Heading into the break, this All-Star game will be a proving ground for MVP candidate Derrick Rose.
Coming off his first selection to the game last season, Derrick Rose has improved every aspect of his game. It’s almost hard to remember that he came into this league as an unselfish pass-first point guard. Now in his third year, and leading the Bulls to the 3rd best record in the East, the All-Star game will be a measuring stick of young Rose’s talents in the national scene, after many of the league’s top players skipped last summers World Championships due to injuries or greener pastures with the blockbuster free agent season.
Rounding out the backcourt, native Chicagoan Dwyane Wade will be there to prove himself, as well as reigning two-time MVP LeBron James. The Miami duo off the starting line-up might be Rose’s only challenge, as both Heat players will demand time bring the ball into play. Fellow Adidas spokesman Dwight Howard, who is also in the running for MVP, and New York’s prize signing Amare Stoudemire cap off the fan-voted starters. All 5 starters will be looking to make MVP statements at the Staples Center.
Rose will go up against the west’s backcourt of Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant. Paul, who is playing among the leagues most efficient this season, already fell short to Rose this season, a recent loss that he is likely to remember. Kobe has also been playing with injuries to his hand for a large portion of the season, and his participation may be limited to give him healing time. Although, Kobe, a past ASG MVP, knows the prestige of this weekend, and how valuable the game will be, playing on his home-court.
Another event to catch this weekend to cheer on Bulls players will be the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge on Friday. Taj Gibson will be returning to the game this season, as a potential starter for the Sophomores. Serge Ibaka is the only big man coming off the bench, so expect Taj to get big minutes in this exhibition tradition. Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire will be the active-player coaches, so be ready for a lot of talk about these two being potential teammates in the near future.
Rose will also participate in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Saturday. The 2009 winner missed last season’s Skills Challenge to rest an ailing wrist, so he could be ready for the main event. Rose, who has been nursing a few stomach ulcers, might pass on the Taco Bell hot-sauce, but is expected to be a favorite headed into competition.
Derrick Rose is also bringing along 20-some of his family members to Los Angeles. Will his relatives witness Derrick win this years All-Star Game Most Valuable Player? Tune in on Sunday at 6PM CST to watch the game on TNT to find out. Go to nba.com/allstar2011 for the complete weekend schedule.