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NBA All-Star Weekend Preview: LeBron James returns to Cleveland

Homecoming king LeBron James and Lakers legend James Worthy will represent the purple and gold in their corresponding events at 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend.

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2021 NBA All-Star Game Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the majority of the regular season in the books and the trade deadline behind us, the basketball world will now turns its focus to the annual NBA All-Star weekend happening in Cleveland, Ohio this week. And, as always, the best current (and rising) superstars in the league will headline the three-day event.

The Lakers will be represented by the brightest star of them all, homecoming king LeBron James, who is the general manager, captain and starter for his own All-Star squad, Team LeBron. Another Lakers legend that will make an appearance is three-time champion, fan favorite and current Spectrum SportsNet analyst James Worthy, who will probably unleash his frustrations on this year’s Lakers team when he coaches for Team Worthy in the Rising Stars tournament.

Jokes aside, there’s still a lot to look forward to, despite the limited Lakers representatives this weekend. From the new Rising Stars tournament format, to the sometimes-memorable, sometimes-not Dunk and 3-point contests, to the 71st NBA All-Star Game, here’s everything you need to know about what’s going on, and where you can watch it.

Friday night

As mentioned above, Worthy will coach his own team against Rick Barry, Gary Payton and Isiah Thomas’s own squads. But unlike in the past, this year’s Clorox Rising Stars tournament will operate in a rebooted format.

The 28 players — consisting of 12 rookies, 12 sophomores and four members from NBA’s G League Ignite developmental team — were drafted and will play at least one game each. Worthy’s team will take on Thomas’ team first, while Barry’s squad will face Payton’s. The winning team from each bracket will square off in the finale.

And like the past two All-Star games, this year’s Rising Stars competition will have it’s own target score instead of a running clock to end the game. Games 1 and 2 will be played until one team reaches 50 points, while Game 3 (the finale) will be played until the to-be-crowned champion reaches 25 points. In short, the first team to reach 75 points (in commemoration of the NBA’s 75th anniversary just in case you didn’t catch that) takes home the trophy.

The Rising Stars tournament will tip-off by 6:00 p.m. PT, and will be televised nationally on TNT. Prior to this anticipated event, the Ruffles All-Star Celebrity Game will also be televised nationally on ESPN at 4 p.m. PT. The All-Star Celebrity Game rosters will be coached by NBA legends Bill Walton and Dominique Wilkins. You can check out the roster of stars (and pseudo stars) for each team here.

Saturday night

The rebooted Taco Bell Skills Challenge will kick off arguably the most thrilling night of the weekend, followed by the Mountain Dew 3-point contest and AT&T Slam Dunk tournament to cap off the night. Sadly, no current Laker will participate in any of these events, but the selected players should still provide ample entertainment.

And unlike in previous years, this season’s Skills Challenge will showcase three teams — the Antetokounmpo brothers, the Cavaliers and Rookies — who will compete in a new format that will test their overall passing, shooting and dribbling abilities.

Meanwhile, some notable names to look out for in the 3-point contest are Patty Mills, Luke Kennard and Trae Young, AKA everyone who shot lights out against the Lakers this season.

For the Slam Dunk Contest, look out for Cole Anthony, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Obi Toppin and Jalen Green to hopefully put on a thrilling show.

The second night of the All-Star weekend will tip-off by 5 p.m. PT. All events will be televised on TNT. You can see the full rosters for each event below:

Sunday night

Will Team LeBron stay undefeated? Who will bring home the new-look Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP trophy? Will the game be as exciting as the one we saw in 2020? Or a bit predictable like last year?

There’s a ton to look forward to in this year’s All-Star game, which will also feature Miami Heat head coach Erick Spoelstra (who will coach for Team Durant) and Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams (who will coach for Team LeBron).

James’ team consists of four MVPs in himself, Stephen Curry, Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic. Their supporting cast isn’t too shabby as well featuring notable superstars like DeMar DeRozan, Jimmy Butler, Luka Doncic, Donovan Mitchell, Fred VanVleet and hometown All-Stars Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen.

So yes, it’s safe to say that — unlike with his actual team this season — the King will have enough help this time and has the advantage (at least talent-wise) in this year’s competition.

2021 NBA All-Star Game Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On the opposite side of Team LeBron lies Team Durant, who unfortunately won’t have Kevin Durant and Draymond Green due to injuries.

Still, Team Durant has enough talent in Joel Embiid, Young, Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker, Zach LaVine, Khris Middleton, Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and LaMelo Ball to put up a fight. It’s going to be interesting to see which All-Star seizes the moment and shines the brightest on Sunday night.

Speaking of All-Stars who shine the brightest, the NBA will host a halftime ceremony during the All-Star game to honor its 75th Anniversary Team. Of course, expect some of the Lakers awardees (who have the most members on the Anniversary team) to be in attendance. James, Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will for sure be in town to claim their well-deserved recognition.

The All-Star game will tip-off by 5 p.m. PT, and will be televised on TNT.

Stay tuned to Silver Screen and Roll for continuing coverage of the various Lakers-related angles of the All-Star game as the weekend rolls along, and hang out here in the comments to chat about all the various events.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani