Michael Jordan will forever have the universal acclaim but when it comes to Chicago’s late 1990s dynasty, Steve Kerr is the player who beats even “His Airness” when it comes to respect.
The NBA was full of massive performances this week, with many players showcasing their abilities as All-Star votes opened.
Superstars, both on winning and losing teams, had shown up this week to carry their teams on the court. The return of fans to stadiums also saw a particularly high-profile confrontation between a fan and LeBron James.
1. Fred VanVleet’s monster performance
The Raptors have mostly been disappointing this season. After their dominance in the Eastern Conference over the last few seasons, the team has dropped out of the top eight early in the season and looks like a shell of the team they have been in the past.
However, the one player that has been playing really well for Toronto is Fred VanVleet.
VanVleet has upped his scoring numbers to 20.4PPG and had a monster game against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. The undrafted star scored a career and franchise high 54-points to help lead the Raptors to the win!
He hit 11-14 from the three-point line in an insane performance that easily tops his past career high of 36 points. VanVleet also set an NBA record for the most points ever scored by an undrafted player in a single game.
Truly, there is no one more deserving of the big game than VanVleet who had to fight hard to get into the NBA. Now, the young man has just set an NBA record and is on an $112 million contract.
He has stepped up his game from last season, and continues to be one of the best performers for this struggling Toronto team.
2. Kevin Durant’s bizarre health and safety situation
The Nets clash against Toronto resulted in Kevin Durant coming off the bench for the first time in his career (college and NBA). This was due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, as Durant had been in contact with someone who had symptoms and the NBA had to clear him to play.
Durant was allowed to enter the game with four minutes left in the first quarter, and played 19 minutes of the game against the Raptors. However, during a coach’s challenge on KD’s foul, the superstar was asked to leave the court.
This was very strange, since the Nets were still able to travel to take on the Philadelphia 76ers, with Durant being able to return to action on Saturday if he continues to record negative Tests.
3. First All-Star vote update
While there has been numerous debate among players about whether the All-Star game should go ahead, the NBA released the official vote count thus far last Thursday.
This vote count revealed that the Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant was the top vote getter with 2,302,705 votes, as the superstar is having an amazing season coming off his torn achilles injury. He is followed by LeBron James, who is not far behind with 2,288,676.
Other players near the top of the list include Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Damian Lillard and Joel Embiid, showcasing the variety in the voting this season.
4. LeBron’s courtside clash
Having fans back in some of the stadiums is great for both the fans and the players, as having a crowd for a game always adds pressure and excitement.
Another part of having fans is the interaction with the players, which can be a good or bad experience for both parties. During a game in Atlanta, LeBron James was encountered by Hawks fan Juliana Carlos.
Her husband had been saying insults to James all night, with his wife Juliana taking it further by insulting LeBron and removing her mask.
The referees stopped the game after LeBron was heckled by a spectator in Atlanta. pic.twitter.com/apoDqvt4ll
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 2, 2021
Words were exchanged between the pair, with Juliana’s words being less than friendly and showcasing just how badly athletes can be treated by spectators.
LeBron handled the situation well, by later commenting on Twitter; “Courtside Karen was MAD MAD!” with the situation ending with Carlos and her husband being ejected from the game.
5. Bradley Beal’s continued dominance
Despite the Wizards being one of the worst teams in the league this season, Bradley Beal has been on fire this season. Many fans wish to see Beal get out of the struggling Wizards team, as the shooting guard continues to be dominant, loyal and a fan favourite.
After being snubbed from the All-Star game last season, Beal is the top voted player among guards in the Eastern Conference, all but guaranteeing himself a spot on the roster. He has also being a certified bucket when on the floor. He is averaging 33.2PPG, an NBA best this season and currently a career high points average for the guard.
If he keeps playing like this, Beal could help the Wizards lift their game. However, the more likely option is that the two parties decide that it is best for Beal to leave the Wizards and explore options elsewhere. Only time will tell.