This year’s All-Star Saturday Night has a new theme of Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference. Like that’s going to turn a weekend where everyone wants to (a) party and (b) not get hurt into serious competition.
TNT personalities Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal made their picks as GMs for the Rising Stars Challenge. O’Neal had the first pick and chose Portland guard Damian Lillard. Barkley then chose New Orleans big man Anthony Davis.
Yeah, you read that right. Both guys passed on Cleveland point man Kyrie Irving, who’s in the real All-Star Game.
Irving ended up on Team Shaq with Lillard and fellow guards Kemba Walker of Charlotte, Dion Waiters of Cleveland and Klay Thompson of Golden State. Team Shaq’s frontcourt is comprised of Detroit’s Andre Drummond, Golden State’s Harrison Barnes, Houston’s Chandler Parsons, Charlotte’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cleveland’s Tyler Zeller.
Team Chuck is Davis and fellow frontcourt players Kenneth Faried of Denver, Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio, Tristan Thompson of Cleveland and Nikola Vucevic of Orlando. The guards are Bradley Beal of Washington, Brandon Knight of Detroit, Alexey Shved and Ricky Rubio of Minnesota and Isaiah Thomas of Sacramento.
Rubio and Thomas were late additions to the player pool by TNT’s Kenny Smith. Team Shaq has six rookies and Team Chuck has three. Did we mention that Team Shaq has one All-Star and Team Chuck has none?
Apparently that was lost on O’Neal, who tried to trade Irving for Faried at halftime of the Bulls-Nuggets game on TNT. And Barkley refused. This is why they’re on TV and not working in a front office.
The Rising Stars Challenge is Friday night. The first event on All-Star Saturday Night is the Shooting Stars, which most media members miss because they are writing a story about what Commissioner David Stern just said in his “State of the Game” address. You think that’s an accident?
The West has All-Stars James Harden of Houston and Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City, WNBA players Maya Moore and Tina Thompson, and former players Robert Horry and Sam Cassell, who were teammates on the 1995 NBA champion Rockets.
The East has All-Stars Chris Bosh of Miami and Brook Lopez of Brooklyn, WNBA players Tamika Catchings and Swin Cash, and former players Muggsy Bogues and Dominique Wilkins.
C’mon, does anyone really care about this event? The best thing that can be said is that lasts long enough to make a quick beer run.
Lillard and Knight will also participate in the Skills Challenge, where players have to make shots, throw passes into wooden baskets and dribble around obstacle figurines that I wish I had in my front yard instead of all the bird feeders my wife has put there.
The defending champion is Tony Parker of San Antonio, who almost certainly will complain with a whiny face if he doesn’t win again. Also entered are Philadelphia’s Jrue Holiday, Atlanta’s Jeff Teague and Houston’s Jeremy Lin.
The East has Holiday, Teague and Knight, while the West has Parker, Lin and Lillard. Holiday leads the NBA with 4.0 turnovers per game, so he won’t win. But maybe he’ll throw a pass that will hit Craig Sager in the head.
If Lin wins, someone somewhere will tweet that the event was fixed.
If Lin doesn’t win, someone somewhere will tweet that the event was fixed.