As previously mentioned, the San Antonio Spurs are completely inactive in this year’s All-Star Weekend festivities, perhaps a much needed respite from the toll the season has taken thus far.
So for All-Star Weekend, we at Pounding the Rock will be looking back at the Spurs participation in the events that are taking place.
Tonight is the annual Rising Stars, which now takes place between Team U.S.A. and Team World.
Rising Stars originally started in 1994 under the title Rookie Challenge which pitted first year players against each other through random selection. In 1996, the format established sides as rookies faced off between the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference.
As a result of the 1999 lockout, from the turn of the century until 2011, the game featured a rookie team vs. a sophomore team. In 2002, Tony Parker played for the Rookies and returned in 2003 with the Sophomores. In 2004, Manu Ginobili suited up for the Sophomores. 2005 saw Beno Udrih join the Rookies. And in 2010, DeJuan Blair played for the Rookies where he was crowned MVP of the Rookie Challenge. In 2011, Gary Neal played for the Rookies under Mike Budenholzer who served as their head coach.
Between 2012 and 2014, the format consisted of two Hall of Fame players drafting the teams, originally between Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley, and later by Chris Webber and Grant Hill. In 2013, Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer served as head coach of “Team Chuck” with Kawhi Leonard on his sideline. The previous year Tiago Splitter was drafted by “Team Chuck” but was replaced by Derrick Favors due to injury.
In 2015, the most recent Team U.S.A. vs. Team World format was adopted. The teams are first- and second-year players selected by the NBA’s assistant coaches. In 2016, Ettore Messina served as the head coach for Team World. The only Spurs player to participate in this current format was Jonathon Simmons who joined Team U.S.A. in 2017.
Tonight’s festivities start 8:00 p.m. CST on TNT.
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