Students gear up for 56th-annual NBA All-star game

Once a year, favorable NBA All-Star players come from the east and west coast to battle it out on the court in a three weekend event called the NBA All-Star game. This year 56-annual All-Star game will air live on TNT, ESPN Radio and in over more than 200 countries and territories on Sunday, February 18th at 8 p.m. ET played in Las Vegas.

During this weekend long celebration, fans get the chance to see their favorite players from NBA teams across the globe come together as one and battle it out for conference champions. From the Footlocker 3-point shoot out competition to the slam dunk contest sponsored by Sprite, fans can see their All-Star favorites compete against each other not just in a basketball game but in other various athletic activities.

“The slam dunk contest is my favorite event,” said Phil Cooper, a junior mass communications major from Pittsburgh, Calif. “It is very exciting to see all the tight dunkers come out because they all bring their A-game.”

Through the 2007 NBA All-Star Balloting program, NBA fans worldwide were given the opportunity to vote for their favorite players. Players with the most votes became the starting players for both conferences. According to the NBA website, there were a total of 69.1 million votes cast this year, which is a 17 percent increase from last year. Fans could vote for their favorite players by either logging onto or, at 1,250 T-Mobile-owned retail locations and also at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Joining Yao Ming as part of the Western Conference starting lineup is his current Rockets’ teammate Tracy McGrady, who will be appearing in his seventh All-Star Game. San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, who has been selected to every All-Star team since he entered the league in 1997, and Minnesota’s Kevin Garnett, who captured All-Star MVP honors in 2003, will be the starting forwards. Concluding the roster for the Western Conference is Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who was the youngest person to play in an NBA All-Star game in 1998, making this his ninth appearance in the All-star game.

Lebron James will be joined in the Eastern Conference frontcourt by Shaquille O’Neal and Toronto’s forward, Chris Bosh, who will be making his first career All-Star start. Gilbert Arenas from the Washington Wizards will also make his first career All-Star start. Dewayne Wade will make his second consecutive start and third straight appearance.

“I am routing for the East,” said Calvin Haynes, junior marketing major from Dallas, Texas. “Mainly because of Shaq, he doesn’t have that many years left in the NBA and I want to see him go out on top!”

Mary J. Blige, Christina Aguilera, and Toni Braxton will be performing at All-star game activities. Blige will perform during the NBA All-Star Saturday Night slam-dunk and 3-point shooting competitions which take place on Saturday night, February 17th. To pay tribute to the league’s social responsibility initiative, NBA Cares, Blige will be singing the U2 hit “One.” Aguilera will headline the NBA All-Star Game halftime entertainment segment, along with Toni Braxton, on Sunday.

This years All-Stars uniforms will be sponsored by the first time in history by Adidas.

Last year, the game was held in Houston, Texas with the East capturing the title with the final score East 122, West 120. James was named the 2006 MVP player, which made him the youngest MVP in history.

Next year, the NBA All-Star 2008 game is projected to be held in New Orleans, according to the NBA Commissioner David Stern. The 57th All-Star Game will be played at New Orleans Arena, home of the NBA’s Hornets, on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2008.

“I think that having the All-Star 2008 game here in New Orleans is going to be great,” said Haynes. “It will have a huge economically growth on the city. It will bring money, excitement, and become