Like the NFL, the NBA is trying new things this year to reinvigorate the All-Star Game in the minds of fans.
On paper, the new-look spectacle has what it takes to be a wildly entertaining affair worthy of a fan's time investment. Even better, the events on Saturday, Feb. 15 will ultimately go to a good cause, as NBA.com's Fran Blinebury details:
Each conference will be competing for charity. A total of $500,000 will be donated at the end of the night. For each competition, $100,000 will go to the winning conference’s charities, with $25,000 going to the charities of the runner-up.
What the NBA has in store for fans is outstanding and has an admirable end result. Add in a new format, and the weekend's festivities may prove to be the best to date.
|NBA All Star Weekend 2014|
|Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game||Friday, Feb. 14, 7 p.m. ET||ESPN|
|BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge||Friday, Feb. 14, 9 p.m. ET||TNT|
|NBA D-League All-Star Game||Saturday, Feb 15, 3p.m. ET||NBA TV|
|Sears Shooting Stars||Saturday, Feb 15, coverage starts at 8 p.m. ET||TNT|
|Taco Bell Skills Challenge||Saturday, Feb 15, coverage starts at 8 p.m. ET||TNT|
|Foot Locker Three-Point Contest||Saturday, Feb 15, coverage starts at 8 p.m. ET||TNT|
|Sprite Slam Dunk||Saturday, Feb 15, coverage starts at 8 p.m. ET||TNT|
|2014 NBA All-Star Game||Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, 8 p.m. ET||TNT|
Note: All info courtesy of league's website unless otherwise specified.
Sears Shooting Stars
The opening act on Saturday night is sure to be a lively one, as the Shooting Stars format features two rounds and two teams from both conferences.
In the first round, conferences will compete against each other. The winning team from each side then advances to the championship round. As always, teams must make four shots from different spots on the court, with the highlight of each round being the half-court shot.
Luck usually plays a factor in the long-distance lob, but skill rules the rest. Once again, a current NBA player, a legend and a WNBA player will compose each team.
Father-son duos are the spotlight here. Tim Hardaway Sr. and his son Tim Hardaway Jr. from the New York Knicks will pair with Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky for the Easter Conference. Apparently, the legend of the team needs some work, as Jr. told reporters, via Jonah Ballow of the Knicks' website:
On the opposite side, Dell Curry will team with son Steph of the Golden State Warriors, with Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Stars rounding out the team.
Taco Bell Skills Challenge
The Taco Bell Skills Challenge will follow the exact same format and structure as the event prior, but with a focus on speed in a two-man relay race with the only participants being current NBA players.
The aptly named challenge will bring out the best in all competitors as the obstacle course tests their dribbling, passing and shooting. NBA Philippines provides a full look at both rosters:
Damian Lillard, the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year and reigning NBA Skills Challenge champion, is the obvious highlight of the event and figures to be in strong contention once again.
Foot Locker Three-Point Contest
This is far from the three-point contest of old.
One little wrinkle to the event will surely make it interesting again, as an element of strategy has been introduced to the contest via an entire rack of "money" balls, the striped basketballs that count as two points and are typically the last ball in each rack.
Brian Martin of NBA.com perfectly captures the essence of the new feature:
Each participant will be able to place an entire rack of "money balls" at any one of the five stations on the court with every ball on the rack worth two points.
If a player feels most comfortable in the right corner, they can make every shot from that station worth two points. The decision on where to place this rack and the execution on these valuable shots is huge.
Like the events before it, the contest also features two rounds with players from the same conference facing off with each other before advancing to the final round to face the opposite conference.
With names like Curry, Kyrie Irving and Arron Afflalo in the mix, this new three-point contest may steal the show.
Sprite Slam Dunk
Creativity and teamwork is the name of the game in the new NBA Slam Dunk contest.
More camaraderie than ever will be on display now that the contestants have been split into two sides, once again by conference.
The two-round showdown opens with a freestyle round for each conference that gives the three players 90 seconds to work with in a collaborative manner. The judges will assign a conference winner, before things get hectic in the "battle" round.
In that round, head-to-head elimination matches featuring players from opposing conferences will decide which side ultimately wins.
Perhaps best of all, fans get to then vote and crown the "Sprite Dunker of the Night" via social media and mobile devices.
This year also features some impressive star power in the main event. Defending champ Terrence Ross leads Paul George and John Wall for the Eastern Conference, while the Western Conference consists of Harrison Barnes, Damian Lillard and Ben McLemore.
Don't miss out.