The NBA All-Star Game is back!

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Editor's note: Any views or opinions expressed in this story is solely the author's.

(CNN Philippines) — For the first time in what seems like forever, we actually were treated to an intense and competitive All-Star Game. It's not to say that the game didn't have its fair share of highlights - we still were able to witness plenty of that - from Lebron's bounce pass alley-oop to Anthony Davis, or Kemba Walker's lob to Lebron, to Oladipo's fast break dunk, highlight blocks, and streaky 3-point shooting. This 2018 edition though, just had a different feel from the get go.

It didn't really matter that this was the lowest scoring All-Star Game by a lot since 2013, because the players were hell bent on making it a real game. Perhaps if the shooters of Team Steph made their 3-pointers it would've been a different story (Curry, Harden and Lowry combined to shoot 5/32 from 3) but Kevin Durant put it best when he said that, "We wanted to kind of change the narrative of the All-Star Game being a joke. Today we wanted to make it a real basketball game."

Here are some of the reasons why I felt the game was a little bit different and great this year:

1) The new format of the game. I loved the idea of having two team captains, and have them drafting their own teams. Yes, the NBA did not televise it which was a big bummer but Adam Silver has already mentioned that they will do this next year. They were afraid that players would feel offended about the drafting order - but you know what, turns out it didn't really matter to them. This new format allowed us to have Lebron James and Kevin Durant together in one team - oh and yes, with their former tag-team partners also together with them, both Kyrie Irving and Westbrook together - and it certainly looked like they  picked up from where they left off.

2) Late in the first half, you saw team Lebron applying a bit of a full-court press on James Harden and forcing a turnover twice! When on earth do you see that in an All-Star Game?

3) In the second half, I loved how on one drive Kevin Durant took it to the chest of Joel Embiid and just dislodged him before taking a shot. You don't see those type of plays in too much in an All-Star game. Oh and Embiid was able to get back and punish Lebron on the post by bullying his way to a lay-up (yes, Lebron was really trying to defend him). There just weren't too many of the usual easy dunks or lay-ups. We saw a lot of tough and contested shots today

4) Both teams were actually running plays! We saw a little bit of flare screens, staggered screens, to go with the great passing and cutting of both teams.

5) Late in the game when the ball apparently bounced off the foot of Joel Embiid - players were screaming for an instant replay - and vehemently disagreeing with the result of the replay as the ball was awarded back to Team Steph. For the record, I was with Reggie Miller (who was in disbelief at the verdict) in thinking that the ball should've gone to Team Lebron anyways but hey, referees know best right?

6) Defense defense defense - just the intensity especially down the stretch, when players wouldn't give an inch, when there would be double teams and scrambling, which also showcased the offensive talent and genius of the players which they really had to use to score.

7) Lastly, Lebron James just being Lebron James. Big news for him this week, as he was a target of a news host and told to just "shut up and dribble". He definitely dribbled - making great plays time and time again, clutch baskets, almost getting a triple double but his performance was enough to give him the MVP award. But more importantly, he also did not back down from those comments and instead used his stature and influence to continue to preach for awareness about the social issues. That's the mark of a true MVP.

This All-Star game was one for the books, and we hope it would stay this fun and competitive for years to come.

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