Zion, USA win Rising Stars in rim-rattling fashion

CHICAGO — Zion Williamson’s monster dunk in the second quarter of the Rising Stars game knocked a backboard off-kilter – so much so that it required a ladder-and-wrench halftime fix at the United Center.

Williamson took a pass from Trae Young late in the first half, cocked the ball back on the left side of the rim, and hammered it home. For the remainder of the half, the entire basket was notably tilted down to the left.

Zion Williamson dunked so hard at the Rising Stars game that it bent the hoop on Friday night at the United Center in Chicago. (Screenshot: TNT)Zion Williamson dunked so hard at the Rising Stars game that it bent the hoop on Friday night at the United Center in Chicago. (Screenshot: TNT)
Zion Williamson dunked so hard at the Rising Stars game that it bent the hoop on Friday night at the United Center in Chicago. (Screenshot: TNT)

Game officials noticed, too. During halftime, a few arena staffers came out with a ladder and some tools. They spent about four minutes working on the basket, tugging it from one side, then the other.

By the time the teams returned for the second half, it appeared to be back to normal – though nothing will ever be able to neutralize the force of Zion.

The U.S. team went on to win 151-131 – with the final minute of the game turning into an uncontested dunk contest. Zion tried three ridiculously acrobatic dunks – but missed all three.

Miles Bridges calls his shot, wins MVP

While sitting in the locker room at halftime, Miles Bridges pulled out his phone and took to Twitter.

Clearly, the Charlotte Hornets star wasn’t joking around.

Bridges came out of the break and took off. He finished the night with 20 points — 13 of which came in the third quarter — and threw down an insane off-the-backboard dunk, too.

Soon, the Americans’ 10-point halftime deficit was a thing of the past.

“Coach was getting on us [at halftime]. He was saying like, we got to play for real,” Bridges said on TNT. “He wanted us to be competitive, and that’s what we did in the second half. In the first half, we weren’t playing competitive. We had to play for real in the second half.” 

By the end of the night, Bridges’ performance was enough to earn him MVP honors.

“It’s just a blessing,” Bridges said on TNT. “I give all the glory to God. I’m just happy to be a part of this, being a part of these guys, a great young group of guys. And for me to get this trophy, it’s just crazy. I’m just happy to be here.”

As for his halftime tweet, Bridges said he didn’t mean much by it.

“I just tweeted that, just trying to be funny,” Bridges said. “It’s ironic that we came out and beat them by 20. We just wanted to have fun, man, and compete in the second half.”

But should players be allowed to tweet during normal games?

“No, you shouldn’t allow tweeting during games,” he said.

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