Everyone is talking about the Elam ending and Dwayne Wade messing up the dunk contest. Both exciting moments, but nowhere near the best event at the All-Star weekend in Chicago. That title goes to All-Star Unified Special Olympics game and coach Nikola Jokić. The Unified Game pairs an equal number of Special Olympics athletes (individuals with intellectual disabilities) and NBA and WNBA players and legends.
Joining the East team this year was Toni Kukoč, a three-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls and Special Advisor to Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the Chicago Bulls. Toni brought experience to his young roster and the physical fitness of a 51-year-old man with gray hair. That didn’t stop his coach Nikola Jokić from asking him to hustle and criticize him while pulling him to the bench.
“Tooni, come one, a little faster! Toni we are -7…you are -7.”Nikola Jokić to Toni Kukoč
Jokić is obviously preparing for a coaching career, as he already mastered some of the skills we see from NBA coaches. He complained to the refs constantly, pointed out traveling, and free throw disparity. Nikola even tried to talk the scorer’s table into giving his team a few extra points.
The 2020 game was a hard-fought competition with amazing plays on both sides. Ultimately, the Home team won over the Away team with a 44-43 victory after Chris Carter, Special Olympics Virginia, stole an inbound pass and made his jump shot with 11 seconds left on the clock.