‘Twas the night before the NBA All-Star game and all through nation, many will watch top-flight athletes compete with joy and adulation. The main event is tomorrow, but there will certainly be some intrigue regarding some of the competitions tonight.
At 3 PM EST, the NBA D-League All-Star Game will commence. The roster will be broken up into a “Futures” team and a “Prospects” team. If you want to get a look at players that could develop and help NBA teams, including the Atlanta Hawks, down the road, be sure to check it out live on Youtube. Head to the NBA’s D-League site for more information. Some of the participants this year include former Washington Wizards guard Shelvin Mack and Hawks training camp member Damion James.
As part of the late night coverage, starting at 7 PM EST, there will be four competitions as usual: the Sears Shooting Stars, the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, and the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. The Hawks’ own Jeff Teague will be competing in the Skill Challenge, as the lone representative in any of the festivities this year.
The Shooting Stars competition will feature two teams from both the Eastern and Western Conference. Each team, named after a current NBA player, will consist of that NBA player, a current WNBA player and a recognizable former NBA player. The teams have to make a series of 6 shots increasing in difficultly. You may know one of the participants as a famous former Hawk.
The teams are as follows:
- Team Lopez: Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets, Muggsy Bogues, Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever
- Team Bosh: Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat, Dominique Wilkins, Swin Cash of the Chicago Sky
- Team Harden: James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Sam Cassell, Tina Thompson of the Seattle Storm
- Team Westbrook: Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Robert Horry, Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx
Next is the Skill Competition, which will pit players against the clock in a race to dribble, pass, and layup the ball as quickly as possible. The participants are Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers, Jrue Holiday of the Philadelphia 76ers, Brandon Knight of the Detroit Pistons, and Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks. All are very skilled ball-handlers and possess great agility, but I’d look for any of Parker, Lillard or Teague to nab this title.
The final two competitions are the most well-known and the stakes will be high for all who seek to write their name in history. The three point competition will feature Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Steve Novak of the New York Knicks, Ryan Anderson of the New Orleans Hornets, Matt Bonner of the San Antonio Spurs, and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. All are worthy participants but I think the nation would enjoy seeing a power forward, either Anderson or Bonner, take home the title for the second straight year after seeing Kevin Love’s performance last year.
Finally comes the Dunk Competition, which has moved to a field of 6 players for the first time ever. Returning champion Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz will be joined by Gerald Green of the Indiana Pacers, Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors, James White of the New York Knicks, Eric Bledsoe of the Los Angeles Clippers and Kenneth Faried of the Denver Nuggets. Green is a former dunk champion and has the most experience of the bunch. James White and Terrence Ross will be popular sleeper picks but this competition has always proven to be exciting and unpredictable.