We know who will be displaying their talents in the 2013 NBA All-Star Game, but if you're like me you enjoy the other events that weekend just as much as the game itself. Not the Celebrity game or the Shooting Stars Challenge. Those don't do it for me. I'm talking the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, and the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. These events offer a chance to see some of the skilled roleplayers in the league show their talents to the world alongside some established stars. Because this is the internet and nobody is ever happy, I took issue with some of the players selected to play last year. These are the players I'd like to see this All-Star Break.
We start with the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. Hopefully I'm not alone in saying that I far prefer the contest as a Rookie-Sophomore Challenge. Seeing draft class compete against draft class added an extra layer to the delicious cake that was the game. Unfortunately, the new format has hilariously dubbed "analysts" Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal selecting players with either rookie or sophomore eligibility for their teams and having at it. Lame. I don't have too much to say about the game, because it's fairly easy to select the participants. However, I do hope Chris Copeland makes it. He seems like a cool bro and is probably one of the 9 most productive rookies this season. Unfortunately, we all know Austin Rivers will get picked even though he's been terrible just like I and everyone else predicted. Kyrie Irving will probably become the first player to repeat as Rising Stars MVP because he's Kyrie Irving.
On to the Skills Challenge. In case you've never watched it, the Challenge asks players to navigate a dribbling course, pass the ball through narrow targets, hit a jump shot, and finish with a layup. It's way more fun than it sounds in text. I think they have 6 participants for this event so let's go with: Ricky Rubio, Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Jrue Holiday, Kemba Walker, and Jeremy Lin. Rubio is the obvious choice every year he's healthy enough to play. Kyrie is a ton of fun and has the handle and shooting touch to make a run at this. Paul is the best PG in the league and I just want to see him back in the event. Jrue is really popular this year and is a well-rounded guard. Kemba would just be fun to watch. And if you think the NBA won't find a way to put Jeremy Lin into All-Star Weekend in Houston you're kidding yourself. He would have a legitimate case anyways: Immensely popular, solid handle and midrange rooting touch, impressive passer. I'd like to see Lin win because I still love the guy and it's nice to see racial diversity during these big events. Hopefully more young Asian-American men and women pick up the basketball.
The Three Point Shootout is a fun watch. Guys like James Jones who rarely get burn can get the chance to show their shooting touch. Cool stuff. I'd like to see Jimmer Fredette, Matt Bonner, Steve Novak, Steph Curry, Kyle Korver, and Klay Thompson. That's a whole lot of white guys and I'd rather not risk perpetuating any stereotypes but MAN these guys are fun to watch. Jimmer was fun in college with that infinite range and he's been decent this year. #LetBonnerShoot. Steve Novak is becoming really popular and he's a beast at shooting competitions. Trust me. Watch him warm up before a game if you can. Curry might be the best pure shooter in NBA history, and I swear I'm not exaggerating. He's that damn good. Korver's leading the league in 3PT%, and the Hawks should be able to watch at least one of their guys this year. Klay just has a beautiful stroke. Worth it to watch him shoot. Honorable mentions to OJ Mayo, Kevin Martin, and Ryan Anderson. I wouldn't be upset if one of them replaced Jimmer or Steph.
Finally, we have the dunk contest. Honestly, this event has been kind of poopy recently. Blake jumped over a car with a choir in the background, but the dunk wasn't honestly that incredible. Last year was almost unwatchable at times, with Derrick Williams just unable to convert one of his dunks and too many celebrity appearances. Let's clean this up. Put in four legit dunkers. Charismatic guys who can leap and perform acrobatics in the air. That's what the people want. I'm going with Alonzo Gee, Kenneth Faried, James White, and Andre Drummond. Gee deserves some note; the guy can yam. Faried is agile and athletic and just a joy. White can actually fly. Drummond is far quicker than any man that size should be. I like having a big man in the contest to add variety, and you'll rarely see a more gifted athlete than Drummond.
So that's my list. Please feel free to drop any names I might have forgotten, or perhaps check these guys out on youtube. What do you think?