NBA All-Star Weekend 2012 officially kicks off Friday in Orlando. Here’s a schedule of all the top-tier All-Star Weekend events.
Usually known as the Rookie/Sophomore Game, the 2012 edition of the Rising Stars Challenge is different because TNT analysts Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley selected the rosters from a pool of the top first- and second-year players. Reigning Rookie of the Year winner Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin headline Team Shaq. Top overall draft choice Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers and versatile big-man DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings anchor Team Chuck.
All-Star Saturday Night opens with the Haier Shooting Stars, which pits the defending champion Team Atlanta against Team Orlando, Team New York, and Team Texas.
The next event is the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, in which six of the league’s top point guards battle to complete an obstacle course that tests their dribbling, passing, and shooting ability. Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, the defending champion, will take on Irving, Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets.
The Foot Locker Three-Point Contest follows the Skills Challenge in which Magic forward Ryan Anderson will challenge the defending champion James Jones of the Miami Heat. Other competitors include Mario Chalmers of the Miami Heat, Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City, Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Anthony Morrow of the New Jersey Nets. Durant replaces Atlanta Hawks swingman Joe Johnson, who will sit out the contest due to injury.
The Sprite Slam Dunk Contest concludes All-Star Saturday Night. This year’s dunk showdown features four players who have never before competed; it’s all fresh faces. Also, the dunk contest will debut a new, one-round format in which each competitor has the opportunity to execute three dunks. The field is Chase Budinger of the Houston Rockets, Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, and Derrick Williams of Minnesota. Evans replaces Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert, who had to bow out of the competition due to injury.
The main event of the weekend finally tips Sunday evening. Magic center Dwight Howard, the leading vote-getter among all players, will start for the East, while Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will tie a record for consecutive All-Star appearances with 14.
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