NEW ORLEANS — The NBA's All-Star weekend is a working trip for Damian Lillard, set to become the busiest All-Star ever.
For Carmelo Anthony, it's a chance to get away from work.
The league's midseason event has something for everyone, along with the belief that its All-Star weekend is second to none in sports. It starts Friday afternoon with the announcement of the finalists and direction electees to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and finishes up with the game Sunday night at the recently renamed Smoothie King Center.
"The NBA, we have the best All-Star, No. 1 because it obviously lasts the entire weekend. We do a great job of celebrating our legends, I think we do that better than anybody else," Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley said. "It's the greatest thing the NBA does well."
The last All-Star weekend in New Orleans, in 2008, was a particularly good one, with Dwight Howard donning a Superman cape to win the slam dunk contest and LeBron James winning the game's MVP award after helping the Eastern Conference hold on to beat the West.
Lillard has a chance to be the star of this weekend, since he'll be involved in everything. The Portland guard, last season's Rookie of the Year, will become the first player to compete in five events. A first-time All-Star selection, he'll also take part in the Rising Stars Challenge for rookies and second-year players, will defend his title in the Skills Challenge, and is entered in the dunk and 3-point contests.
"It's obviously something that nobody has done before and I was presented with the opportunity, and they're all events that I feel like I'm capable of competing in, so I figured, 'Why not make history?'" Lillard said in an interview with the Trail Blazers' website.