In a few short hours, the United Center will become the heart of the basketball universe as hoop fans around the globe witness the thrills of the NBA’s All-Star Saturday Night, airing on TNT at 7 p.m. Chicago time.
In addition to bragging rights for the winner, all participants will most likely earn an incredible quantity of highlight footage. Clips of Michael Jordan’s performance at the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest remain the stuff of legend 30 years after he defeated Atlanta Hawk Dominque Wilkins in the “most famous battle in NBA Slam Dunk Contest history.”
Among the fans energizing tonight’s competition is President Barack Obama, who made a surprise appearance at the United Center last night.
Among the pros kicking up the buzz are a pair of hometown favorites. Chicago Bull Zach LaVine will compete in the Mountain Dew 3-Point Challenge, and LA Clipper Patrick Beverley, who was born in the Windy City and attended high school at John Marshall, will compete in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge.
Sadly, Detroit Piston Derrick Rose, a Windy City hero who attended Simeon Career Academy, dropped out of the competition due to an “injury-related” issue, according to ESPN’s Eric Woodyard.
NBA ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT
TACO BELL SKILLS CHALLENGE
Defending champion Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics will be joined by former champions Patrick Beverley of the LA Clippers and Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets in displaying their vast array of talents. Tatum and Dinwiddie won the Taco Bell® Skills Challenge in 2019 and 2018, respectively. Beverley, a Chicago native, was crowned champion in 2015.
Bam Adebayo, Miami | Patrick Beverley, LA | Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City | Khris Middleton, Milwaukee
Domantas Sabonis, Indiana | Pascal Siakam, Toronto | Jayson Tatum, Boston
MOUNTAIN DEW 3-POINT CHALLENGE
Defending champion Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets and NBA All-Stars Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks will be among eight participants in the two-round, timed shooting competition.
Davis Bertans, Washington | Devin Booker, Phoenix
Devonte’ Graham, Charlotte | Joe Harris, Brooklyn
Buddy Hield, Sacramento | Zach LaVine, Chicago
Duncan Robinson, Miami | Trae Young, Atlanta
AT&T SLAM DUNK
Former Slam Dunk champion Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers returns to the competition for the first time in 11 years as he headlines the field of four players who will take flight in the AT&T Slam Dunk. Howard is joined by two previous second-place finishers, Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic and Derrick Jones Jr. of the Miami Heat, as well as first-time participant Pat Connaughton of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Pat Connaughton, Milwaukee | Aaron Gordon, Orlando
Dwight Howard, Los Angeles | Derrick Jones Jr., Miami