Saturday , Feb , 19 , 2011 Christopher Sells

2011 Rookie Challenge Recap

So you missed the Rookie Game tonight? No worries, it wasn’t exactly Must See TV, but there were a few things that you should take note of. You also might tune into NBATV, since they’re pretty good about putting up reruns of the weekend’s events the night they take place. What follows are a few bullets of interesting information, not the sort of detail you’ll get from us with the other events. But like we said, in case you missed it…

– I love the Rookie Challenge, but it’s the All-Star Game’s less attractive, underaged little sister. On the surface it looks the same, but the quality is not as good and it’s not something you’ll talk to your friends about the next day. Which doesn’t make it unwatchable, but the turnovers and the completely unimpeded drives to the basket aren’t top shelf entertainment. 

– Blake Griffin should be commended for coming out for the fans. The NBA will be taking complete advantage of his popularity each night this weekend, so one would understand if he chose to sit out the Challenge. Instead, he gave the kids just under 15 minutes of action and about a half dozen dunks. None were truly spectacular, probably since he’s saving the good stuff for the Dunk Contest tomorrow. Still, he gave us this gem, the best part of which is absolutely the bounce pass from John Wall.

– Speaking of Wall, he was the game’s MVP with 12 points and 22 assists. Yes, 22. Even with no defense, it’s not easy to pull that off. Something else that’s not easy to pull off is this off-the-backboard oop he catches from former college teammate DeMarcus Cousins. 

– There were some hideous socks being worn in this game, presumably to market them to impressionable youngsters who probably tried to hit up the league’s store as soon as the saw them. How bad were they? Craig Sager was considering how well they’d go with his outfit. Yuck. The socks can be seen in pretty good detail here

– My favorite moment of the night involved the aforementioned Sager interviewing DeJuan Blair at the end of the first half. Blair had put in the below dunk, which was easily the moment of the night up to that point. Sager: "How overrated are ACLs?" Blair: "I don’t know, I don’t have them." For the uninformed, Blair has no ACL in either of his knees which caused him to be drafted much lower than he should have. The story is pretty played out to this point and Blair is probably sick of being asked about it. Especially because he can still do this:

– James Harden gave us two great highlights, which isn’t really surprising since he clowned JJ Hickson earlier this year. If Serge Ibaka’s performance in the Dunk Contest even comes close to Harden’s quality, I’ll be pleased. For the record, I’m expecting disappointment. 

– When the talk wasn’t on the game, it was on Carmelo Anthony and his possible impending trade to the East Coast. Melo says he knows nothing and isn’t meeting with the Knicks or the Nets, but rumors this detailed don’t surface without some truth being involved. We already know that the guy is orchestrating his way out of Denver, I think we’d all respect him more if he were upfront about the whole thing. All this feigned ignorance reminds me of other small forwards who want us to believe their innocence amidst stupidity.

– Chris Webber is genuinely excited to be in LA for the game and is better at commentary than he gets credit for. Ditto Kevin McHale. Not so much, Steve Kerr. 

– Not that anyone cares much, but the Rookies won in a semi-close one, 148-140. I’d list the pertinent stats, but it was a glorified pick up game. Some people scored, Wall passed a lot, no one played defense and even I got a dunk or two in. OK, not really. But it felt like I did.