The Five Best ‘Rookie Game’ Performances
The “Rookie Challenge” (as it was initially titled) was added to the All-Star Weekend festivities for the first time back in 1994. Over the first five years of its existence, it featured strictly rookies. However, beginning in 2000, it was transformed, adding sophomores to the mix.
Over the history of the event, there have been some incredible displays of talent, remarkable sharp-shooting, and otherworldly athleticism. Listed below are the top individual performances in “Rising Stars” history:
1. Kevin Durant Pours in 46 Points
Back in 2009, Durant, amazingly just 20 years old at the time, set the (still-standing) record for most points scored in the Rising Stars Challenge. KD needed just 25 shots (he finished 17-of-25 from the floor) to put 46 points on the board. He was a no-brainer selection as MVP, leading the Sophomores to a 122-116 victory over the Rookies at the U.S. Airways Center.
2. David Lee Plays Perfectly
Lee came out of nowhere to capture MVP honors in 2007. Lee, a late first-round pick in the 2006 draft, wasn’t even invited to play in the game as a rookie (his teammates Channing Frye and Nate Robinson did participate), but earned a spot on the Sophomore squad in his second season. In the game, he was a perfect 14-for-14 from the field and finished with a game-high 30 points. He also grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 4 assists. The Sophomores won in a rout, 155-114.
3. Kyrie Irving Heats Up From Behind the Arc
Irving has been tapped to participate in the Three-Point Shootout on All-Star Saturday Night this weekend; he can only hope he locates the stroke he exhibited last year at this time. Irving nailed all eight three-pointers he launched in last year’s Rising Stars game in 2012. He ended the evening with a game-high 34 points and team-high nine dimes, leading Team Chuck to the 146-133 victory.
4. John Wall – In a Giving Mood
Coming into 2011, the Rookie-Sophomore Game record for assists was 17, set by Chris Paul back in 2007. John Wall obliterated that mark with 22 assists, leading the Rookies to a 148-140 victory over the Sophomores. Many of this assists led to baskets by DeMarcus Cousins (Wall’s college teammate at Kentucky) who finished with 33 points and 14 boards.
5. Boobie Goes Bonkers from Downtown
Daniel Gibson saw limited action as a reserve off the Cleveland bench during the regular season, but played a staring role in the Rising Stars Challenge in February of 2008. Boobie knocked down a record-setting 11 three-pointers to lead the Sophomores to victory. Gibson shot 11-of-20 from behind the arc, ending the night with 33 points and the MVP trophy.