Though there are certainly some NBA fans that don’t care for the Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star Weekend, but I’m not one of them. Personally, it’s somewhat fascinating to me to see which young players have the ability to put on a show and entertain fans early in their careers in addition to being a player with a lot of potential.
The 2014 Rising Stars Challenge was enjoyable despite this somewhat disappointing rookie class. Sophomore Andre Drummond ended up winning MVP honors for the game after notching 30 points and a challenge record 25 rebounds on the night. However, it wasn’t Drummond that stole the show.
Arguably the most entertaining moment of the night was between second-year guard Dion Waiters and rookie guard Tim Hardaway Jr. In the second half, the two youngsters just started pulling up in each the face of one another and chucking up long-range shots that were finding the bottom of the net. Their individual battle culminated when Waiters broke Hardaway Jr.’s ankles, waited for him to get up, and then buried the triple.
The Rising Stars Challenge an All-Star type contest with players who aren’t necessarily All-Stars competing, which makes it somewhat less attractive to fans; I get that. However, you can’t deny the excitement of seeing young guys rise to the moment and get into an offensive showdown like that. It doesn’t matter if their all-time greats or young players on the rise; that’s entertaining.
While Saturday’s festivities like the dunk contest and three-point contest are sure to draw more viewers and bigger fan-reactions, Hardaway Jr. and Waiters reminded us why there’s still some merit to the Rising Stars Challenge and why it can be entertaining in its own right.