The NBA All-Star Weekend is a star-studded event that pays homage to some of the best current players in the league (every year features a snub or three). The weekend is packed with various activities culminating in the All-Star Game itself.
One of the features is the All-Star Celebrity Game, which features celebrities on both ends of the spectrum. For one evening, A-listers and B-listers (and even some C-listers) alike can live out their hoop dreams in a watered-down game that includes retired NBA players and, in recent years, WNBA players. The game has a major sponsor (because: NBA) and raises money for an earmarked charity. This year, the event was hosted by Ruffles potato chips, which brought back the 4-point line for the entire game (instead of just the second half in last year’s celebrity game), and donated $4,000 for every shot made from the 4-point line to sports that fostered inclusion in partnership with the Special Olympics.
[sidebar: Was a this a trial run before incorporating the 4-point line into the regular NBA season sometime in the near future? Stay tuned.]
Since the All-Star Game was held in Charlotte, NC this year, naturally almost every player who had a tie to Charlotte basketball had a part in the weekend’s festivities. One of those players was none other than Gamecocks women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley, who was the point guard of the WNBA’s now-defunct Charlotte Sting from 1999-2005.
Thank you @renzocardoni for the quick turnaround. You brought apart of @wnba history back in time for the @nba all-star weekend in the Queen City. Looking forward to rocking more custom pieces. Love up! #nbaallstarweekend2019 pic.twitter.com/o15WFSM5pr— dawnstaley (@dawnstaley) February 16, 2019
Staley was tapped to coach the Home team of the celebrity game and she brought along some reinforcements in Gamecocks associate head coach Lisa Boyer and former Gamecock star/reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces.
The Home team got off to a hot start, but let the Away team get within two points in the second quarter behind the hot shooting of former Boston Celtics/Miami Heat 3-point sniper Ray Allen (who could still help out some current playoff-bound teams, even though he’s been retired for three years. Ball don’t lie), and the coaching of 3-time WNBA champion Sue Bird of the reigning champion Seattle Storm.
But Staley did what Staley almost always does: adapts and overcomes. Some key substitutions allowed the Home team to come back and squeak out a nerve-wracking 82-80 win in the final seconds of the 4th quarter behind a clutch block from retired NFL Carolina Panthers player Steve Smith.
Not that fans of the game expected anything less than excellence from the highly decorated Staley. This included Wilson, who honored her former coach by wearing Staley’s Charlotte Sting jersey to judge the All-Star Dunk Contest.
Alas, Staley and Boyer didn’t have time to bask in the afterglow of the Celebrity Game win, as they ushered the Gamecocks to Florida to face the Gators in what ended up as a 71-40 road game blowout over Florida.
The magic of Staley keeps flowing. Bless up.
Thanks for stopping by.