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Top pick Rose finishes Skills Challenge with a flair

By Rob Peterson,
Posted Feb 15 2009 1:30AM

PHOENIX -- Last June, Derrick Rose was the first player selected in the 2008 Draft. On All-Star Saturday Night, Rose was first again.

Finishing off his winning time of 35.3 seconds with an emphatic double-pump reverse dunk, the Chicago Bulls guard became the first rookie to win the PlayStation Skills Challenge when he defeated New Jersey's Devin Harris in the championship round.

"It means a lot," Rose said of the win. "I'm a part of history with some of the greatest players in the league that have won this award."

Rose, who leads all rookies with 6.3 assists per game, finished the course 4.4 seconds faster than the Nets' point guard did.

Related Video
Playstation Skills Challenge
DRose edges Harris in the Skills Challenge with a time of 35.3 seconds to take the Skills Challenge at All-Star Weekend.
Play 2:37

Rose also breezed through his first round with a time of 33.3 seconds, 3.3 seconds ahead of Harris, 4.2 seconds ahead of Cleveland's Mo Williams and nearly a quarter of a minute faster than San Antonio's Tony Parker's 50.8 seconds. The Spurs' point guard now holds the dubious distinction of having the two slowest times ever recorded in Skills Challenge history. In 2003, Parker finished the course in 45.5 seconds.

Rose, however, made his two runs look easy, never using more than two attempts at any station in either round. He admitted, however, one station proved to be a little nerve-wracking.

"The bounce pass," Rose said. "I knew when I got those two in, the crowd got to me and I came up a little short on my jump shots. I was scared a little bit.

"But the bounce pass was the hardest thing."

In the championship round, Harris found the top of the key jumper to be the most difficult. Harris has shown an improved outside shot this season, but his stroke left him when it counted. He needed four attempts to sink the 20-footer.

Rose needed only two shots to complete the shooting station. And despite needing two passes to get through the outlet station, Rose had plenty of time to measure his funky dunk. Rose said he was inspired by a two-time Skills Challenge champ to finish off his win with flair.

"I always saw D-Wade [dunk] at the end," Rose said.

Maybe next year, Rose can be the first player since Wade to go back-to-back.

"I really can't wait," Rose said. "Of course the season isn't over with, but next year -- this summer, I'll work harder, work on my weaknesses and just go hard throughout the whole summer."


2008: Williams wins

Deron Williams breezed through the 2008 Playstation Skills Challenge so easily, it looked like a video game.

Williams shook off some jitters in the first round and was flawless in the finals (no missed shots, every pass through the hoops) in setting a record time at All-Star Saturday Night in New Orleans.

Better yet for Williams: he edged Chris Paul for the trophy.

"It's a rivalry," Williams said. "We like to go against each other.

Deron Williams made it look easy at the 2008 Playstation Skills Challenge.
Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

"I'm a competitive guy, so I kind of did want the victory. Even though it's about fun, I wanted to win so I'm happy about that."

Not moving at full speed, Williams clocked 31.2 seconds in the first round. In the final round, he covered the course in 25.5 seconds, just one tick off the all-time mark set by Steve Nash in the first round in 2005. Paul, the All-Star point guard of the host New Orleans Hornets, posted a strong final-round time of 31.2.

His perfect round started off with a dunk (instead of the safe bet of a lay-up that most contestants usually go for) and ended with an even more impressive flush.

2008 Playstation Skills Challenge
Watch Deron Williams' record-setting run through the 2008 Playstation Skills Challenge
Play :54

Paul clocked a final-round time of 31.2 seconds, making two key miscues when he had to attempt the first chest pass twice and the jump shot twice.

Paul and Williams made it to the finals after finishing the first round in 29.9 and 31.2, respectively.

Dwyane Wade, who had won the event the last two seasons, didn't practice the course beforehand and his rust showed. He struggled to finish the course, taking 53.9 seconds and ran into problems everywhere from shooting (four missed jumpers) to dribbling out of bounds.

New Jersey's Jason Kidd also competed, bowing out after finishing the course in 39.7 seconds in the first round.

2007: Wade repeats

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade took home the PlayStation Skills Challenge title for the second straight year, posting a final-round time of 26.4 seconds to best Los Angeles' Kobe Bryant. Wade's first-round time of 31.3 seconds was second only to Bryant (29.8) and eliminated Cleveland's LeBron James (35.4) and New Orleans/Oklahoma City's Chris Paul (39.6).

2006: Wade Earns Skills Championship

Miami's Dwyane Wade was crowned as the 2006 PlayStation Skills Challenge champion, defeating Cleveland's LeBron James in the final round by completing the obstacle course in 26.1 seconds to James' 33.7-second time. New Orleans/Oklahoma City rookie Chris Paul and 2005 champion Steve Nash of Phoenix were eliminated in the first round with times of 42.6 and 52.8 seconds, respectively. Wade had the top first-round time with 39 seconds flat while James finished the course in 40.5 seconds to reach the finals.

2005: Nash Claims Skills Crown

Steve Nash clearly distanced himself from the rest of the field in 2005 and easily won the PlayStation Skills Challenge. The Phoenix point guard posted the top times in both the first and final rounds, claiming victory with a contest-best 25.4 seconds.

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