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Team LeBron, with two Cavs, and two local charities are winners in Cleveland's NBA All-Star Game

The NBA's best 75 players were honored at halftime of the NBA All-Star Game. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]
The NBA's best 75 players were honored at halftime of the NBA All-Star Game. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

With plenty of out-of-towners and high-profile visitors — from athletes to actors to music stars — NBA All-Star Weekend in Cleveland sure seemed like the place to be. And the most exciting place to be in Cleveland was Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse for the All-Star Game Sunday night.

Team LeBron, featuring Cleveland Cavaliers All-Stars Darius Garland and Jarett Allen, won the game with a fade-way game winner by James, of course. He's hit a lot of amazing shots on that floor in his two stints with the Cavs. including the NBA Championship in 2016. The biggest winners Sunday night, though, were the Kent State University I-Promise Scholars program, which collected $450,000 after Team LeBron's win, and the Greater Cleveland Foodbank, which collected $300,000 due to the efforts of Team Durant (captained by injured Brooklyn Nets player Kevin Durant).

Golden State Warrior guard Stephen Curry was the MVP of the 75 All-Star Game in Cleveland. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

While Downtown was party central for All-Star Weekend – the bars, restaurants and clubs were lively and most of the NBA events were held at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, the Wolstein Center and Public Auditorium – other parts of town also got in on the action.

"The Block" in Cleveland's Gordon Square district was free to fans. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

A weekend-long fan event called "The Block" took over the Gordon Square district on Cleveland's West Side. The pop-up party on the corner of West 54 th Street and Detroit Avenue featured games, giveaways and live shows.

Some of the entertainment at "The Block" throughout the weekend included interviews with retired NBA players Gary Payton and Richard Jefferson and celebrity hosts such as internet comedian Druski.

Comedian Druski interviewed fans at "The Block" in Gordon Square. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

Roberto Torres of Chicago was surprised to see Druski and other celebrities in town.

“Never really been to one of these events. Pretty cool to come here,” Torres said.

Roberto Torres (middle) and his friends from Chicago came to Cleveland on Friday and stayed for All-Star Weekend. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

Ashely Cardona, an Ohio State University graduate from Miami, Florida said she loved spending time at events like "The Block."

“This is where I prefer to hang out – at these events where it’s not at the bars or at the clubs,” Cardona said. “This is my kind of vibe.”

Ashley Cardona (right) and her Ohio State classmate Camara Porter. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

Trey Keene, a Cleveland native now living in Los Angeles, was proud of what he came home to experience during All-Star Weekend.

“I love the energy and the flow of how everything is going inside of Cleveland,” Keene said. “Every time I come back I love to see how beautiful and how much the city is building around.”

Former Cleveland Brown and current broadcaster Andrew Hawkins was impressed, too.

“Just looking at (the city) light up, man,” Hawkins said. “Watching everybody enjoy Cleveland – it’s the best feeling in the world.”

"The Block" featured several basketball video games. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

The pop-ups and the celebrity game Friday and the slam dunk contest Saturday — everything Cleveland and the NBA offered — all built up to the All-Star Game.

James did his classic chalk-toss ritual for the crowd in his former home arena to begin the contest.

Two Cleveland Cavaliers drew huge love from the home crowd during the game, guard Darius Garland and center Jarrett Allen.

Cavaliers Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen after the All-Star Game. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

The Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse crowd especially erupted after Allen scored his first points of the game off a slam dunk. Garland awed them with a long-distance three-pointer.

“I knew it was finally my time to get the crowd going,” Allen said. “The crowd erupted. It was a special moment.”

At halftime, for the league’s 75 th anniversary, the NBA honored its 75 greatest players of all time – a list that was compiled by a committee last year.

Akron native LeBron James is on the NBA's 75 best players list. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

The NBA had a similar ceremony honoring its 50 best players during its 50 th anniversary in 1997, which also took place in Cleveland at the NBA All-Star Weekend.

Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Middletown, Ohio native Jerry Lucas were amongst those honored at halftime Sunday night.

New additions to the list included Steph Curry, who was named MVP of this year's All-Star Game as he rained threes from Willoughby to Lorain, James and Kobe Bryant, who died in 2020. The MVP trophy is now named in honor of Bryant.

LeBron James after the All-Star game. [Gabriel Kramer / Ideastream Public Media]

Cleveland hosted the NBA gold anniversary a quarter century ago and the diamond anniversary this year. Perhaps the city is in line to host the centennial anniversary in 25 years — a new Cleveland tradition?

With such great reaction from fans and players this year, and perfect weather on All-Star Sunday, Cleveland has an argument to host All-Star weekend again even sooner. 

Gabriel Kramer is a Filipino American journalist from Medina, Ohio. He studied journalism at Kent State University and is a proud member of the Asian American Journalists Association.