Monta Ellis Rookie Challenge Blog will be following Monta Ellis as he makes his way through Las Vegas for All-Star Weekend. Check back often for behind-the-scenes updates, news, recaps, photos and much more as Monta prepares to play in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam on Friday, February 16.


Friday, February 16, 9:00 p.m.

Rookie Challenge Recap

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David Lee won the MVP, but Monta Ellis stole the show. In the post game media mix zone, writers and tv cameras from around the world crowded around Ellis to get his thoughts on his highlight reel evening. Monta downplayed the effort in his usual modest fashion, saying mostly that he was simply blessed and proud to be playing in this Sophomore challenge less than two years after being drafted in the second round.

When asked by a reporter to predict how soon Monta would be playing in the “real” All-Star game, Ellis refused to make a prediction but did vow to work as hard this summer as he did last summer to make his game even better. When asked specifically what he would work on this summer, Ellis replied “Everything. Offense. Defense. Strength. I won’t slack on anything.”

In responose to being asked about his performance, including a number of highlight dunks, Monta replied, "It was just like playing with us, with Golden State. We had a lot of guys who can run up and down and pass the ball and shoot. Me and Chris [Paul] were talking about it before the game, and I said, 'No matter where you throw it up, I'll go get it."'

After completing his interviews, Ellis made the long walk back to the locker room. He’s staying in Vegas for the remainder of the weekend, but is looking forward to spend some time with his family and friends. After tonight’s effort, people will certainly recognize him for the rest of the weekend and beyond.


Friday, February 16, 7:40 p.m.

Monta For MVP

Fans can vote for tonight's MVP, and Monta is one of four candidates. Click here to vote for Monta.

Friday, February 16, 7:00 p.m.

More Excited About Monta's Dunks Or The Halftime Show?

Monta had 14 points and a few highlight dunks in the first half. ( photo)

If you haven’t heard six thousand elementary school kids scream at the top of their lungs than you haven’t been at the Rookie Challenge when they announced that R&B artist Ciara is in the building. Piercing. No other way to describe the sound.

Ciara was introduced during a timeout with 6:26 in the first half. That is also the point in the game when Monta Ellis saw his first action. He actually reported to the scorer’s table about three minutes earlier, but because of the lack of defense in this game there is hardly ever a stoppage in play.

Although he didn’t get any run until well after the midway point of the first half, Ellis finished with 14 points at intermission. The crowd lit-up when Ellis finished three straight alley-oop dunks.

The race for MVP is on. The old man with bifocals in the back was probably half way through etching David Lee’s name into the trophy, but Monta’s display may force a change of plans.

The halftime act is Quick Change. Solid. Even if you’ve seen it dozens of times, it is still entertaining. The kids here are lovin' it. By the way, the entire lower bowl is all local school children. All paying customers are upstairs. Pretty cool thing for the league to do.

They just passed out stats from the first half. Pretty crazy numbers.

Sophs shot 77.8% from the field. David Lee 9-of-9. Ellis 7-of-7. Chris Paul nearly has a double-double and he didn't score and only pulled one rebound...his line: 11 minutes, one rebound, zero points, 11 assists and seven steals.

The Sophs came out of the locker room about five minutes before the Rooks. The Rooks finally made it out with three minutes left in the halftime. Must have been having a closed door meeting to address chemistry issues.

Friday, February 16, 6:00 p.m.


Monta and the rest of the players got dressed and taped up together prior to the game. ( photo)

The Rookie and Sophomore teams arrived at Thomas & Mack Center around 4:00 p.m. – two hours prior to game time.

The players got dressed in the cramped locker rooms, taped their ankles and grabbed a pregame meal. The Sophomores are the home team tonight, wearing white uniforms and the Rookies will be in their dark kits. Each player brought his own shoes with him. Monta has a nice pair of specially-made And1 sneakers featuring the All-Star logo. Rookie Jordan Farmar had one yellow and one purple shoe with him on the bus, but it looks now like he has two yellow shoes. Good choice.

Both teams also took a team photo and a number of individual shots prior to the game. Monta Ellis joined fellow Soph guards Chris Paul, Derron Williams and Raymond Felton. The foursome was saying how much they hoped that the would be able to play on the court at the same time at some point during tonight’s contest.

Players from both teams also signed a number of special basketballs that would be auctioned off for charity.

The early buzz around the arena has the Sophomore squad as big favorites.

More to come…

Friday, February 16, 2:00 p.m.

Big Day For Young Warrior And Warrior Great

Monta was a popular target among media members on Friday. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty)

Monta Ellis and the Sophomore squad headed over to the Agassi Institute for a one-hour practice session in preparation for tonight's game. Prior to beginning practice, both the Sophomore and Rookie teams did a group media session on the floor.

Ellis was in high-demand from media members, with most wanting to get a sense of what Monta's feelings are having come from the 40th pick in the second round of the 2005 NBA Draft to now being one of the top players in his draft class. Monta told the reporters that he feels great being here and that he is thankful for everyone who has helped him get to this point.

While practice was going, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame held a press conference at the Palm's Casino. The event was to announce the 15 Finalists on this year's Hall of Fame ballot. Surrounded by former NBA greats including Bill Walton, Earl Monroe and Warriors legend Rick Barry, the announcement was made that Chris Mullin has been named a Finalist for the Hall of Fame. Mullin was in attendance at the event and spoke briefly about how thankful he was to even be considered for the Hall of Fame.

Mullin is one of 15 Finalists for the 2007 Hall of Fame Class. (Andy Hayt/NBAE/Getty)

In one-on-one interviews afterwards, a number of New York writers talked to Chris about his journey from the playgrounds of NYC to a possible spot in the Hall of Fame. Chris reflected on his time growing up in New York and how far he came, through St. John's, the Warriors, Indiana and two Olympic appearances.

In the VIP room set up off to the side of the stage, Mully mingled with the Hall of Famers that were in attendance. Watching him interact with that group, it's clear that he belongs and fits in with this group. Inductees for the Hall of Fame Class of 2007 will be announced during the upcoming NCAA Final Four.

Buses depart the Palm's to Thomas & Mack Center for the Rookie-Sophomore Game shortly after 3:00 p.m. It should be a fun game to watch, as the guard-heavy Sophomore squad has vowed to make this a high-scoring affair.

Thursday, February 15, 8:00 p.m.

One Crowded CIty

Anyone in Las Vegas is sure to know that the city is hosting NBA All-Star Weekend. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty)

There is plenty going on in Las Vegas this weekend. MAGIC, the international men's clothing trade show is just wrapping up. The city has a huge Chinese New Year celebration going on. The amount of people in this town right now is crazy. And this is just the beginning, because 2007 NBA All-Star Weekend has officially begun.

How do you know? If you're in Las Vegas you can't miss it.

Get off your plane and walk through the airport. Everywhere you look you see NBA players both current and former, coaches, trainers, executives and certainly fans.

Hop in a cab -- after waiting in line along with an endless stream of NBA jersey-wearing fans -- and drive to your hotel. You can't miss the 2007 NBA All-Star logo flying all over town. The gigantic posters that fill the sides of the Luxor hotel. The two famous lions in front of the MGM Grand adorned with East and West All-Star jerseys, respectively. Everything about this town right now screams NBA.

Monta arrived in Vegas on Thursday afternoon. ( photo)

Arrive at your hotel only to see more NBA types...and even more NBA fans. Fans lined up to see their favorite player. To get a photo with a star. And just to have the chance to call their buddy back home and say "Guess who I just saw?" That conversation alone is going to waste many cell phone batteries tonight.

Warriors guard Monta Ellis, representing the team in Friday night's Rookie Challenge, arrived at the Palm's hotel mid-afternoon with several friends and family members along to share his experience with him.

The Palm's is officially the "players hotel" for the NBA All-Star Weekend, but every hotel has got into the act. Walk through the Bellagio and you are likely to see just as many high-profile NBA figures as you would at the Palm's (and an amazing Chinese New Year display I might add). Same for the MGM Grand. Same for Mandalay Bay. Same everywhere. It's as if someone took a huge can of paint filled with NBA All-Star logos and dumped it over the top of Las Vegas.

Monta made good use of the props at the photo booth station. ( photo)

After getting checked-in, Monta headed to the 3rd Floor of the Palm's, which has been taken over for the weekend by NBA Entertainment. Each room on the floor is being used by a different arm of NBA Entertainment, including NBA TV, NBA Photos and Monta spent almost an hour going through "the circuit" that every player participating in an event this weekend must go through. Between interviews with NBA TV and photo shoots with NBA Photos, Monta shared greetings with several fellow participants, including Nate Robinson, David Lee and Jason Kapono.

One of the stations that Monta was run through was an old-fashioned photo booth that you might find at the county fair or shopping mall. You know, go inside the booth, stare at the window and wait for it to take four pictures of you. Monta wasn't quite sure what to make of the photo booth at first, but once he was handed some NBA/Las Vegas-style props, he was good to go. Everywhere he went on the 3rd Floor, various players were coming over and "complementing" Monta on his work in the photo booth. He may be mature and composed while on the court, but the photo shoot showed that there is a lot of kid left in the 21-year-old Ellis.

The rookies and sophomores were put through a special media circuit on Thursday. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty)

From the media circuit, Monta was off to a mandatory players meeting that must be attended by every NBA player involved in an event this weekend. At the meeting, the league will make sure the guys are set on their schedules over the next couple days.

After the meeting, the work is pretty much done for tonight. The lights in Vegas are just beginning to shine in the darkness and the NBA is once again going to take over the night just as it did the day. The amount of NBA events going on each night is staggering. The biggest names in sports and entertainment have descended on Las Vegas for NBA All-Star 2007 and, from all early indications, it is going to be quite a show.

Monta and the Sophomore team board a bus at 10:00 a.m. in the morning for team practice. There is also a press conference going on at the Palm's at 11:30 a.m. on Friday that very well may have some Warriors connections. Check back with tomorrow for the latest scoop.

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