HOUSTON - The NBA’s upcoming All-Star weekend is going to possess a decidedly Houston flavor. Not only will Clutch City be hosting the event; its players are going to be prominently involved as well.
That much was made clear Thursday evening when the league announced the participants for All-Star Friday and Saturday night. The extravaganza begins with the 2013 Sprint NBA ALL-STAR Celebrity Game featuring squads that will be coached by former teammates James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
Then the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge takes center stage later that evening, allowing Rockets forward Chandler Parsons a chance to shine for Team Shaq. Parsons was O’Neal’s sixth selection during the draft that took place Thursday night on TNT. The second-year player joins a stacked squad that includes last year’s Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving, and this season’s frontrunner for the award, Damian Lillard.
The festivities continue during State Farm Saturday Night with the Sears Shooting Stars competition featuring two teams representing each of the NBA’s two conferences. Representing the Western Conference are James Harden, who earned his first career All-Star Game nod in his inaugural season with the Houston Rockets, and fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The WNBA stars for the West are Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx, a 2012 Olympic gold medal winner and 2011 WNBA champion, and the Seattle Storm’s Tina Thompson, the WNBA all-time leading scorer. NBA Legends Sam Cassell and Robert Horry, who played a combined 31 seasons in the league and won 10 NBA championships, round out the West representation. Cassell and Horry were teammates on a Rockets team that won back-to-back titles in 1994-95.
On behalf of the Eastern Conference from the NBA are Chris Bosh, an All-Star and key member of the reigning NBA champion Miami Heat, and All-Star Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets, who earned his first All-Star nod. The WNBA Eastern Conference stars are Swin Cash of the Chicago Sky, a three-time WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, and Tamika Catchings, who guided the Indiana Fever to the 2012 WNBA title and earned Finals MVP honors along the way. The NBA Legends on the East squads are Muggsy Bogues, the shortest player in NBA history at 5-3, who enjoyed a 14-year NBA career, and Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins, a nine-time NBA All-Star, who finished with 26,668 career points.
Then the Rockets representation continues with the start of the Taco Bell Skills Challenge that will feature Houston’s Jeremy Lin against a field that includes defending champion Tony Parker, Jeff Teague, Jrue Holiday, Damian Lillard and Brandon Knight.
“It's definitely a tremendous opportunity and a chance to go out there and have some fun,” said Lin upon learning of his inclusion. “(To represent Houston) is awesome. To come here my first year and have the league’s biggest event here, with everyone in town and to play host, it’s a tremendous opportunity. Some players never, ever have that opportunity in their entire career. I just want to go out there and enjoy the entire experience.”