All-Star 2014: What To Watch For
Posted: February 13, 2014
Friday, the NBA world will descend upon New Orleans for All-Star Weekend, with players, coaches, front office staff, media members, and fans flocking to the Pelican State for three days of unbridled celebration of both the sport and its star players.
Representing the Sixers will be rookie Michael Carter-Williams, who headlines a group of 18 rookie and sophomore players selected to compete in this year’s BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge. Thanasis Antetokounmpo of the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, will also be in attendance to compete in the D-League’s Boost Mobile Dream Factory Slam Dunk Contest.
Here are some things to watch for during All-Star Weekend:
MCW in the Skills Challenge
Last year, Jrue Holiday represented the Sixers in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, finishing second to Portland’s Damian Lillard. A Sixer will once again take part in the event this time around, as Michael Carter-Williams was selected as one of eight players to take part Saturday night at 8:30pm (EST) on TNT.
Carter-Williams will team up with fellow rookie Victor Oladipo as part of a new format for the event that will feature four teams of two players each completing the course relay-style. More on the changes to All-Star Saturday Night below:
A new format for All-Star Saturday Night
This year, All-Star Saturday Night is getting a makeover. The full list of changes can be found HERE, but the overarching theme of the reforms is an emphasis upon interconference competition. The Eastern Conference and Western Conference will square off in four events Saturday night; for the second straight year, there will be a charitable twist.
A total of $500,000 will be donated by the end of the night, up from the $350,000 that was given last year. For each competition, $100,000 will go to the winning conference's charities, with $25,000 going to the charities of the runner-up. The East, captained by Indiana’s Paul George, is competing for the American Heart Association and Unicef, and Stephen Curry’s Team West is competing for Teach for America and the Wounded Warrior Project.
MCW, Burke, Oladipo, and Davis lead Team Webber in the Rising Stars Challenge
For the third straight year, rookies and sophomores will be split up amongst two teams for the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, with Chris Webber coaching one squad and Grant Hill the other.
Featuring three of the top young playmakers in the league in Michael Carter-Williams, Trey Burke, and Victor Oladipo and one of the NBA’s best at-the-rim finishers in Anthony Davis, Team Webber figures to be a joy to watch. Headlining Team Hill are sophomores Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond, Bradley Beal, and Harrison Barnes. The game tips off Friday night at 9pm (EST) on TNT.
For the first season ever, the Sixers have a direct minor affiliate in the NBA Development League – the Delaware 87ers. Representing the Sevens in New Orleans will be rookie Thanasis Antetokounmpo, brother of Milwaukee Bucks rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is participating with Michael Carter-Williams in the Skills and Rising Stars challenges. The elder of the two Nigerian-Greek brothers, Thanasis will participate in the NBADL Boost Mobile Dream Factory Slam Dunk Contest Saturday at 3pm (EST) on NBA TV.
Kevin Hart goes for his third straight Celebrity Game MVP
The first event at All-Star Weekend will be the Sprint Celebrity Game, in which Philadelphia native Kevin Hart will look to notch his third consecutive MVP award. The 5’2” comedian/actor visited the Sixers during a practice earlier last month.
Elena Delle Donne will also compete in the Celbrity Game
Another participant of note in Friday’s Celebrity Game will be University of Delaware alum Elena Delle Donne. Delle Donne won WNBA Rookie of the Year honors in 2013 as a member of the Chicago Sky and recently teamed up with the Delaware 87ers to help combat Lyme disease, which she contracted in 2008.
Will Ben McLemore attempt the 720?
Rumblings out of Sacramento are that rookie Ben McLemore may attempt a 720 during Saturday night’s Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. If he’s able to accomplish to dunk, he would become the first NBA player to do so in competition. Many may remember former And-1 Mixtape baller Air Up There performing the trick several years ago.
Can Lillard Sweep?
Looking to make the most of his trip to New Orleans, second-year point guard, and first-time All-Star, Damian Lillard (Portland) will be competing in five events – the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, the Foot Locker Three-point Contest, Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, and the All-Star Game itself. He’s the first player to ever do so.
Reppin’ the squad
For the first time since 2007, the NBA has assembled an all-pro squad of off-court performers – the All-Star Dance Team. Michelle of the Sixers Dream Team was selected to represent Philadelphia and will perform at multiple events throughout All-Star Weekend. If you’re tuning in, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for her!