It's been a while since I've said this, but I'm actually looking forward to the NBA's All-Star weekend.
I'm always a sucker for the actual All-Star Game itself on Sunday, but this season Friday and Saturday are shaping up to be relatively compelling, too. The Slam Dunk Contest actually has three All-Stars participating for the first time in 26 years, which addresses one of my primary All-Star weekend complaints -- watching guys like Jamario Moon and Gerald Green duke it out in the dunk contest.
Indiana forward Paul George, Washington point guard John Wall and Portland point guard Damian Lillard will all compete with defending dunk champ Terrence Ross of Toronto, Harrison Barnes of Golden State and rookie Ben McLemore of Sacramento.
Lillard is actually the iron man of the All-Star weekend.
Lillard will take part in the Rising Stars Challenge game on Friday night, three different Saturday events (dunk contest, three point shooting contest, skills challenge), and then will participate in the actual All-Star game Sunday night as a reserve for the Western Conference All-Star team. It should be a good opportunity for fans outside of Portland to get to know one of the driving forces behind one of the two biggest pleasant surprises (Phoenix being the other) in the NBA this season.
While the All-Star weekend itself is still a week away, the festivities began percolating Thursday night as Chris Webber and Grant Hill, general managers for the Rising Star Challenge, selected their respective squads for the game on TNT's Thursday night broadcast.
The rosters themselves wound up as follows:
In addition to Davis, TEAM WEBBER is comprised Kelly Olynyk (Boston), Jared Sullinger (Boston), Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn), Tim Hardaway Jr. (New York), Steven Adams (Oklahoma City), Victor Oladipo (Orlando), Michael Carter-Williams (Philadelphia), and Trey Burke (Utah).
Joining Lillard on TEAM HILL are Pero Antic (Atlanta), Dion Waiters (Cleveland Cavaliers), Harrison Barnes (Golden State), Terrence Jones (Houston), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee), Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto) and Bradley Beal (Washington).
Now, any actual analysis over which general manager got the best of the draft process took a backseat to Charles Barkley's attempt to pronounce Toronto's Jonas Valanciunas's last name, which is a very difficult thing for the average proper enunciator to handle, let alone a dude from Leeds, Alabama, who can't pronounce the word "terrible."
Here is the video footage of Valanciunas's unintentionally trolling Barkley's brain with his last name:
So just so we have this straight...
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"Valanciunas" actual pronunciation: VAL-an-see-you-nus
"Valanciunas" Barkley pronunciation: VAH-soo-ee-noo-wah-sauce