NBA All-Star Friday Wrap-up
The NBA All-Star weekend events on Friday kicked off with player interviews, Rising Stars practices, Basketball Hall of Fame announcements, the Sprint All-Star Celebrity Game, and the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. New twists to old events were to be found at every turn as NBA did their best to keep the celebrations fresh.
As much as we enjoyed last year’s Melo-drama, it was refreshing to hear Dwight Howard say that this was not the time to talk about his future, and Deron Williams made things interesting by saying their plans are a secret, but he obviously didn’t want to become a distraction during All-Star celebrations either. The only player drama came from the Suns Steve Nash who kept to the line that he’s been in Phoenix for 10 years and wasn’t asking to leave but would understand if the Suns traded him. A decidedly tame rumor mill compared to last year’s event.
Rising Stars Practice
Usually an All-Star practice isn’t much to watch, but this time the league invited the Guinness Book of World Records as the Rising Stars attempted to break records for the most made half-court shots in a minute by a group and the most made shots from behind the backboard by an individual in a minute.
While the half-court shooting was a disaster, shooting from behind the backboards turned out to be something these kids could do. Evan Turner shattered the record of nine makes with 14 baskets in a minute, immediately asking the Guinness representative for a copy of the Book before someone surpassed him. The record didn’t last long however as Ricky Rubio sunk 18 baskets less than a half hour later. Attempting to break Guinness world records is definitely something worth repeating.
Basketball Hall of Fame Finalists
Earlier today, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced the first five members of the class of 2012 and the 12 finalists who will be considered for induction this September.
The Hall has created five committees who directly elect one new member each, and in their first year, they have directly-elected the following members.
LIDIA ALEXEEVA, coached the Soviet Union National Team to gold medals in the 1976 and 1980 Olympic Games, four FIBA World Championship titles, four World University Games gold medals, 10 European Championships and has 17 USSR National Championships.
DON BARKSDALE, recognized as a contributor, Barksdale broke the color barrier many times. He was the first African-American to be a NCAA All-American, to make the U.S. Olympic basketball team, to be signed by an American Basketball League team, and the first to play in a NBA All-Star game.
MEL DANIELS, a seven-time ABA All-Star, three-time ABA champion and two-time ABA MVP, Daniels is the ABA’s all-time leading rebounder (9,494) and fourth all-time leading scorer (11,739).
CHET WALKER, a seven-time NBA All-Star, Walker scored 18,831 points and grabbed 7,314 rebounds in his 13-year NBA career. He won a championship with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1967.
PHIL KNIGHT, recognized as a contributor, Knight is Nike’s co-founder and Chairman of the Board. He was named the Most Powerful Man in Sports by The Sporting News in 1993.
The Hall also named 12 finalists who must receive 18 of a possible 24 votes from the Honors Committee to be elected.
KATRINA McCLAIN, a USA Basketball national team member who has won two Olympic gold medals, an Olympic Bronze, three FIBA World Championship medals and medals at the Goodwill Games, Pan Am Games and World University Games.
ALL AMERICAN RED HEADS, nominated as a team, they were first women’s professional basketball team and played over six decades from 1936 to 1986.
MAURICE CHEEKS, the four-time All-Star and 1983 NBA champion.
BILL FITCH, a two-time NBA Coach of the Year and 1981 NBA Champion, he has 944 NBA victories.
BERNARD KING, a four-time NBA All-Star, King averaged better than 22 points over a 15-year career.
REGGIE MILLER, a five-time NBA All-Star, Miller played 17 seasons with the Indiana Pacers finishing with 25,279 points and 1,505 steals.
DICK MOTTA, coached five different NBA teams including the Bullets, Bulls, Mavericks, Kings and Nuggets winning an NBA championship and a coach of the year award.
DON NELSON, a three-time coach of the year, Nelson has 1,335 coaching victories, the most by any NBA coach.
HANK NICHOLS, the national coordinator of officials for the NCAA for over 20 years, Nichols was a long-time NCAA basketball referee.
RICK PITINO, coached three different teams to NCAA Final Four appearances and has won over 600 games in his collegiate career. Pitino has been a coach of the year three times.
RALPH SAMPSON, a three-time National College Player of the Year, he had 2,000 points and 1,500 rebounds in college. A number one overall draft pick and rookie of the year, Sampson was named an NBA All-Star three times.
JAMAAL WILKES, a two-time NCAA champion, NBA rookie of the year, three-time NBA All-Star and four-time NBA champion.
The finalists who have been elected will be announced in April and inducted in September.
Next year, fans will be able to vote on the finalists, and the top three fan vote getters will be awarded one additional vote towards membership.
Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game
Last year, this event quickly became the Justin Bieber show. This time, it was the diminutive trash talking Kevin Hart of Laugh At My Pain instead and Hart kicked things off with a 40-point, 10-rebound prediction. East head coach Dwight Howard suggested Hart may end up closer to 40 minutes and 10 turnovers, but Hart did get the last laugh by winning the MVP.
Hart was featured throughout and even got himself ejected at the end while throwing his shoes and jersey for no particular reason. He ended the game with eight points and six assists. The East’s real non-professional basketball player turned out to be Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who finished the game with 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 steals while controlling much of the play at various times during the game.
The East embarrassed the West 86-54; so much for West head coach Kevin Durant’s suggestion that he knows more about basketball than Howard.
BBVA Rising Stars Challenge
For the first time, rookie and sophomore selections were put into a pool and drafted for Team Shaq and Team Chuck in a battle of the color analysts.
Shaq seemed genuinely disappointed in his first overall selection, as Blake Griffin only played 10.5 minutes and scored just 10 points. It could be Griffin was being saved for another more important All-Star game on Sunday. A lack of playing time for Griffin wasn’t Team Shaq’s biggest problem however. In a game with no defense, Team Shaq jacked up 41 three-point attempts and only made 12 of them and they were kind of frustrating to watch. The highlight of the night for Team Shaq was Ricky Rubio dribbling through the legs of DeMarcus Cousins as he pushed the ball up the court.
Charles Barkley was obviously enjoying himself as Team Chuck outscored Team Shaq by 146-133 behind a 34-point, 9-assist effort from Kyrie Irving. Irving was 8-8 from three-point range and Team Chuck was a conservative 11-20 from deep.
The game ended with the teams taking turns attempting uncontested slam dunk contest type plays.
With little surprise, Irving won MVP, as no one else was within 10 points of his scoring.
All-Star Friday is just the start of the events and the best is yet to come on Saturday and Sunday so stay tuned to HOOPSWORLD all weekend.