Kenneth Faried kept dunking without anyone disturbing him, making 18 of his 22 field goal attempts, as he led team Chuck to a 163-135 win over Team Shaq in the opening event of the 2013 All-Star weekend, the Rising Stars Challenge, which still doesn’t really work despite the various attempts to add some missing ingredient into the mix.
Maybe it should go into a West – East format, just like the “old” guys do. There’s no real reason for teams simply picked by two former NBA greats, without any chance for the fans to take sides. Taking sides, rooting for someone, is one of the important factors in a sport competition, even the All-Star games. The home fans will route for the Rockets, so Chandler Parsons got a little bit of love, but that wasn’t enough. No real identity to go with.
Yes, we had Faried getting fed by Ricky Rubio (10 assists) for dunk after dunk, while on the other side Kyrie Irving broke a few ankles with some insane dribbling. Damian Lillard tried a bit too hard to show it’s his time too, finishing with 7-17 from the field and 2-10 from beyond the arc on the losing side. Dion Waiters, also playing for the Shaquilles, had an impressive 11-12.
The last few minutes devolved into a spontaneous dunk contest, with players taking turns showing off their acrobatic moves while the others stood and watched. Instead of seeing a game become serious, like all the great All-Star games do, the Rising Stars Challenge just loses momentum as the game goes along, held on 1-on-1 duels and guys competing about who throws the better dunks.
The All-Star weekend still has some magic it in besides the big game, and there was definitely something to be done about sophomores vs rookies, but two random teams isn’t the answer as well. It’s nice for players like Faried to show they aerial ability, but that still isn’t fully tapping the potential of a game that could be much better.