CLEVELAND, Ohio – NBA All-Star Weekend kicked off festivities with a star-studded game on Friday night, when local and global celebrities hit the court at the Wolstein Center.
Two teams of celebrities were led by two legendary NBA players serving as coaches: Bill Walton (Team Walton) and Dominique Wilkins (Team Nique). Walton and Wilkins were responsible for picking a few teams for challenges, and they otherwise generally stayed on the sidelines and out of the spotlight.
The game, presented by Ruffles (the potato chip brand), featured a wavy blue four-point line reminiscent of the chip’s shape (because, branding). Bright bursts of color popped out on Team Walton’s jerseys, while Team Nique’s featured more subdued purple and gray patterns.
Celebrities from all kinds of backgrounds joined: basketball players, football players, comedians, musicians, models, a Bollywood star and more.
Sporty celebrities included Peloton instructor Alex Toussaint, Harlem Globetrotters player Crissa Jackson and Olympic high jumper Gianmarco Tamberi.
Cleveland celebrities made up a good chunk of the teams, too: Browns player Myles Garrett, Cleveland Cavaliers legend Boobie Gibson, Mayor Justin Bibb and musician and actor Machine Gun Kelly (aka Colson Baker) all put forth their best efforts.
Team introductions saw uproarious applause for Baker, Bibb and Garrett – along with thunderous cheers for out-of-town celebrities like rapper Jack Harlow, comedian Tiffany Haddish and musician Kane Brown.
When Bibb entered the court, an audience member loudly blurted out: “Don’t disappoint us.”
Just ahead of the game, Bibb shared in a brief interview that “he’s always ready to ball.” But often during the game, he stayed on the sidelines, one of the least aggressive players on Team Nique.
Hip-hop star Jack Harlow found his stride mid-game, hustling on the court and scoring several points for Team Nique. Gianmarco Tamberi showed his Olympic high jump skills in several soaring moves, scoring 15 points for the team in a few impressive dunks.
Garrett’s background in basketball came in handy when he used his towering physique to land dunks and intercept the ball above some of the shorter players. Garrett scored a whopping 13 points for Team Nique.
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Machine Gun Kelly managed to squeeze in a few points for Team Walton. After the game, actress Megan Fox – his fiancée of him – took a video of the star as he joined his team on the court to celebrate the win, leaping up and down.
Peloton cycling instructor Toussaint later picked up the nickname “Alex Three-saint” after landing a three-pointer in the third quarter for Team Walton. The player won the Celebrity Game MVP trophy at the end of the match, after scoring 18 points for Team Walton. (Toussaint scored just a few points less than country singer Jimmie Allen, who earned 21 points for the same team.)
When all was said and done, Team Walton came out on top, with a final score of 65-51.
Beyond the celebrities in the game, some celebrities lined the court, too – including former NBA players Dirk Nowitski and Richard Jefferson, former WNBA player Lisa Leslie and current Cavs players Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. Plus, who could miss the spiky blond hairdo of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” host Guy Fieri?
Timeouts and halftimes included typical Cavs performances like bucket drummers, the cheesy “Dancing Dads” and trampoline dunkers. Cleveland trivia questions, a song challenge and a TikTok dance challenge also kept the energy high throughout the night.
There was certainly some competition between Team Nique and Team Walton, but the game was mostly in the name of fun. Plenty of cheer was shared between teams – high fives, laughter and smiles were often exchanged between the players.
All said, the celebrity game was a fitting, fiery start to NBA All-Star Weekend festivities in Northeast Ohio.
Check out photos from the event in the gallery at the top of the article.