MANILA, Philippines — After the long wait, venue woes and All-Star roster brouhaha, the 2017 NBA-All Star Weekend is finally upon us.
The jam-packed weekend will begin with the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge where sophomore and rookie players will get the chance to showcase their wares.
Last year's Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves will lead Team USA along with Philadelphia 76er Jahlil Okafor and Los Angeles Laker D'Angelo Russell.
Team World will be bannered by Utah Jazz Dante Exum from Australia and Denver Nugget Jamal Murray from Canada. 76er Joel Embiid was initially named to the team but was replaced by Alex Abrines of Oklahoma City Thunder after sustaining a knee injury.
The Verizon Slam Dunk Contest will crown a new champion as two-time defending champion Zach LaVine suffered an ACL injury.
Aaron Gordon is heavily favored to win this year after a runner up finish last year while LA Clipper DeAndre Jordan will provide tough competition
The JBL Three-Point Contest will still be interesting this year.
Golden State Warrior Klay Thompson will defend his title against former champion Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, CJ McCollum, Nick Young, Kyle Lowry and Wes Matthews.
The Taco Bell Skills Challenge will feature four returning players and four newcomers.
John Wall will play for the fourth time while Isaiah Thomas will make his third appearance.
Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns and Gordon Hayward of Utah will make their skills challenge debut.
Defending champion Towns will not return to defend his title this year.
And finally, the NBA All-star game, the main event of the weekend, will feature the best players in the league right now.
LeBron James will banner the Eastern Conference along with fellow Cleveland Cavalier Kyrie Irving. Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee will debut as a starter.
Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens will call the shots for the team with reserves Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.
The Golden State duo of Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant will try to steer the Western Conference team to a third straight victory along with Houston's James Harden and San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard.
Oklahoma City's triple-double machine Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins of Sacramento and Klay Thompson are among the reserves.
The Western Conference All-Stars will be coached by Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors.