Despite not playing in the Rising Stars game, Wendell Carter Jr. got a warm ovation from the Chicago crowd before the U.S. Rising Stars team defeated the World team.
Wendell Carter Jr. is a winner. Well, he's always believed that. And he was again Friday without even breaking a sweat as his U.S. Rising Stars team defeated the World team, 151-131 in the All-Star Rising Stars game.
Carter wasn't able to play because of a sprained ankle suffered last month. But he received a nice response from the United Center audience during introductions and then watched the lob dunk fest in which the Pelicans' Zion Williamson apparently bent the rim on one windup power dunk, seemed to break the score clock on another and with the deft passing from Trae Young and Ja Morant finished several of the estimated 75 or so lobs in the game that turned for the US in the third quarter with the play of U.S. MVP Miles Bridges.
"I thought the game was pretty fast paced," Carter said as he was leaving the United Center. "I'm happy we got the win. My favorite part was Miles Bridges doing the throw-it-off the backboard dunk (in what eventually became something of a dunk contest audition late in the game). That was something special."
Despite not playing in the Rising Stars game, Wendell Carter Jr. got a warm ovation from the Chicago crowd.
About Zion and the backboard?
"He sure did," said Carter "That was crazy."
That also describes this game that defines exhibition.
It's a matchup of the top rookies and sophomores with U.S. players matched against internationals given the impressive presence of international players in the NBA. R.J. Barrett led the world team with 27 points. Brandon Clarke had 22 and Luka Doncic scored 16 and had the big shot with a 50 footer just before halftime.
"Cool," agreed Carter.
It resembled a game in the third quarter when the U.S. team turned a 10-point halftime deficit of 81-71 into a 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter at 115-105. Bridges had 13 third quarter points among his 20 and three of four three pointers as the U.S. took control in the sort of a game. Golden State's Eric Paschall led the U.S. team with 23 points and Collin Sexton had 21.
"The world team, they were killing us," said Bridges. "We were like, ‘Let's play for real.'"
In the spirit of the game, Bridges also tweeted that at halftime.
"Just wanted to have some fun," said the Charlotte Hornets' forward.
Bridges paid tribute to his owner, Michael Jordan, noting, "MJ putting Chicago on the map, it definitely (was motivation)."
Bridges also saluted "Chicago basketball."
Miles Bridges of the Charlotte Hornets had a spectacular dunk off the backboard for the USA squad.
"I would say tough, gritty, play great defense," Bridges said when asked about what Chicago basketball means to him. "I grew up watching the Derrick Rose era. Joakim Noah and all those guys. They hustled for everything they had. Even now when we play Chicago, they're a good defensive team and that's what I think of when I think of Chicago basketball."
Former president Barack Obama met with the Rising Stars players earlier in the day—"the highlight of my day," said Young—and Young, Memphis' Morant and Williamson clearly were the fan choices. Williamson said his favorite play was when Morant threw him a half court lob pass for a dunk. Morant also found Williamson for a lob on a look away Magic Johnson-type pass. They seem destined to someday make those plays in the Sunday game.
They also showcased a bit of Saturday as late in the apparent contest the players sort of stopped and allowed Williamson and Morant to attempt dunk contest-type dunks without any resistance. The fans encouraged it, and it's not like it mattered who won. Though they both missed.
Zion Williamson finished the Rising Stars exhibition with 14 points.
But Williamson didn't miss about how he learned the game.
"It was my mom that led me to watching Michael Jordan," said Williamson, the replacement for Carter. "I asked her when I first started playing basketball who should I watch? She told me Jordan, Bird and Magic. I think I started with Magic. I was like, ‘Man, he can pass the ball.' Bird, he can shoot, he's an all-around player. But when I got to Jordan she told me to watch full games, not highlights. I watched full games and as a kid the stuff he was doing, it was incredible to watch, getting a steal, saving it and then doing a backwards layup or floating through the lane, like through three people, dunking it. So as a kid that really caught my attention and from then I just watched every full game Michael Jordan clip I could find."
Talk about someone who can Air it out.
Earlier Friday, former Bull Artis Gilmore joined fellow Hall of Famers George Gervin, Alex English, Gary Payton, Wayne Embry, Spencer Haywood, Dominque Wilkens, Sheryl Swoops, Charlie Scott and Jerry Colangelo for the somewhat anticlimactic announcement of the finalists for Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement in August. The enshrines will be disclosed at the NCAA Final Four in April.
Kobe Bryant, who recently died in a helicopter crash, became eligible for induction this year along with Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. They are certain first-ballot entrants.
The other finalists are coaches Eddie Sutton and Rudy Tomjanovich, WNBA player Tamika Catchings and women's coaches Kim Mulkey and Barbara Stevens.
Gilmore was a four-time All-Star with the Bulls after joining the team in 1976 following the merger of the NBA and ABA.
Gilmore made 11 All-Star teams overall, also five in the ABA in his five seasons with the Kentucky Colonels and two with the San Antonio Spurs after being traded for DePaul's Dave Corzine and Olberding. Which explained a lot of the likable Corzine's often inexplicable unpopularity with fans.
Gilmore was part of one of the more memorable, if ultimately unsatisfying Bulls seasons, the 1976-77 late season run of 20-4 to crash the playoffs and almost upset the future champion Portland Trailblazers. It took a deciding overtime game in Portland to knock out the Bulls. The Bulls had one more run with the Gilmore guys, the 1981 conference semifinals under coach Jerry Sloan in 1981. Gilmore was traded to the Spurs following the 1981-82 season after averaging 18.5 points and 10.2 rebounds for a 34-win team. The Bulls failed to reach 30 wins the next two seasons until drafting Michael Jordan in 1984.
Gilmore scored in double figures in his five ABA All-Star games and when he represented the Bulls in 1981. But Gilmore said his greatest memory was of the 1983 game in Los Angeles when he scored five points in a West loss with three 76ers starting.
Artis Gilmore was a four-time All-Star with the Chicago Bulls.
"I remember the one in Los Angeles," Gilmore said after the Friday Hall of Fame press conference. "It was the most impressive because of Marvin Gaye and the way he sung the national anthem. It was memorable and meant something to us."
The often personally tortured Motown superstar who died in 1984 when fatally shot by his father had been on a personal exile in Europe. He returned triumphant to the U.S. on the way to a Grammy award when the NBA asked him to sing the national anthem. Gaye turned it in to a classic soulful rendition which spoke to the players' hearts and about their lives and nurturing. Players have talked about that version for years with many, who listen to the national anthem every day at work, still saying it's the best one they've ever heard.
Chicago native Jennifer Hudson will perform a special tribute to Kobe Bryant and the people who died in his helicopter tragedy Sunday before the player introductions for the All-Star game. Chicagoan Chaka Kahn will perform the national anthem.
The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame also announced awards for its enshrinement in August. Broadcaster Mike Breen and writer Mike Wilbon will receive the Curt Gowdy media awards. There were additional media awards for Jim Gray and the TNT show with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal. Timothy Nugent is the recipient of the John Bunn award.