Bulls' Rose selected as 2011 Skills Challenge participant
Chicago's Derrick Rose will also start in the 60th NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 20, set to air live on TNT and ESPN Radio, and in more than 200 countries in more than 40 languages. (Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, Feb. 17, 2011 – Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, John Wall of the Washington Wizards and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder were selected by fans to compete against Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets in the 2011 Taco Bell® Skills Challenge on Feb. 19, at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
For the first time, the NBA and Taco Bell gave fans the opportunity to determine participants in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge as part of the “Choose Your Squad” program. From Jan. 27 through Feb. 15, fans could choose their squad of four players out of eight candidates online at NBA.com/chooseyoursquad. Along with the four players chosen to compete, fans also had the opportunity to vote for Baron Davis of the Los Angeles Clippers, Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings, Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers and Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs.
Rose, who was voted to start for the Eastern Conference in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game, is the only player in the league to rank in the top 10 in both scoring (8th, 24.5 ppg) and assists (9th, 8.2 apg). Curry, who leads the NBA in free throw shooting percentage (.941), has followed up a solid rookie campaign by pacing the Warriors in assists with 6.0 apg while also contributing 18.4 ppg; Curry also is participating in the 2011 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam. Wall, the overall top selection in the 2010 NBA Draft, ranks seventh overall in assists (8.9 ppg) and is second among rookies in scoring (15.0 ppg); Wall also is participating in the 2011 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam. A first-time All-Star, Westbrook is the only player in the NBA averaging at least 22.0 points, 8.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds. A four-time All-Star, who was voted to start for the Western Conference in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game, Paul paces the league in steals (2.47 spg) while ranking fourth in assists (9.6 apg). Paul is the only player with at least 7,500 points, 3,900 assists and 950 steals through 400 games.
This year’s event includes a new charitable element in partnership with NBA Cares and Boys & Girls Clubs of America that will support the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens’ “Graduate To Go” initiative, a national initiative to help teens graduate from high school through real-world experiences. Each of the five participants will be paired with a teen member of Boys & Girls Club of Southern California. The teen paired with the event winner will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, while the other students will each receive an educational scholarship, all courtesy of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens. Each Graduate to Go scholar was carefully selected from applications received through the Boys & Girls Clubs in the Southern California area, based on their outstanding leadership qualities and inspiration to their peers both in and out of school.
“Congratulations to the players and the Graduate to Go teens taking part in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Saturday. We are honored to partner with NBA Cares to give these deserving Boys & Girls Club teens this opportunity of a lifetime,” said Greg Creed, President of Taco Bell and Chairman of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens. “Experiences like this have the power to inspire teens to stay committed to their high school degree and dream big.”
The Taco Bell Skills Challenge was introduced at NBA All-Star 2003 in Atlanta and features five players competing in a two-round timed “obstacle course” consisting of dribbling, passing and shooting stations. All players must observe basic NBA ball-handling rules while completing the course. The two players with the fastest times from the first round advance to the finals with the order of competition determined by inverse order of the first round times. At the discretion of the referee, television instant replay may be consulted for clarification of rules compliance.
In addition to adding a fan vote and the new charitable element, this year’s Taco Bell® Skills Challenge will feature an expanded field from four to five participants.
Last year in Dallas, Steve Nash finished with a winning time of 29.9 seconds, joining the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade (2006 and 2007) as the only other two-time winner in Taco Bell Skills Challenge history.
The Taco Bell Skills Challenge will be televised live nationally as part of the NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by State Farm, which will also feature the Haier Shooting Stars, Foot Locker Three-Point Contest and Sprite Slam Dunk. TNT and ESPN Radio’s national coverage will begin at 8 p.m. EST from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. The 60th NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 20, will air live on TNT and ESPN Radio, and in more than 200 countries in more than 40 languages.