(Erica Martin/Los Angeles Lakers)

Lakers History in the Skills Challenge

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

Though no Laker has ever won the All-Star Skills Challenge, Los Angeles has a strong history of competing in the contest.

Five-time champion teammates Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant each reached the final round of the competition, though Jordan Clarkson exited in the first round.

Each has also enjoyed success outside of All-Star Weekend, while Clarkson aims to someday reach the kind of postseason success as the duo before him.

Derek Fisher (2004)
On a team that featured future four Hall of Famers — Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Karl Malone and Gary Payton — Fisher was the one chosen to put his talents on display for the host team at All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.

After completing the first round of the obstacle course in 31.6 seconds, Fisher eliminated Earl Boykins (34.9) and Stephon Marbury (36.4) to set up a championship matchup with Baron Davis (28.7).

However, Fisher struggled with the mid-range shooting portion the second time around, clocking it at 37.6 seconds on the same course. Meanwhile, Davis matched Fisher’s first-round time of 31.6 to capture the Skills Challenge in his hometown of L.A.

Kobe Bryant (2007)
In the most talented field of the competition’s history, Bryant clashed against three of his fellow future Hall of Famers: LeBron James, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade.

Despite fumbling the first ball off the rack during the course’s dribbling portion, Bryant blazed through the first round with the top time of 29.8. Wade (31.3) — the defending champion — came in second to eliminate James (35.4) and Paul (39.6), arranging a championship tilt with Bryant.

However, the final round couldn’t have gone much worse for Bryant, who needed four tries just to get by the first passing portion. Knowing that he wasn’t going to beat Wade’s near-record mark of 26.4 seconds, the reigning scoring champion shot a 3-pointer instead of a layup on the final obstacle, thus inflating his time to 45.8 seconds before officially ending it on a finger roll.

Still, Bryant would hit the jackpot in Las Vegas the very next day at the All-Star game itself. He dropped 31 points with six assists and six steals to earn MVP honors for the third time in his career.

Bryant, Wade, James and Paul would join forces just one year later by powering the United State national team to a perfect record and gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Jordan Clarkson (2016)
Nine years came and went before the Lakers had another representative at the Skills Challenge, but Clarkson's night was finished quickly in Toronto.

The competition moved to a head-to-head bracket format that season, and the sophomore went up against C.J. McCollum in the first round. The Portland guard edged Clarkson in the layup portion of the obstacle course, which gave him just enough cushion to eliminate the Laker.

Nonetheless, Clarkson's weekend was a successful one, as he scored 25 points to help push the USA Team to victory in the Rising Stars Challenge the night before.

Kyle Kuzma (2019)
With the Lakers still looking for their first Skills Challenge champion, Kuzma will be the fourth one to give it a shot in Charlotte. Kuzma currently ranks third among sophomores in both scoring and 3-pointers, and will look to flash these talents among others in the obstacle course that tests "dribbling, passing, agility and 3-point shooting."

Fresh off his Rising Stars MVP performance, Kuzma will compete in a bracket-style, head-to-head field that also includes: Mike Conley, Luka Doncic, De'Aaron Fox, Nikola Jokic, Jayson Tatum, Nikola Vucevic and Trae Young.

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