Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sprite Slam Dunk: Preview

   Arguably the most anticipated contest of all of All-Star weekend, this game is featuring the biggest names in decades to conclude the Saturday events. All-Stars Damian Lillard, John Wall, and Paul George have made this such an anticipated event this year. Returning champion Terrence Ross has had a great season of late too and it will be very difficult for any of the other contestants to beat his acrobatic high flying dunks that he hasn't been shy to show off in games. Just how long has it been since there were so many stars in the contest? Via
This marks the first time in 26 years that three All-Stars are competing in the Sprite Slam Dunk. In the 1988 competition in Chicago, All-Stars Clyde Drexler, Michael Jordan, and Dominique Wilkins squared off, with Jordan claiming the crown in front of the hometown fans.
  Here are the teams:
Eastern Conference: Paul George (Indiana Pacers), Terrence Ross (Toronto Raptors), John Wall (Washington Wizards)
Western Conference: Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Ben McLemore (Sacramento Kings)
   The format for this game has changed this year into a team competition too, and here's the details of the controversial change from
This year's event will feature the participants competing as a team -- three players representing the Eastern Conference and three players representing the Western Conference -- in an above-the-rim two-round format. In a significant first in the event's history, the competition will tip off with a Freestyle Round where the dunkers for each conference will have 90 seconds to showcase as many dunks as they want. At the conclusion of the Freestyle Round, the panel of judges will then choose a winner by voting "East" or "West." The winning conference will earn the advantage of deciding whether its dunkers will dunk first or second in the head-to-head battles that take place in the Battle Round.
The Battle Round will feature head-to-head matchups pitting East dunkers vs. West dunkers, with the judges choosing a winner for each battle. Upon losing a head-to-head battle, that dunker is then eliminated from the competition. The first team to win three battles will win the competition and be crowned 2014 Sprite Slam Dunk champions. Complete rules for the 2014 Sprite Slam Dunk and State Farm All-Star Saturday Night can be found on
After the competition, fans will also have the opportunity to vote for the player of their choice as "Dunker of the Night" through SMS, Twitter, and the NBA GameTime app.

  Personally I don't like the change and think they should have stayed with the classic format. It just feels like they're trying to make this a kids game, where there aren't as many "losers". The "winner" is the team so the individual best dunker won't actually be recognized as the sole champ, an idea I don't like and others have questioned as well.
   For the West team to win this they're going to have to be extremely creative as they haven't showcased the athletic throw downs during games that the East constantly has. Ross and George seem like the 2 best dunkers in the group from what they've shown before, but the West's dunkers aren't too shabby either. Lillard has competed in 2 previous events so his athleticism(while already questioned) will be put to the test while facing all these elite dunkers tonight. Hopefully cheesy props will be avoided and this year can help bring back the dunk contest and set up the contest for strong contestants for years to come. We'll just have to see tonight, tune into TNT or TNT Overtime to see how this all goes down.

Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout: Preview

   The much anticipated Three-Point Shootout, with some of the best shooters in the competition from top to bottom in years. Not really much to say about this other than it should be a fun short event to watch. The event's simple, breakdown by
Five shooting stations will be set up around the three-point line, with four Official Spalding NBA game balls worth one point each and one Spalding NBA All-Star 2014 commemorative "money ball" worth two points at each location. New to this year's contest, each player will also be able to switch one of the five shooting locations to a full rack of five "money balls," each of which will be worth two points.
The contestants in this years event:
Eastern Conference: Arron Afflalo (Orlando), Bradley Beal (Washington), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland), Joe Johnson (Brooklyn)
Western Conference: Marco Belinelli (San Antonio), Stephen Curry (Golden State), Damian Lillard (Portland), Kevin Love (Minnesota)
The winner from each Conference will face off in the championship round. Here's the incentives behind winning:
For the second consecutive year, the Eastern and Western conferences will compete during State Farm All-Star Saturday Night in an evening of challenges that will raise money for charity. NBA Cares and State Farm will make a joint donation of $500,000 as part of the event, with $100,000 awarded to each event's winning conference's charities and $25,000 going to the charities of the runner-up for each event. The Eastern Conference will be playing for the American Heart Association and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF while the Western Conference will compete for Teach for America and Wounded Warrior Project®. All-Stars Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and George, winner of the 2012-13 Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award, will serve as captains of the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively. The charities were selected by George and Curry, the NBA, and State Farm.
Tune in to TNT or TNT Overtime to see who the champion will be, or expect it to be on Sportscenter and later tonight.

Taco Bell skills Challenge: Preview

   Highlighted by returning champion Damian Lillard, the Taco Bell skills challenge is a fun event that tests players shooting, passing, and quickness. This is a "Team event" with 2 players on 4 different teams. The teams will face off against the other in their Conference first and then the winners of each conference will face off to decide the champions. DeMar DeRozan is the next biggest name player as he was named to his first NBA All-Star game, and Victor Oladipo is the leader in the ROY race so he's a big name trying to raise his profile even more too.
   Breakdown of the teams via
Representing the Eastern Conference are DeRozan and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks on one team, and Michael Carter-Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers and Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic on the other.
Joining Lillard on one Western Conference team is Trey Burke of the Utah Jazz, while Reggie Jackson of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Goran Dragic of the Phoenix Suns comprise the other.
   Of course given this event is the Taco Bell skills challenge then there are donations involved related to Taco Bell too:
As part of this year's 2014 Taco Bell® Skills Challenge, four lucky teens will paired with the NBA participants. Through the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, a total of $120,000 will be donated in support of educational scholarships and to Boys & Girls Clubs of America, with the teen paired with the winning team receiving a $30,000 educational scholarship.
For the second consecutive year, the Eastern and Western conferences will compete during State Farm All-Star Saturday Night in an evening of challenges that will raise money for charity. NBA Cares and State Farm will make a joint donation of $500,000 as part of the event, with $100,000 awarded to each event's winning conference's charities and $25,000 going to the charities of the runner-up for each event. The Eastern Conference will be playing for the American Heart Association and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF while the Western Conference will compete for Teach for America and Wounded Warrior Project®. All-Stars Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors and George, winner of the 2012-13 Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award, will serve as captains of the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively. The charities were selected by George and Curry, the NBA, and State Farm.
   Well the first round is over as I write this(busy day), but I expect Damian Lillard and Trey Burke to take the championship round as both are competitive and Lillard wants to not just compete but do well and try to win all 5 events he is in and raise the Trailblazer's and his own national profile. A short event but fun to watch with real basic skills being put to the test. Watch the game on TNT or TNT Overtime on, or check the highlights if you don't have time today.

Sears Shooting Stars: Preview

   One of the most overlooked events during All-Star weekend, the Sears Shooting Stars event is honestly one of the worst events and deserving of the low status it has. It's not an event that many players would care to be in, since it really doesn't have anything to do with individual recognition being earned. The game is comprised of 2 Eastern Conference teams and 2 Western Conference teams, with each team consisting of one current NBA player, one legend, and one WNBA player.
   Here's a pretty simple explanation of the event from
A two-round competition, the Sears Shooting Stars contest features four numbered shooting locations of increasing difficulty, with each team attempting to make all shots in numeric order in the fastest time. The first round features two teams from the same conference competing against each other to advance to the championship round where the best team from each conference will square off. The team that completes all four shots in the least amount of time in the championship round will be declared the winner and will win $100,000 for their conference's charities.
    Obviously the biggest part of this event is the $100,000 being donated to a conference's charity, as there really isn't any bragging rights that come from this game.
   So who are the contestants? Once again via
Two teams representing the Western Conference and two teams representing the Eastern Conference will compete in the 2014 Sears Shooting Stars. Joining Durant, the three-time NBA scoring champ (2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12) on one Western Conference team are Hall of Famer Karl Malone and the No. 3 overall selection in the 2013 WNBA Draft, Skylar Diggins of the Tulsa Shock. Curry is joined on the second West team by his father, NBA Legend Dell Curry, and six-time WNBA All-Star Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Stars.
The East stand-ins for one team are Tim Hardaway Jr. from the New York Knicks, his father and NBA Legend, Tim Hardaway Sr., and 2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year Elena Della Donne. Two-time NBA champion Bosh is joined by Hall of Fame member Dominique Wilkins and three-time WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist Swin Cash of the Chicago Sky.
   The most fun part of the night will likely be seeing how Steph Curry and Tim Hardaway Jr. do against their "Legend" fathers Dell Curry and Tim Hardaway Sr. The WNBA players are probably recognized by 1 percent of those who watch the event, but at least the Legends are good in this game. This game isn't going to be watched by many people as it really is very overlooked and is only of real interest to the 4 teams fans who have players in the game. Honestly I'm not going to watch this event, and this post is late and since the NBA events are so loosely scheduled today sometime after 5pm then who really knows how long it'll go to but the majority of you probably didn't care to watch it anyways. Save your time and check the highlights tonight, that's what I'll be doing. If you insist on watching it then check it out on TNT or TNT Overtime on


Friday, February 14, 2014

BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge: Preview

   An exhibition game that is always sure to have plenty of scoring, dunking, and little defense is fun to watch because it's an opportunity for the most talented Rookies and Sophomores to put on a show on national television and take advantage of the chance to spread their name. With the All-Star game generally featuring the best players who have propelled their teams to some of the best in the league, the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge features many players who were top picks(many of so still on below .500 teams-how their team got to draft them in the first place) or pleasant surprises who are not yet at an All-Star caliber level but who have shown promise or at least flashes of potential towards such accolades.
   Here's a quick review of the changes that have happened in recent years to this particular exhibition game, from the impeccably trusty internet source Wikipedia:
   "The Rookie Challenge, established in 1994, was originally competed by two randomly selected teams composed entirely of first-year players. This format was continued until 1996, when it was changed to pit rookie teams of both the Eastern and the Western Conference against each other. In 1999, the game was cancelled as a result of the NBA lockout. Since the 1998 rookie class did not compete that year, the game was revamped and featured a team of standout first-year players ('Rookies') against a team of standout second-year players ('Sophomores'). For 2012 and 2013, the format was changed to having two teams drafted by former NBA superstars Charles Barkley (Team Chuck) and Shaquille O'Neal (Team Shaq). In 2014, the two teams were drafted by Chris Webber (Team Webber) and Grant Hill (Team Hill). Unlike regular NBA games, the game was divided into two twenty-minute halves, similar to college basketball. The participating players were chosen by voting among the league's assistant coaches. In the game, players wear their respective regular team uniforms, except for 2009, in which players wore fan-designed jerseys. The head coaches of the two teams are the lead assistant coaches of the NBA All-Star Game coach. Starting in 2009, two active NBA players were added to the game coaching staffs. The format of the game and name was changed to the Rising Stars Challenge in 2012."
   Since I'm in a rush(heading to the gym to play some basketball myself), here's my expectations/predictions:
   Once again this game will be a very high scoring affair with little to no defense until the 4th quarter. Look for dunkers and 3 point shooters to rack up the most points(Davis, Oladipo, Lillard, Beal, Barnes, Drummond, Valanciunas). Lillard has been marketed a lot for this game, but since he has 3 events tomorrow then it's hard to know whether he'll be playing big minutes for the win or conserving energy for the real show tomorrow. MVP would most likely go to Davis or Lillard but since both are also playing in the All-Star game then they may be spending more time on the bench. Drummond isn't however, so if he can put his man-child body to work against the soft defense then he can take it should Davis and Lillard be limited. It's anybody's guess though since there are so many good young scorers in this game, should be a fun one. My bet is on the more talented Team Hill, but Team Webber has more physical/gritty players which may be able to compensate for a lack of 3 point shooting threats.
Tip off it 6 p.m. ET on TNT.
Full teams Via
PlayerNBA TeamClassDraft PickYear
Anthony DavisNew OrleansSoph.No. 12012
Michael Carter-WilliamsPhiladelphiaRookieNo. 112013
Tim Hardaway Jr.New YorkRookieNo. 242013
Trey BurkeUtahRookieNo. 92013
Jared SullingerBostonSoph.No. 212012
Mason PlumleeBrooklynRookieNo. 222013
Victor OladipoOrlandoRookieNo. 22013
Steven AdamsOKCRookieNo. 122013
Kelly OlynykBostonRookieNo. 132013
PlayerNBA TeamClassDraft PickYear
Damian LillardPortlandSoph.No. 62012
Bradley BealWashingtonSoph.No. 32012
Andre DrummondDetroitSoph.No. 92012
Harrison BarnesGolden StateSoph.No. 72012
Terrence JonesHoustonSoph.No. 182012
Giannis AntetokounmpoMilwaukeeRookieNo. 152013
Jonas ValanciunasTorontoSoph.No. 52011
Dion WaitersClevelandSoph.No. 42012
Miles Plumlee**PhoenixSoph.No. 262012

Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game: Preview

   If you like high flying dunks that get you yelling and jumping out of your seat so much you scare your dog, 3's raining everywhere like it's Portland, silky crossovers that make your jaw drop, and skills fine tuned with tens of thousands of hours of practice... then you better wait until Sunday, because this game isn't for you. The Celebrity All-Star game is full of people who either love basketball and/or the attention, these are by no means professional basketball players and most wouldn't be the best at your local gym. However, there are some talented players and the game is always fun to see how athletic some of these actors or comedians really are or at least to see what type of wild antics and hilarity that the 2-time MVP Kevin Hart will bring to the game.
   Since it is Valentines day, and this game isn't going to make you feel butterflies like a romantic date with a loved one might, then I recommend passing on it this time and saving that space on your DVR... but for the rest of us who've got no dates, no plans, and/or nothing better to do Friday evening, then sit back and tune into the game for a fun contest that'll beat picking your nose or scrolling through facebook reading all your friends depressing posts about being single or a victim of the world or witnessing on instagram friends ability to somehow take more selfies in a week than Narcissus himself could bare to take in a lifetime.
   Now for the list and breakdown of the players via
Two-time MVP Kevin Hart
Victoria's Secret model, actress and philanthropist Erin Heatherton
"America's Got Talent" host Nick Cannon
ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" hosts Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg
Jesse Williams ("Grey's Anatomy")
Columbus Short ("Scandal")
Michael B. Jordan ("That Awkward Moment")
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
Three-time NBA Champion and ESPN NBA analyst Bruce Bowen
"E! News" anchor Terrence Jenkins
NBA TV's "NBA Inside Stuff presented by Samsung Galaxy" co-host Kristen Ledlow
ESPN anchor Stan Verrett
WNBA star Skylar Diggins of the Tulsa Shock
Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky
   The favorite has got to be 2 time MVP Kevin Hart. With his success branching into film in the last year, his rising celebrity status will most likely seal the MVP once again since the award is given via fans votes. The actual best players in the game though? WNBA "stars" Skylar Diggins(8.5ppg) and Elena Delle Donne(15.0ppg). 5-time NBA All-Defensive First Team, 3-time NBA All-Defensive Second Team, and 3 time NBA champion Bruce Bowen. U.S. Secretary of Education, former Harvard team captain, and professional Australian basketball player from 1987-1991.
The game airs live on ESPN from Sprint Arena Friday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. ET.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Starting Fresh

   Sometimes it's just nice to get a fresh start, to give something another shot to do your best at even if the first time you weren't able to fulfill what you hoped. Surely this can be related to many different areas, but for me I am referring to the process of restarting this blog. Ever since the Trailblazers reeled off a 13 game winning streak being lead by the franchise "savior" Brandon Roy, I have become a die-hard NBA fan. I can't imagine there are too many kids who from 8th grade through high school would watch NBA summer league games to get a first look at the newest rookies and improved players instead of watching movies or playing videogames(of course those had to be fit in during the summer too though).
   Now I'm 18 and a freshman in college, and although I can't name every single player in the NBA like I could as a freshman in high school(yes every single player and top free agents, and yes that's over 450 names), I still have that love for basketball. Watching the Trailblazers exceed expectations, as LaMarcus Aldridge becomes one of the best Power Forwards in the game, has kept me addicted to this team after last seasons finish was rough. With the looming 2014 NBA Draft that has been hyped up for a couple years now, and a strong 2014 NBA Free Agency, then there are a lot of rumors that will be circulating around in the next week and a half leading to the always anticipated NBA trade deadline and my goal is to cover these major trades and rumors and break them down for those who aren't familiar with the players around the league on teams that aren't their favorite.
   I tried to start up this blog a couple years ago, but I could never find the time for this commitment with school and sports always filling my schedule. With a fresh start now, I hope to be able to start a blog that can be NBA fans first stop when they're looking for a breakdown of a trade or weekly power rankings. I'm hoping my occasional posts sharing my opinion about news or rumors that are circulating will be enjoyable for the readers and that there can be positive feedback(positive comments or sharing the post) when the reader enjoys the article or helpful advice if I miss a beat.