This weekend is the NBA’s All-Star Weekend, filled with numerous contests and the All-Star game itself. Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers is going to be the first player in NBA history to compete in five different events during the weekend in New Orleans.
Lillard will compete in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night, which is a game that the rookies and sophomores compete in. In years past the game was strictly rookies versus sophomores, but this year Grant Hill and Chris Webber drafted their respective teams. Lillard was drafted to Team Hill, where he will be joined by the likes of Harrison Barnes, Bradley Beal, and Andre Drummond among other sophomores and a couple rookies.
Saturday night of All-Star Weekend always features different contests that player compete in. Lillard will look to defend his Taco Bell Skills Challenge title, as he won the event as a rookie a season ago. There has only been one player to repeat in this event since its inception in 2003 and that player is Steve Nash. This contest features skills such as making a layup to open, dribbling displays, passing in various fashions and a jump shot. This is a guard-oriented challenge.
Next for Lillard is the Foot Locker three-point shootout, where each player has one minute to shoot 30 shots. There are five racks of basketballs that the players shoot from. The first four balls of each rack are worth one point; with the final ball of each rack is the “money ball” and it worth two points. The best score for a round is 30. Lillard is shooting 40% from beyond the arc this season.
Once he is done with that event, he will turn his attention to the main event of the evening: the Sprite Slam Dunk contest. Lillard will look to take the title from the reigning, defending champ, Terrance Ross of the Toronto Raptors. Lillard will be joined by fellow All-Stars John Wall and Paul George, making this the first time since the legendary 1988 dunk contest that features three All-Stars.
Then comes the cream of the crop, the All-Star Game on Sunday, where the best of the best compete in an exhibition game, where there is minimal defense played. Lillard is an All-Star for the first time and will look to make a name for himself, playing alongside guys like Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, while squaring off against the likes of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and many others.
Some have questioned whether or not this will tire Lillard out, but what those people fail to realize is that he is a 23-year old ball player. This cat doesn’t leave the gym much. Last year Lillard took the league by storm, winning the Rookie of the Year award. This season, Lillard and fellow Trailblazers and All-Star teammate LaMarcus Aldridge, are leading Portland to great success. The Blazers are one of the young up-and-coming teams that have a legitimate shot of making the NBA Finals in June. Lillard is averaging 20.7 points per game and 5.7 assists per game this season. He was given a great opportunity this year to be in five different contests, but it’s something he looks forward to. This weekend is essentially about the fans and Lillard will look to put on quite the show for them this weekend.