The good, the bad and the funny from the NBA All-Star weekend
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.
😎 Janelle Monae's A-list style
- The shades. The moves. The team spirit. 10/10 — no notes.
🚍 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.
🤦♀️ 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.
🥱 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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