NEW YORK, Jan. 30 --
This year’s star-studded NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by AOL will feature all of last year’s champions defending their crowns. Steve Nash
of the Phoenix Suns (PlayStation® Skills Challenge), Josh Smith
of the Atlanta Hawks (Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk), Quentin Richardson
of the New York Knicks (Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout) and Team Phoenix (RadioShack Shooting Stars) will each look to repeat. This is only the fifth time in NBA All-Star history that all of the prior year’s winners are defending their titles.
NBA All-Star Saturday Night will take place at the Toyota Center in Houston on Feb. 18, with TNT and ESPN Radio beginning their national coverage at 8 p.m. EST.
In 1985, Larry Nance of the Phoenix Suns defended his slam dunk title, but lost to Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks. In 1988, Michael Jordan repeated as the slam dunk champion and the Boston Celtics’ Larry Bird won the three-point competition for the third consecutive year.
The 1993 slam dunk competition saw the previous year’s winner, Cedric Ceballos of the Phoenix Suns, return to defend his crown, but lost to the Miami Heat’s Harold Miner. In 2002, the Seattle Sonics’ Desmond Mason returned to defend his slam dunk title, but was beaten by eventual back-to-back winner Jason Richardson of the Golden State Warriors. The three-point competition that year had a similar result with the defending champion, Ray Allen of the Milwaukee Bucks, losing to the Sacramento King’s Peja Stojakovic, who went on to win back-to-back three-point titles.
Last year, Nash set an all-time course record in the 2005 PlayStation® Skills Challenge, completing the course in 28.7 seconds during the final round and eclipsing the previous record of 31.6 seconds held by Baron Davis of the New Orleans Hornets. Smith will try to top his performance in the Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk competition last year when he paid homage to Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins by donning a throwback 'Nique jersey and completing Wilkins' signature windmill slam. Smith received three perfect scores and a total of 195 out of a possible 200 points.
Richardson finished strong in the 2005 Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout, connecting on his last nine shots to total 19 points in the final round to edge out the Philadelphia 76ers‘ Kyle Korver, who scored 18 points. Team Phoenix ran away with the RadioShack Shooting Stars title, completing the competition in just 28.0 seconds, 16.3 seconds ahead of second-place Denver.
The participants in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge will be announced on Wednesday, Feb. 1, and the starters for the 55th NBA All-Star game will be announced live on TNT on Thursday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. EST. The reserves will be announced on Thursday, Feb. 9, also live on TNT. Participants in the Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk contest will be announced on Tuesday, Feb. 1 and the remaining participants in the NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by AOL will be announced in early February.
The NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 19, will air live on TNT, Rogers Sportsnet and ESPN Radio at 8 p.m. EST. The game will also be telecast in 212 countries and broadcast in 12 languages on NBA.com.
NBA All-Star brings together the top NBA players and performers for a week of competition, community service and world-class entertainment. Among the many events that reach more than 3.1 billion people in over 200 countries are the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge; Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk; Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout; PlayStation Skills Challenge; RadioShack Shooting Stars; NBA All-Star Jam Session presented by Nokia, the league's interactive event that attracts more than 100,000 fans each year; and the 55th NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 19.