Numerous Raptors performances at NBA All-Star Weekend

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Consider the Rising Stars portion of the Fixed Star Weekend.

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Normally an uneventful bid on the schedule, the decision to turn things around and play a tournament between four draft teams made up of deserving rookies, sophomores and G-League Ignite players was an instant success.

Perhaps the key was playing to a designated final score to hit and end the game that brought the excitement and competition to a level that previous Rising Stars games hadn’t even approached before.

Scottie Barnes and LaMelo Ball didn’t make it to the Gary Payton Team Finals, but it wasn’t for lack of effort as the two – and just about everyone in the three-game tournament – gave it their all .

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And it wasn’t just the players who were in it. Honorary team captains who drafted the team were as in as any of the players. Whether it’s Isiah Thomas pushing his favorite pre-tournament side to the final with his cheers on the sidelines or Gary (the glove) Payton riding the officials like only Payton can, hoping to give his team whatever advantage they could, it was clear that the outcome mattered to those involved and trumps anything the Rising Stars game had been in the past.

Precious Achiuwa was part of the Isiah team, which qualified for the final and was heavy in size and experience, explaining their privileged status at the finish.

They faced Rick Barry’s side led by hometown favorite Evan Mobley and first draft pick Cade Cunningham in a late Friday night final. Barry’s team was the only entry that ran scripted plays after a focused morning practice that stood in stark contrast to the other teams that basically got a few hits and called it a morning.

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Regardless of the outcome, the new leadership was welcome and those who made the decision to turn things around should be very pleased with this call.

A LATE START

All-Star Weekend started off a little slow for the younger Raptors in attendance.

Barnes and Achiuwa had their scheduled early Friday morning departures delayed by the winter storm that battered the GTA late Thursday and into the wee hours of Friday.

That meant Barnes and Achiuwa weren’t around for the Rising Stars’ morning workout and media availability.

It’s a safe bet that they would have liked to get to know their teammates for the Rising Stars challenge, but just as safe would be the bet that they didn’t really mind missing out on another media availability.

They are two of the three Raptors in Cleveland this week who officially represent the team, although head coach Nick Nurse said he will also make an appearance to support his players.

Fred VanVleet will take part in Saturday’s three-point shot as well as Sunday’s All-Star Game.

Achiuwa’s duties ended Friday night with the Rising Stars Challenge.

Barnes will also take part in the skills challenge on Saturday, which also took on a new twist with three-man teams competing in the various skills. Barnes will play on a rookie team with Detroit’s Cunningham and OKC’s Josh Giddy against a three-team Antetokounmpo consisting of the Greek Freak himself, his brother Thanasis and a third brother, Alex, who plays with the Raptors 905 G- Entry into the league. The final team is a trio of Cleveland Cavaliers consisting of Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland and Mobley.

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FOLLOW THE PATH

When the Raptors finally return to Scotiabank Arena for a March 1 game with the Brooklyn Nets, it will be in a much more familiar atmosphere.

Without fans, or at least without the semblance of an actual home crowd since late December, capacity will return to the usual 19,800 for this Nets tilt.

The MLSE also announced yesterday that it will follow the province’s lead and no longer require proof of vaccination to attend.

“Confidence in existing vaccination rates in the province and the current epidemiology of COVID-19 as determined by public health officials contributed to the decision,” Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment said in a statement. What won’t go away for now are masking requirements in the building.

“As part of each site’s existing health and safety measures, MLSE’s ‘Mask up or out’ mask mandate will remain strictly enforced and the company may re-impose proof of the vaccine mandate in the future if circumstances and public health guidelines require it,” the company said in their statement.

MANUAL FOR THE ROOM

A traditional part of All-Star Weekend is the announcement of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame finalists.

This class of years includes nine former returning finalists and two new additions to the roster in longtime San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili and three-time WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Lindsay Whalen.

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These two finalists join previous finalists again, including longtime NBA referee Hugh Evans, five-time NBA champion Michael Cooper, five-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway, consensus National Collegiate Player of the Year Marques Johnson, the two-time NCAA national coach. of the Year Bob Huggins, the NBA’s sixth all-time coach, George Karl, the all-time winningest high school coach, Leta Andrews, four-time WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Swin Cash, and NCAA National Champion and WNBA Coach of the Year Marianne Stanley.

This year’s inductees will be announced in New Orleans at the NCAA Final Four in April.

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