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For the first time in seven years, the Philadelphia 76ers will be represented at All-Star Saturday Night. Do us proud, Jrue.
The Jrue Holiday All-Star Extravaganza kicks off tonight with the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. In short, the Skills Challenge is a two-round timed competition that entails dribbling around obstacles, passing the ball into nets and shooting from various spots on the court.
Holiday will definitely have his work cut out for him tonight - the rest of the field in the point guard-centric competition is pretty impressive: Brandon Knight, Jeff Teague, Tony Parker, Damian Lillard and Jeremy Lin are all vying to win the shiny silver trophy, untold thousands of dollars and a lifetime supply of Doritos Locos Tacos. Yes, even the Cool Ranch ones.
Be sure to keep an eye on Parker, who is looking to become the third two-time winner of the Skills Challenge (Steve Nash won in '05 and '10, and Dwyane Wade won in '06 and '07). And for those of you who love records, Deron Williams' time of 25.5 seconds is the fastest ever recorded in the contest's 11-year history.
Obviously, we'd love it if Jrue won (he DOES happen to be favored, after all), but even if he doesn't, it'll be nice to see one of our own in a meaningless All-Star competition. No Sixer has been invited to All-Star Saturday Night since Andre Iguodala made the finals of the 2006 Slam Dunk Contest, AND WE ALL REMEMBER HOW THAT TURNED OUT.
If you weren't able to tune into Friday night's festivities, you didn't miss much. There was a "celebrity" basketball game that boasted such luminaries as Josh Hutcherson (Peeta from The Hunger Games), Ryen Russillo (ESPN Radio host) and Terrence Jenkins (some dude who used to host BET's 106 and Park). Comedian Kevin Hart (five points, three rebounds, one assist) took home MVP honors. Seriously.
The Rising Stars Challenge was a bit more entertaining, but not by much. Team Chuck beat Team Shaq 163-135 in a matchup that was so captivating, Charles Barkley didn't bother to show up at the start of the game to coach the team that he handpicked. Perhaps he fell ill after looking at Craig Sager's latest suit.
Of course, a dunking exhibition broke out at the end of the rookie/sophomore game because that's what happens at the end of these games now. However, the highlight of the night was an impromptu one-on-one battle between Cleveland's Kyrie Irving and Detroit's Brandon Knight. Shortly after Irving broke Knight's ankles the first time, the phrase "Damn Kyrie" actually started trending on Twitter.
The All-Star Saturday Night action kicks off at 8:30 PM Eastern, so unless you're one of the 17 people who enjoy the Shooting Stars contest, you can probably tune in around 9:10 or so for the start of the Skills Competition. And don't forget to eat a bowl of Fruity Pebbles for good luck.