Slam Dunks And Startups: How All-Star Technology Took Over The NBA In The Big Easy

Whether it was that first quarter alley-oop between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis lighting up the scoreboard as this year’s MVP, or players and entertainers teaming up to score a big time donation for the Sager Strong Foundation, this year’s NBA All-Star weekend was full of tweetable moments. While this weekend celebrated the league’s best talent, it also brought cutting edge technology into the mix. From virtual reality to tech infused slam dunks, there was plenty of new technology showcased in New Orleans.

One of the most exciting things to hit the tech scene is virtual reality, and it’s bound to truly revolutionize how fans experience the game. On the heels of this year’s festivities, the NBA teamed up with Google DayDream to launch its new NBA VR app. With the app, the NBA also dropped the VR series, House of Legends, giving fans an opportunity to sit down with NBA favorites like James Worthy and Chauncey Billups to talk about their famed careers, what’s happening in the league, and the latest in news and entertainment—virtual reality style.

Soon to be featured in the app is even more 360-degree video content, NBA highlights, along with player and team stats. In the first episode using Google’s latest technology, you’ll shoot the breeze with seven-time NBA champion Robert Horry as he discusses his love for honey and lasagna.

Along with the NBA VR app, DayDream continues to expands its platform and infusion into the NBA world with NextVR. NextVR will also be airing highlights of All-Star Weekend (in case you missed Eric Gordon edging out Kyrie Irving to become this year’s three-point champ). You’ll also get a chance to check out Sunday’s East-West match-up as part of NextVR’s first season of providing subscribers with NBA games and highlight reels, hosted by Bruce Bowen.

Even though this year’s Slam Dunk Contest garnered mixed reviews, as we saw everything from DJ Khaled snapchatting DeAndre Jordan's first dunk to Aaron Gordon calling for backup in the form of a drone with Intel’s Hexicopter. After four attempts, he finally wowed the crowd but not the judges, starting off with a mere 38 points. But having a drone at the dunk contest? You have to respect the creativity!

Though technology may be taking center court this year, various all-star players are also pushing the boundaries off the court with their tech-driven moves and investments. With his new home in Oakland as a Golden State Warrior, Durant is not only making his basketball mark on the town, but he’s also diving into the Silicon Valley tech scene. Durant is embarking on his own start-up, The Durant Company—an investment firm focused on backing new and innovative services powered by technology like Postmates.

Across the United States in the Big Apple, Carmelo Anthony was eager to jump into the tech world after firsthand experience with Catapult's wearable technology, which helps athletes generate deeper insights into the development of their game. Anthony then partnered with Stuart Goldfarb to create M7 Tech Partners, a firm dedicated to investing in early stage digital media, consumer internet, and technology ventures.

With the spotlight on New Orleans, it’s clear that the NBA is on a mission to integrate technology in all aspects of the game. As the evolution of tech innovation continues to unfold, it will have a profound impact on how fans interact with the game, how players fine-tune their skills through wearable tech, and how top athletes cement their legacy as business leaders off the court.

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