Bulls' Rose needs votes for Skills Challenge bid

Introduced at NBA All-Star 2003 in Atlanta, the Skills Challenge will feature five players competing in a two-round timed “obstacle course” consisting of dribbling, passing, and shooting stations

During 2009 All-Star weekend Phoenix, Rose finished his winning time of 35.3 seconds with an emphatic double-pump reverse dunk, as he became the first rookie to win the Taco Bell Skills Challenge.
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, Jan. 27, 2011 – For the first time, the NBA and Taco Bell are giving fans the opportunity to determine participants in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge as part of the “Choose Your Squad” program. In addition to adding a fan vote, the 2011 Taco Bell Skills Challenge will feature an expanded field from four to five participants.

Beginning today and running through 11:59 p.m. ET on Feb. 14, fans can log on to NBA.com/chooseyoursquad to choose from among eight players to determine four of the five participants in the 2011 event in Los Angeles. The players taking part in the “Choose Your Squad” vote include:

  • Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
  • Baron Davis, Los Angeles Clippers
  • Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
  • Derek Fisher, Los Angeles Lakers
  • Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
  • Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls (2009 Champion)
  • John Wall, Washington Wizards
  • Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

The four finalists will compete against “Choose Your Squad” spokesman Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets. A three-time NBA All-Star and Taco Bell Skills Challenge (2006 to 2008) participant, Paul will chronicle his preparations on the program microsite NBA.com/chooseyoursquad. The site will also feature highlights of each of the eight players eligible in the fan vote.

This year’s event will include a new charitable element from NBA Cares and Taco Bell Foundation for Teens’ “Graduate to Go” program, a national initiative to help teens graduate from high school through real-world experiences. Each of the five participants will be matched with a teen member of a local Boys & Girls Club. The teen paired with the event winner will receive a four-year college scholarship, while the other scholarship winners will each receive an educational scholarship, all courtesy of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens.

“The “Choose Your Squad” program is another example of how we are constantly looking for ways to empower our fans and provide them with ways to play a part in our NBA All-Star events,” said Mark Tatum, NBA Executive Vice President, Global Marketing Partnerships. “Taco Bell is always looking to create unique experiences for its customers, and these exciting changes to the Taco Bell Skills Challenge will not only bring fans closer to the event but also leave a lasting impact on the lives of others.”

“I’m looking forward to taking the court in Los Angeles and seeing who the fans choose to compete in the 2011 Taco Bell Skills Challenge,” said Paul. “All of these players are great competitors, and I’ll be working hard to prepare, knowing that the outcome will help some very deserving teens pursue their educational dreams."

Introduced at NBA All-Star 2003 in Atlanta – the Taco Bell® Skills Challenge will feature 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.

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 Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, Haier Shooting Stars, 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.