NBA All-Star Weekend: A Rundown of Who Is Competing in What, and Why
The 2012 NBA All-Star Game weekend is here, and there are plenty of basketball-related festivities leading up to Sunday's classic showdown in Orlando.
Celebrities like Ne-Yo and Penny Hardaway will be balling. The best sharpshooters and rim-thrashers will be competing for bragging rights. Young stars like Jeremy Lin and Kyrie Irving will be battling.
Most importantly, we'll get to see Kevin Durant's Western Conference All-Stars take on LeBron James' Eastern Conference squad Sunday night.
Here is a breakdown of every event of the weekend, who's competing in each event and why.
Sprint Celebrity Game
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When: Friday, 7 p.m., ESPN
The Competition: Entertainment celebrities and basketball legends will join together in an game full of Hollywood star power and basketball royalty. Kevin Durant will coach the West celebrities while Dwight Howard will coach the East celebrities.
It's always fun to see which celebrities are competitors and which former hoop standouts still have game.
Who's Competing: Music stars J. Cole, Javier Colon and Ne-Yo will mix it up. Television personalities are plentiful: Vinny Guadagnino, Kevin Hart, Drew and Jonathan Scott, JB Smoove, Common and Jesse Williams will be balling.
Orlando basketball icons Penny Hardaway and Nick Anderson will also play, as will Mitch Richmond, Doug Gottlieb and WNBA star Tamika Catchings.
Who got snubbed? Wiz Khalifa, Chris Brown, John Krasinski, Channing Tatum and Scott Van Pelt
BBVA Rising Stars Challenge
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When: Friday, 9 p.m., TNT
The Competition: Instead of the usual Rookies vs. Sophomores game, rookies and sophomores will be mixed together and play for Team Shaq and Team Chuck (Charles Barkley).
Jeremy Lin (14.4 ppg, 5.8 apg)
Markieff Morris (7.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg)
Ricky Rubio (11.3 ppg, 8.4 apg)
Landry Fields (10.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg)
Kemba Walker (13.3 ppg, 3.8 apg)
Tristan Thompson (7.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg)
Blake Griffin (21.4 ppg, 11.4 rpg)
Greg Monroe (16.7 ppg, 9.8 rpg)
Norris Cole (8.7 ppg)
Brandon Knight (12.7 ppg, 3.5 apg)
John Wall (16.8 ppg, 7.6 apg)
Derrick Williams (7.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg)
Derrick Favors (8.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
MarShon Brooks (14.6 ppg)
Tiago Splitter (9.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg)
Paul George (12.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg)
DeMarcus Cousins (16.4 ppg, 11.3 rpg)
Evan Turner (8.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
Gordon Hayward (9.4 ppg)
Kawhi Leonard (7.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
Who got snubbed? Jan Vesley, Jimmer Fredette, Wes Johnson, Kenneth Faried and Greivis Vasquez
Haier Shooting Stars
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When: Saturday, 8:30 p.m., TNT
The Competition: It's a timed shooting competition from different spots on the court. Teams from Orlando, Atlanta, New York and Texas will feature one current NBA player, one current WNBA player and one former NBA player.
Team Orlando: The home squad boasts Magic dynamo Jameer Nelson, WNBA All-Star and Florida native Marie Ferdinand-Harris and Orlando Magic icon Dennis Scott.
Team New York: The Big Apple has Knicks forward Landry Fields, New York Liberty All-Star Cappie Pondexter and Knicks legend and current assistant GM Allan Houston.
Team Atlanta: Representing the ATL are Hawks star Joe Johnson, Atlanta Dream Star Lindsey Harding and former Hawks great Steve Smith.
Team Texas: The Lone Star State is in good hands with Orlando native and Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons, San Antonio Silver Stars standout Sophia Young and former Houston Rocket NBA champion Kenny Smith.
Who got snubbed? "Team Phoenix," featuring Grant Hill, Diana Taurasi and Kevin Johnson
Taco Bell Skills Challenge
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When: Saturday, 8:30 p.m. (second event), TNT
The Competition: Top NBA ball-handlers work their way through a timed obstacle course of dribbling, passing and shooting challenges.
Who's Competing: Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, the defending champion, will bring his smooth shooting stroke and dribbling skills.
New Jersey Nets standout Deron Williams is one of the best combo guards in the league, and is averaging 22 points and eight assists per game.
Washington Wizards guard John Wall has lightning speed with the ball and is one of the league's great young stars.
Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Kyrie Irving will show off the athleticism and body control that earned him the top pick in last summer's draft.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook has exceptional agility and ball skills that help him notch 23.5 points and 5.5 assists per game this season.
San Antonio Spurs NBA champion Tony Parker will exhibit the vision and dexterity that makes him such a great floor general.
Who got snubbed? Rajon Rondo, Jose Calderon, Ricky Rubio, Raymond Felton and Derrick Rose
Foot Locker Three-Point Contest
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When: Saturday, 8:30 p.m. (third event), TNT
The Competition: Six three-point sharp-shooters will compete in a two-round contest of long-distance shooting. After an initial round of 25 shots apiece (including five bonus balls), the top three performers will advance to the finals.
Who's Competing: James Jones, Miami Heat (defending champion)
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder (58 three-pointers this season)
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves (49 three-pointers)
Ryan Anderson, Orlando Magic (97 three-pointers)
Anthony Morrow, New Jersey Nets (68 three-pointers)
Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat (68 three-pointers)
Who got snubbed? Brandon Rush, Mike Miller, Matt Bonner, Stephen Curry and J.J. Redick
Sprite Slam Dunk Contest
When: Saturday, 8:30 p.m. (fourth event), TNT
The Competition: Some of the NBA's most acrobatic aerial dunkers will attack the rim in hopes of getting the most votes from fans. It's no longer a three-round playoff, but rather a one-round competition in which each dunker gets three dunks.
Who's Competing: Not Blake Griffin. Not LeBron James. Not DeAndre Jordan. But the group of flyers that are participating aren't slouches by any measure.
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams will use his muscular 6'8" frame and explosive leaping ability to rock the rims in Orlando.
Indiana Pacers guard Paul George has incredible athleticism and undoubtedly has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Utah forward Jeremy Evans doesn't get much burn for the Jazz, and he's a fill-in for the injured Iman Shumpert, but the dude can hop, so I'm sure he'll be worth the watch.
Houston Rockets forward Chase Budinger has been rocking rims since the McDonald's All-American dunk contest in his high school days.
Who got snubbed? DeMar DeRozan, Shannon Brown, DeAndre Jordan, Kenneth Faried and Taj Gibson
NBA All-Star Game
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When: Sunday, 7:30 p.m., TNT
The Competition: The best and brightest NBA stars go head to head in this classic East vs. West showdown.
Dwyane Wade: LeBron's partner in crime is terrorizing East Coast guards and notching 22.4 points and 4.8 assists per game.
Carmelo Anthony: The Big Apple's premiere player is averaging 21.4 points per game.
Dwight Howard: The hometown hero might be on his way out, but he's stuffing the stat sheet before he leaves, giving the Magic more than 20 points and 15 boards a night.
LeBron James: King James is averaging a ridiculous 27.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game.
Derrick Rose: Last year's MVP has carried the Bulls to the top of the Central Division.
East reserves: Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, Roy Hibbert, Andre Iguodala, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams
Kevin Durant: The Durantula is dropping 28 a game and has the Thunder atop the Western Conference.
Kobe Bryant: The Lakers legend still has some juice left, and he's the defending ASG MVP.
Blake Griffin: Los Angeles' other superstar has been on highlight reels 24/7 and is turning the Clippers into a playoff team.
Andrew Bynum: The first-time All-Star is averaging 16 points and 13 rebounds per contest.
Chris Paul: There's no guard out there with the dual threat to score and drop dimes like the Clippers' new point guard.
West reserves: LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Marc Gasol, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook.
Who got snubbed? Monta Ellis, Al Jefferson, Danny Granger, John Wall, Tyreke Evans