NBA All-Star Weekend. Sports’ most underwhelming and, for lack of a better word, dumb weekend. For those of you unfamiliar with what happens it’s a whole weekend of basketball related activities: a dunk contest, three point contest, skills competition, and it culminates in the actual All-Star game. It’s a time where players get a physical and mental break from the regular season and they get to show off a little bit. There are always a bunch of celebrities, many I haven’t heard of, in the crowd and it all feels perfectly careless.
This year, three Marquette Alumni took part in the festivities: Juan Toscano-Anderson participated in the dunk contest, Jimmy Butler was an All-Star and played in the game on Sunday night, and Dwyane Wade was one of the commentators for the weekend on Turner Sports’ broadcasts.
Let’s kick this off with Dunk Contest talk!
The Dunk Contest has two rounds with two dunks in each round. The two athletes with the highest combined score from the first round move on to the second round.
For his first dunk Juan Anderson used a red, white, and blue ABA ball signed by Dr. J himself, Julius Erving, and he popped on a custom Mexican flag Golden State Warriors jersey, which is super cool btw. He called over his Warriors teammate Andrew Wiggins and did a sick windmill dunk overtop of his 6’7 teammate.
Here’s the dunk:
His second dunk was a ‘simple’ 360 windmill, here it is:
With those two dunks, he racked up enough points to progress on to the final round, where he was pitted again the New York Knicks’ Obi Toppin. The final round works the same as the first round where the highest combined score on two dunks wins. For Juan’s first dunk, he tried to do a windmill and hang on the rim by his elbow. It didn’t quite work out that way. He didn’t have the height to get his arm far enough down the rim that he could hang and just kinda dunked it. Since it was a completed dunk and the ball went through the hoop he couldn’t redo it and had to stick with an underwhelming score.
His second dunk of the final round would’ve been insane if he had gotten it to go. Wearing the appropriate throwback Warriors jersey, JTA attempted a Jason Richardson classic dunk: He tossed the ball out in front of himself and after catching it off of the bounce put it between his legs. After than maneuver he’s pretty much right in front of the hoop, and would dunk it over his head from the side. It’s really hard to explain but you can tell from the video what he’s going for. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get it down.
The dunk contest has a bunch of rules that need to be changed, but one of them is that each contestant gets three ‘attempts’. An attempt is defined as a swing of the arm down towards the rim. Juan hit his three attempts for this dunk and had to go with the lowest possible score.
Honestly, for what the dunk contest has devolved to over the years, Juan Toscano-Anderson killed it. The custom Mexico jersey was really really cool, and using a Dr. J signed ball was also a good choice.
Onto the real event of the weekend, the actual All-Star Game:
Since the 2005 game, a Marquette alum has featured in the All-Star Game in every year except 2021. If you’re reading this article I probably shouldn’t have to tell you who the two guys are that make up all of those selections. But, for the sake of those who somehow can’t even guess: It’s Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler.
This year Jimmy represented Marquette on the court, and in his sixth All-Star game was drafted to represent Team LeBron. Overall, he had a pretty lackluster performance (as much as you can really judge a basketball game where the players have comparatively little motivation to win). He put up just two points, one assist, and two steals in the nine minutes of game time he saw.
In the absence of literally any highlights from Jimmy’s All-Star game showing, here’s a highlight reel for all of the plays that got him his All-Star selection this season:
Actual basketball aside, let’s move on to what was definitely the most fun part of the night: The commentators. Dwyane Wade was on the call all weekend offering his insight into what it’s like to be an All-Star and contributing to what was overall an extremely disjointed broadcast in the best possible way. That’s the nature and fun of the All-Star weekend though: disjointedness in the best way.
This all came to a head during the aforementioned dunk contest where Juan Toscano-Anderson was trying to throw down some dunks. In support of the guy who went to the same college as him (someone needs to come up with a word like countrymen but for college grads, and better than “fellow alumni”), Wade chanted “We Are Marquette” as Juan was dunking.
This happened a few times, and play by play announcer Brian Anderson joined Wade in the chants. Some of you might recognize Anderson’s voice as the Milwaukee Brewers play by play announcer, but he also does games for the NBA sometimes which is why he’s included on the All-Star broadcast.
Afterwords Anderson tweeted out:
This moment was the best of both nights that I watched. Getting to hear Dwyane Wade chant “We Are Marquette” in front of, maybe, millions of people on the live broadcast and millions more on the videos of Juan’s dunks. Here’s one clip of the chants, more can be heard in the videos of Juan’s dunks embedded above:
Well, that’s the All-Star Weekend. Marquette’s connections to the NBA run deep, and it showed in a big, big way these past few days. They better keep Dwyane Wade and Brian Anderson on the call for next year’s festivities, and who knows, maybe we’ll get some more chants out of them.