2017-18 season, the D-League will be renamed the NBA Gatorade League (NBA G-League) as part of a multiyear expanded partnership. This marks the first time a U.S. professional sports league has named an entitlement partner.
NBA All-Star Weekend schedule
New Orleans, La.
6 p.m. NBA All-Star Celebrity Game (ESPN)
8 p.m. BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge (TNT)
10 a.m. Naismith Hall of Fame finalists announcement
1:30 p.m. NBA D-League All-Star Game (NBA-TV)
7 p.m. State Farm All-Star Saturday Night (TNT)
▪ Taco Bell Skills Challenge
▪ JBL Three-Point Contest
▪ Verizon Slam Dunk Contest
7 p.m. 66th NBA All-Star Game