National Sport

Understanding the hype: NBA All-Star Weekend

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THANDO CELE

The National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Weekend is an annual American weekend-long entertainment festival that is usually held in the second week of February. It consists of a vast number of exhibition games, basketball events, and performances from artists and comedians alike during the course of the weekend, all building up to the finale of the festival: the NBA All-Star Game, which takes place on the Sunday night. This year’s version of the All-Star Game took place in Toronto at the Ricoh Coliseum (home of the Toronto Raptors) and was the first time that the All-Star Game was held outside the US.

This year’s NBA All-Star Weekend kicked off on Friday 12 February, with the highlight of the evening being the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game that saw a matchup of Team Canada vs Team USA. It was hosted by Canadian rapper Drake and four-time Celebrity Game Most Valuable Player (MVP) and stand-up comedian Kevin Hart. It featured 21 players, including actors Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Anthony Anderson, O'Shea Jackson, Jr., Joel David Moore and Tom Cavanagh, and TV hosts Nick Cannon and Terrence Jenkins. The game also included four NBA legends in Chauncey Billups, Muggsy Bogues, Tracy McGrady and Rick Fox, as well as Elena Delle Donne and Tammy Sutton-Brown of the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association).

Saturday night’s finale came in the form of the Slam Dunk Contest. This competition showcases the creativity and athletic ability of some of the league's youngest, best dunkers. The competition is always judged rather subjectively, according to the unique preferences of the individual judges. After each dunk (or attempted dunk), competitors are awarded a mark out of 10 from five judges, giving a possible high score of 50. The 2016 final was contested between Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic and defending champion Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Close comparisons were drawn between NBA legends Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins. LaVine defended his title against Gordon, after multiple rounds of sudden death.

Read more: Understanding the hype: NBA All-Star Weekend

Varsity Cup past players: Jesse Kriel and Handre Pollard

ZUKO QUSHEKA

Varsity Cup is a league to be reckoned with, breathing into the dreams of many up-and-coming rugby players who hope represent their country in green and gold. The popular phrase “back your boytjies” could very well be the start of backing your future Springbok stars. UP has seen particular success with two former TuksRugby players, Jesse Kriel and Handre Pollard, who have captured South African hearts with their recent World Cup performance.

The two youngsters, who ply their trade for the Blue Bulls, have enjoyed a meteoric rise to the Springboks. Both played in the same u/18 Craven Week tournament in 2012, putting in performances that drew the necessary attention to set their professional rugby careers in motion. Pollard’s step up to TuksRugby and then quickly on to the Blue Bulls has been a fairy tale rise for the youngster, whose talent has seen him keep up with older teammates also vying for the number 10 rugby jersey. His form in of Super Rugby last year made sure he was guaranteed a spot on the trip to the World Cup. With his boot and some exquisite vision, Pollard has been terrorising opposition defences since his high school days and is set to continue in the coming years as he matures in the Blue Bulls and Springboks backline.

Read more: Varsity Cup past players: Jesse Kriel and Handre Pollard

2015 Rugby World Cup preview

THORISO PHASHA

The world rugby community is buzzing with anticipation as the 2015 Rugby World Cup inches ever closer. The international showcase that was established in 1987 enters its eighth instalment this year. Twenty international sides will assemble in England to compete for world rugby’s most coveted trophy.

Hosts England will look to be inspired by talisman winger Jonny May and the leadership of Chris Robshaw as they hope to recapture the form that saw them as the epitome of world rugby in 2003. However, England will face a tricky situation being pitted in a group of formidable nations, including the likes of Wales and Australia.

Read more: 2015 Rugby World Cup preview

Thousands enter Spar Women’s Race in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

CARLI-ANN FURNO AND ERIN SLINGERLAND

The annual Spar Women’s Race, also known as South Africa’s Most Beautiful Race, is an event that encourages women from all over the country to come together and participate in either a 5 km or 10 km run. On Sunday 11 October a record 13 358 people gathered at the starting line near the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.

Lebogang Phalula proved to have entered the event with determination when she crossed the 10 km finish line first in a time of just over 35 minutes, followed by Rutendo Nyahora and Diana-Lebo Phalula. All runners received a free pink T-shirt upon arrival, and although it was a women’s event, men were also seen blending into the crowd with pink attire and dressed in drag.

Read more: Thousands enter Spar Women’s Race in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

What it takes to be a warrior

What it takes to be a warrior

CARLI-ANN FURNO

The sixth Jeep Warrior Race of the year took place at Hobby Park in Krugersdorp over the weekend of 22 August. The elite course was held over 15 km. UP student Greg Avierinos not only finished in an overall position of third in the mens category, but was selected to represent South Africa in the Warrior Championships to be held in the USA later this year. UP medical student Michelle Meyer will also be competing in the World Championships and managed to place fifth in the womens category on Sunday, 23 August. Perdeby spoke to both competitors after the race.

Read more: What it takes to be a warrior

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