NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by America Online (9 p.m. ET, TNT)
PlayStation Skills Challenge Preview
Feb. 18, 2005 - Four of the NBA's top point guards get to show off their touch Saturday Night in the PlayStation Skills Challenge, a two-round timed obstacle course of dribbling, passing and shooting stations.
Earl Boykins, the diminutive point guard of the hometown Denver Nuggets, returns after finishing third in last year's competition. Boykins is joined by Washington's Gilbert Arenas, Phoenix's All-Star guard Steve Nash and Seattle's Luke Ridnour.
NBA.com caught up with the four participants on Friday to get the inside scoop on the competition.
GILBERT ARENAS, Washington Wizards
Q: How do you think you will perform in the skills challenge.
Arenas: I told Earl that I need the money more than he does. I need to see it before I can give a prediction. Shooting and dribbling I can do, but passing into a little hole, I am not sure I can do that yet. But I will do my best and most likely I will come out with the win.
Q: What does it mean to be here playing amongst the best in the world?
Arenas: It is exciting, I think I have only slept about 10 hours since I was named to the All-Star team. I grew up watching these All-Star games and now people are watching me. Truthfully, if they do not play me one minute, I will still be excited and happy that I made it here. .
Q: What are you looking forward to most this weekend?
Arenas: I am just happy about all this. You know, I was picked 31 (in the draft). You can never expect this. Come on, I am not even going to lie. I am just happy to be here.
EARL BOYKINS, Denver Nuggets
Q: What is your expectation for the Skills Challenge?
Boykins: I expect it to be a good competition. I think the other three participants are very good and have great basketball skills and great point guard skills so I expect it to be a great competition.
Q: Have you practiced for the skills competition?
Boykins: No I haven't, no.
Q: Is the skills competition one of those things that you go out there initially just looking to have a good time, but when the competition heats up you get a little more serious?
Boykins: Yes. At first everyone is fun and games until you are actually on the clock and then it becomes competitive.
Q: Outside of yourself, who do you think will win?
Boykins: Gilbert. I think he is a lot faster than people think. He is the wildcard.
Q: What does it mean to you to be able to play in front of your home crowd?
Boykins: It’s great because you have an advantage. Participants from the host city always have an advantage. They know the city and they know the arena, so I am looking definitely forward to it.
STEVE NASH, Phoenix Suns
Q: Do you think the Skills Challenge will be fun?
Nash: Well, I am just doing my part. That is about it, I am being a company man.
Q: Is this weekend much of a break for you, is it fun?
Nash: This weekend is both. It is a bit of a break and a lot of fun, but it is a lot of work too. We are not on a beach somewhere, there are a lot of obligations and it is not only about going out and playing ball.
Q: A lot of people are considering you for an MVP candidate. What are your thought s about that?
Nash: It is just flattering. It is almost like winning by just being mentioned. I was offered one college scholorship and to be considered an MVP candidate is fun and flattering and I am just enjoying it and enjoying my team.
LUKE RIDNOUR, Seattle SuperSonics
Q: What are your thoughts about the Skills Competition?
Ridnour: I'm gonna have fun. I've never done it before, so it's a good chance to get out there and run around and hopefully do alright on it.
Q: Any particular part of the event that worries you?
Ridnour: No, not really. I think it's all pretty much just what a point guard does, so I'm looking forward to just going out there and doing it all and having some fun.
Q: How does it feel to be involved in your first All-Star Weekend?
Ridnour It is really cool to be a part of this and be down here. This is the first time for me so I get a chance to learn what it is all about. I get a chance to meet a lot of knew people and it really fun and I am excited about it.