Feb 21, 2023 - Sports

The good, the bad and the funny from the NBA All-Star weekend

Lauri Markkanen #23 of the Utah Jazz spreads his arms during a game.

Lauri Markkanen, No. 23 of the Utah Jazz, during the first half in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game at Vivint Arena. Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Charles Barkley took over J Dawgs. Shaquille O'Neal DJ'd at the Union Event Center. Janelle Monáe dribbled at the Huntsman Center.

It's been a wild weekend, and the 2023 NBA All-Star Game is in the books. We're reflecting on the highs and lows as Salt Lake City returns to standard programming.

The good

😎 Janelle Monae's A-list style

🚍 Fare-free transit, especially TRAX

  • The TRAX rail was crowded, but we overheard lots of praise from out-of-towners.
  • Kim's thought bubble: It was a breeze hopping from venue to venue by bus or TRAX without worrying about traffic or parking. I familiarized myself with the 223 bus route that stops at the Huntsman Center and plan to use public transit whenever I can.

⭐ Hometown stars shining

  • The Team Jazz trio dominated the Saturday night Kia Skills Challenge, and Weber State alum Damian Lillard donned his college jersey for his big victory in the Starry 3-Point Contest.
  • Singer Jewel, born in Payson, opened the big game with the national anthem, followed by a concert from rapper and Utah resident Post Malone.

📈 Lauri Markkanen's rise

  • The 25-year-old Jazz forward-center continues to be a revelation after starting for the winning All-Star team, captained by the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Our thought bubble, via Axios sports reporter Jeff Tracy: The Jazz may have come back down to earth since their unexpectedly hot start to the season; but Markkanen's breakout campaign — averaging by far a career-high 24.9 points per game and currently favored to win the NBA's Most Improved Player award — remains a bright spot.

  • Plus, the Jazz are only a half-game out of a spot in the play-in round in the crowded Western Conference, so if Markkanen keeps this up down the stretch he could lead Utah to a surprising postseason berth his first year in Salt Lake City.

The bad

🤦‍♀️ This racially insensitive “look alike” Jumbotron bit.

  • Retire it.

🍔 Shaq's room service

  • Every city has good food somewhere, and it would have been great to see a shout-out for just one of our hard-scrabble restaurants.

🅿️ $50 parking at the Gateway

  • LOL, really? With free transit?
  • Yes, but: To be fair, we saw multiple park-and-rides completely full at transit stops miles from downtown, while the threat of extortionate booting and towing left nearby lots empty.

The funny

🥱 Charles Barkley calling SLC a "boring-ass city" and the subsequent defensive objections on social media.

👾 Our scary-huge city blocks.

  • "But they said it was only a few blocks!" — the most frequently-gasped statement on SLC streets this weekend.

🚬 "Damn, no one in this city has a lighter!"

  • The second-most-frequently-gasped statement on SLC streets this weekend.

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