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Nerlens Noel and Robert Covington vs. The World: An NBA Rising Stars Challenge (and Celebrity Game) Preview

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Tonight begins NBA All-Star Weekend (schedule here). The glitz. The glamor. The takes. All of it. We're still a few years out from when the All-Star festivities will be entirely Sixers-run, so enjoy seeing players from "other teams" while it lasts. JaKAll-Star Sampson 2016.

Take a moment before we dive into the Celebrity Game and Rookie-Sophomore-World-Rising-USA-Universe-Boners Game previews and click on the two posts to the right. They are some of the best LB has to offer. Our wheelhouse is esoteric references of yesteryear, Kristaps Porzingis chats, and really nothing else. OK, to the previews.


I'm tempted to just write BLOW ME CELEBRITY GAME in flashing pink letters, but I don't know how to make pink letters flash on here so I s'pose I'll just preview it. Here's the roster:

Abhishek Bachchan (Bollywood star) -- Don't sleep on Abhish. Quick hips on that one, one of the best pick-and-roll defenders working in Bollywood today.

Allan Houston (Former NBA All-Star and New York Knicks Assistant General Manager) -- Whichever team he's on just went over the luxury tax.

Ansel Elgort ("The Fault in Our Stars") - Friend Of The Blog, Michael H. Weber, who co-wrote the film through which this young fella gained stardom, would neither confirm nor deny whether Elgort will be wearing a Rik Smits jersey during the game.

Anthony Anderson (ABC's "Blackish") - Two Can Play That Game remains my all-time favorite movie. Anthony Anderson has never been better. I'd rather see Mo Chestnut in this game, but he's probably too busy looking fly.

Blake Leeper (Gold medal-winning U.S. Paralympic athlete) - So awesome. Watch him in the open court.

Chadwick Boseman ("42") - Also flashed some decent athleticism as the hardest working man in show business in Get On Up, but people don't talk about how James Brown was a better athlete than Jackie Robinson. It's not true, but people don't talk about it.

Kristen Ledlow (NBA TV's "NBA Inside Stuff" co-host) - MVP. Book it.

Mo'ne Davis (Little League World Series star) - I have no issue with her wearing a Steph Curry jersey the other night. Her shot selection, however, is a different story.

Nick Cannon ("America's Got Talent" host) - I desperately want Nick Cannon to go away. UNLESS: Drumline sequel, or Love Don't Cost a Thing sequel. Christina Milian, folks.

Michael Rapaport (actor, Knicks fan, director of ESPN 30 for 30's "When the Garden was Eden") - Always get a mic on Michael Rapaport. He'll be playing in this game when he's 80.

Robert Pera (Memphis Grizzlies owner) - Speaking of 80. I don't know how old Robert Pera is actually, but if you own an NBA team, you're 80 (apologies to Josh Harris). Talk about strongarming your way into something. Yikes.

Win Butler (lead singer of Arcade Fire) - Huge basketball fan! I had no idea until Friend Of The Blog Jason Lipshutz directed me to his Billboard interview with Win, where he got Win to say "Joel Embiid is awesome" -- reportedly the name of the next Arcade Fire LP. He's a self-described Stretch 4, so let's see how that manifests itself tonight.

Levin's MVP Rankings
3. Mo'ne Davis
2. Blake Leeper
1. Kristen Ledlow
1A. Franklin coming in from the crowd, like Edge circa 1999.


It is wildly fitting that Michael Carter-Williams's injury got Robert Covington into the game. As I boldly, conspiratorially claimed a month ago: there's no way the NBA was letting the Sixers get more than two guys into this game. So even though Covington deserved it over, like, everyone, they had to go Sixer-for-Sixer (you never go Sixer-for-Sixer) to make it a non-tank-endorsing two Philadelphia 76ers in the Rising Somethings Game, along with Nerlens Noel.

This year, for some reason, it's America versus Everyone Else, which means Oh Shit Andrew Wiggins Is From Canada We're Gonna Lose. The rosters are stacked crooked against the homeland, but let's take a look at 'em anyway.


With Steven Adams and Kelly Olynyk injured, the world team gets blessed with Sixers secret agent Matthew Dellavedova and Kostas Papanikolaou. Talk about Friday night excitement!

I'm actually quite looking forward to a lineup of Dennis Schroder, Dante Exum, Andrew Wiggins, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Rudy Gobert, if only to see them pick the noses of everyone in the arena at the same time (you can pick your fans, you can pick your noses, but can you pick your fans' noses indeed). God that's fun. Nikola Mirotic, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Gorgui Dieng also star. Furkan Aldemir seethes from home.


Trey Burke disappoints me. According to my fantasy team, he shoots 11% from the field. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope bores me because he's in Detroit, but he's been better. Zach LaVine can bite it. Shabazz Muhammad, also bite it. Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton, and Mason Plumlee are my absolute BOYS. I got no beef with Cody Zeller, although I hope he pulls off his jersey midway through to reveal a... Luke Zeller jersey! To much fanfare and hysteria.

But this game is about Bob. Hopefully Nerlens does some stuff, sure. A dunk here, a block there, maybe he hoists a three for funsies. But let's be real. Bob Covington is about to become a household name. Does he get the bright green light like he does in the season? He better if the US wants to win. I'm predicting an MVP for Bob, six to eight "who is this guy!"'s from the announce team, and a few tampering lawsuits for Sam Hinkie as to how the hell he could've gotten LORD ROBERT for a near-free four years.


Also watch out for a surprise 10 blocks from the wasn't-invited KJ McDaniels, and 10 has-to-be-detained's from KJ McDaniels's mom.

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