New Orleans, LA (SportsNetwork.com) - In what has become a highlight of the
NBA calendar, All-Star Saturday festivities will commence from Smoothie King
The night starts off with the Shooting Stars competition, followed by the
Skills Challenge, the 3-Point Shootout and the main event, a showcase of
athleticism known as the Slam-Dunk Contest.
Or, one could call All-Star Saturday, "Damian Lillard Day."
The Portland All-Star, who competed in the Rising Stars game on Friday, is
scheduled to participate in the Skills Challenge, 3-Point Shootout and Slam-
Dunk Contest on Saturday.
"I'm happy that I'm really a part of the weekend. I get to compete in all
these events, and just to be in these guys' company with all these stars,"
said Lillard. "It let's you know that the hard work is paying off."
This year, much like last, Saturday's competitions are broken down into East
vs. West. Paul George of the Indiana Pacers is the East captain, while Steph
Curry guides the West. Both are starters in Sunday's All-Star game.
Saturday's happenings start at 8 p.m. ET.
Up first will be the Shooting Stars, a simple enough competition where current
NBAers join a legend and a WNBA star in a shooting contest from all over the
The first round will feature teams from the same conference against each
other. The winning teams advance to the final round for the title.
Each competitor will be stationed at one of the first three places, and the
shot must be made before the next can be attempted. All three will chuck it up
from near half-court and the team with the best time wins.
It's a family affair for two of the teams as Curry will join his father Dell
Curry and Becky Harmon of the San Antonio Silver Stars. On the East team, Tim
Hardaway, Jr. of the New York Knicks will partner with his dad Tim and Elena
Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky.
Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder will pair with Karl Malone and
Skylar Diggins of the Tulsa Shock. The other East team is the defending
champion trio of Miami's Chris Bosh, Dominique Wilkins and Swin Cash of the
The Skills Challenge underwent some changes this year. Now, there will be two
two-man teams from each conference competing against each other to reach the
East vs. West final. It will now be a relay format.
The Eastern teams will be rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks
and All-Star DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors as well as rookies Michael
Carter-Williams of the 76ers and Orlando's Victor Oladipo.
The West will be represented by Lillard and Utah Jazz first-year player Trey
Burke and the tandem of Goran Dragic of the Phoenix Suns and Reggie Jackson of
the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The 3-Point Shootout remained largely untouched, although the East v. West
format remains intact. The player from the Eastern Conference with the most
points will meet the player from the Western Conference with the most points.
However, there is one new wrinkle this year.
Each player can make one of the five locations to a full rack of five money
balls, each worth two points.
Defending champion Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers anchors the East
team of Orlando's Arron Afflalo, Washington's Bradley Beal and Joe Johnson of
the Brooklyn Nets.
Curry and Lillard are on the West team alongside All-Star starter Kevin Love,
who won the title in 2012, and San Antonio Spur Marco Belinelli.
And now, it's time for the main event.
This year's edition of the Slam-Dunk contest will see many changes, first of
which is a Freestyle Round.
Let's let the NBA explain:
"In a significant first in the event's history, the competition will tip off
with a Freestyle Round where the dunkers for each conference will have 90
seconds to showcase as many dunks as they want. At the conclusion of the
Freestyle Round, the panel of judges will then choose a winner by voting
'East' or 'West.' The winning conference will earn the advantage of deciding
whether its dunkers will dunk first or second in the head-to-head battles that
take place in the Battle Round."
The Battle Round?
"The Battle Round will feature head-to-head matchups pitting East dunkers vs.
West dunkers, with the judges choosing a winner for each battle. Upon losing a
head-to-head battle, that dunker is then eliminated from the competition. The
first team to win three battles will win the competition and be crowned 2014
Sprite Slam Dunk champions."
No individual champion?
"At the conclusion of the team competition, fans will then have the
opportunity to vote for the player of their choice as the 'Sprite Slam Dunker
of the Night' through SMS, Twitter, NBA.com and the NBA GameTime app."
For the first time since 1988, there will be three All-Stars in the Slam-Dunk
Contest. George and John Wall of the Washington Wizards team with defending
champion Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors, and out West, Lillard, Golden
State's Harrison Barnes and Sacramento's Ben McLemore round out the team.
The Sports Network