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An All-Star Weekend guide for Knicks fans

The Knicks are well-represented this year.

Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks
This is what it looks like when an All-Star celebrates.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Knicks will be well-represented during Sunday’s All-Star festivities, with Julius Randle participating in the big game and skills challenge while Obi Toppin competes in the dunk contest. Further, RJ Barrett is among the Rising Stars, although that game won’t take place this year. The future feels bright, doesn’t it?

The Knicks, 19-18, enter the All-Star break over .500 for the first time since Carmelo Anthony was having his finest pro season back in 2012-13. They won’t play again until March 11 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

For much of the last two decades, All-Star Weekend was a true break for fans of the Knicks. Sure, Kristaps Porzingis made the team in 2018, but he tore his ACL before he could represent New York in the game and was traded before he ever stepped foot on the court again. And yeah, Melo made it a handful of years in a row, but he was typically representing wretched Knicks teams, and one of those times he was hurt and put off knee surgery until after the All-Star game so he could enjoy a little time in the limelight.

This year, the Knicks have serious representation at the festivities, which will be toned down due to the ongoing global pandemic. Everything is happening on Sunday this time around. Let’s explore which Knicks are participating in what activities. We’ll start at the beginning, and finish at the end. Novel approach!

5 pm: Coverage begins on TNT

The Knicks most certainly won’t be the main topic of discussion, but with the way they’ve competed under Tom Thibodeau, and considering they have their own All-Star in Randle, you can expect to hear some nice things about the team from Ernie, Chuck, Kenny and Shaq.

By the time Barkley joined Inside the NBA in 2000, the Knicks were already on the other side of their 1990s success, so we’ve rarely had the chance to hear the Inside the NBA guys talk about the Knicks as anything other than a joke.

Expect Thibs to get some praise, and be prepared for New York’s success to be described like a massive surprise. Don’t get too upset; you didn’t think the Knicks were going to be this good this soon either.

6:30 pm: The Taco Bell Skills Challenge and MTN DEW 3-Point Contest.

Randle will attempt to become the first Knick to win the Taco Bell Skills Challenge since KP did so in 2017. Randle has displayed all the abilities necessary to win this, so it’s totally realistic that he’ll come out the victor. He will face stiff competition, including from Chris Paul and Luka Doncic.

The skills challenge isn’t the most exciting event, but tune in to support Randle. He’d do it for you (if the roles were reversed and he was just an average basketball fan while you were an All-Star on his favorite NBA team).

Following the skills challenge is the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest, which is being branded as the MTN Dew 3-Point Contest and not the Mountain Dew 3-Point Contest. Don’t you dare spell out the world ‘mountain.’ There are no Knicks in the three-point shootout, even though Frank Ntilikina is shooting 62% from deep.

And don’t go arguing that Ntilikina has only taken 21 threes all season and therefore obviously shouldn’t be in the contest. He’s 100% from three in his last two games and 67% over his last five games. Extrapolate his numbers out to a full season and assume he keeps nailing threes at the same rate, and it becomes clear Ntilikina is by far the best three-baller in NBA history.

8 pm: NBA All-Star Game (the AT&T Slam Dunk Contest is at halftime)

The All-Star Game is the main course of the night, so hopefully you’re still hungry by 8 pm. Randle was the 18th selection in the All-Star draft, picked by Kevin Durant. Might KD be planning to perhaps join Randle on the Knicks some day?

No, no he’s not planning that. But it’s nice that Randle wasn’t the last pick (the final two guys selected were Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert). Keep a keen eye on who Randle pals around with during the All-Star Game. This could be his chance to tell other All-Stars how great it is to be showered with MVP chants when your team is hovering right around .500. Imagine what Knicks fans would chant if New York was a top three team in the East?

At halftime of the All-Star Game, Toppin will compete in the dunk contest. Dunking has been the main thing he’s displayed the ability to do this year, so here’s hoping he’ll have a successful contest. It would be pretty remarkable if the Knicks somehow won the skills challenge, dunk contest and All-Star Game MVP all in the same night.

Don’t count out Obi. He can get up with the best of them.

BONUS: RJ Barrett is a Rising Star, Immanuel Quickley got snubbed

The NBA announced their Rising Stars teams, but there will be no game this year since the entire All-Star Weekend is being condensed to a single day. Barrett, who hails from Canada, is among the guys on Team World.

Perhaps by next year, Barrett could compete for a spot on the actual All-Star team. In the last four games before the break, Barrett averaged 20 points per game (58/57/72 shooting splits), plus 4.5 rebounds and 3 assists. Maybe him and Randle will be perennial All-Stars for years to come. Just a thought.

Somehow, Quickley didn’t make the cut. This isn’t the most important thing in the world, so there’s no use writing multiple sentences about how IQ is among the best rookies in the league this year, with a shot that sometimes looks as smooth as Steph Curry and an adorable enthusiasm about playing on the same court with his heroes.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, Quickley is one of the best free throw shooters in the NBA, not just when it comes to rookies.

But whatevs, don’t get too hung up on it. We’ll all be able to gloat when IQ is starting in the NBA Finals next season.