Why Jazz fans should tune in to All-Star Weekend

Utah Jazz fans have plenty of reasons to watch All-Star Weekend, despite Lauri Markkanen's snub.

Lauri Markkanen in the 2023 NBA All Star Game
Lauri Markkanen in the 2023 NBA All Star Game / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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Despite an All-Star-worthy season thus far, Lauri Markkanen will not be playing in the All-Star game. This article won't have any of my crying or complaining--I'm all cried out. In recent years, All-Star Weekend has been losing its luster in the eyes of many NBA fans. In an article by Deseret News, they describe the severity of the All-Star Game's recent drop in viewership.

"The 2023 NBA All-Star Game averaged 4.59 million viewers, [...] marking the first time the All-Star Game has fallen below 5 million viewers.

Despite the best dunk contest in years and an entertaining 3-point Contest, All-Star Saturday Night also drew the lowest viewership ever. An average of 3.42 million tuned in on TNT, the first time All-Star Saturday Night has drawn an average of less than 4 million viewers."

Deseret News

All-Star Weekend used to be unmissable, but with the lack of serious competition in the All-Star Game, which is the main event of the weekend, many fans may choose to spend their weekend doing anything else, and I can't blame them. For Jazz fans, Utah won't have an All-Star to watch for the first time since 2020. So, as All-Star Weekend creeps forward, Jazz fans everywhere are probably asking themselves, "Should I even bother watching this year?" The answer is yes, you should. Welcome to the "Slightly Unenthused Jazz Fan's Guide to 2024 All-Star Weekend"

The Panini Rising Stars Challenge

Unfortunately, this is not a cook-off competition, despite what the name may suggest (although a panini grill-off might actually be a more exciting event). The Rising Stars Challenge is an opportunity for Rookies and Sophomores to display their talents to the league. Many of these young players are still finding a role in the NBA, but in an event specifically for newbies, you may get to see what all the fuss is about with the NBA's rising generation of stars. Walker Kessler and Keyonte George will be Utah's representatives in the 4-team mini-tournament. Kessler will play for Team Jalen and George will suit up for Team Tamika.

The Panini Rising Stars Challenge will begin on Friday, February 16th at 7 P.M. MST.

The Starry 3-Point Contest

Even though Markkanen won't be suiting up for the Western Conference All-Stars this year, he'll be a participant in the 3-Point Contest. He's been shooting 40.1% from beyond the arc this season and has been one of basketball's most efficient scorers, so seeing that he'll be joining isn't very surprising. The Finnisher will need to have a great shooting night to come out as the winner since he'll be participating against former champions Karl-Anthony Towns and Damian Lillard. The slate of participants also includes former Jazzmen Donovan Mitchell and Malik Beasley.

You can watch the 3-point contest immediately following the Skills Challenge, which will begin on Saturday, February 17th at 8 P.M. MST.

Truthfully, All-Star Weekend has to make some changes. Thankfully, the ridiculous team captain idea of picking teams is being abandoned for the traditional East vs. West format--that's a step in the right direction. But the All-Star jerseys are almost unanimously hated by NBA fans, the dunk contest is half and half NBA and G-League participants, and many events are nearly unwatchable. For Jazz fans, though, there are still reasons for you to tune in. Happy All-Star break!