NBA fans voted Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook to be one of four players to compete in the Skills Challenge on Saturday as part of All-Star Weekend at Staples Center.
Also chosen by fans in the first-ever online voting were Chicago's Derrick Rose, Golden State's Stephen Curry and Washington rookie John Wall. They will compete against New Orleans point guard Chris Paul, who is the event spokesman.
Other candidates were Baron Davis of the Los Angeles Clippers, Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings, Derek Fisher of the LA Lakers and Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs.
The Skills Challenge was introduced at the 2003 NBA All-Star Weekend in Atlanta and features players competing in a two-round timed obstacle course that has dribbling, passing and shooting stations. All players must observe basic NBA ball-handling rules while completing the course. The two players with the fastest times from the first round advance to the finals.
Last year in Dallas, Steve Nash of Phoenix finished with a winning time of 29.9 seconds, joining Miami's Dwyane Wade (2006 and 2007) as the only other two-time winner in challenge history.
The Skills Challenge will be televised live nationally as part of the NBA All-Star Saturday Night, which also features the Shooting Stars, the 3-point contest and the dunk competition.
Thunder small forward Kevin Durant will be in the 3-point contest and will coach teammate Serge Ibaka in the dunk contest.
HARDEN JOINS SOPHOMORES
Thunder guard James Harden has been named as a replacement for Friday night's Rookie Challenge at NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.
Harden will join the sophomore squad in place of Sacramento point guard Tyreke Evans, who has battled plantar fasciitis this season.
Harden becomes the fourth OKC player to participate in All-Star festivities. All of them are 22 years old or younger.
The NBA.com website conducted various polls concerning All-Star Weekend. Here are the questions and the results as of Thursday night:
Who will be MVP of the All-Star Game? LeBron James (30 percent); Kobe Bryant (26 percent); Other (25 percent); Durant (19 percent).
Who will win the dunk contest? Blake Griffin (77 percent); DeMar DeRozan (16 percent); JaVale McGee (6 percent); Ibaka (4 percent).
Who will win the 3-point contest? Ray Allen (77 percent); Other (11 percent); Dorell Wright (8 percent); Paul Pierce (4 percent).
RIGHT ON 'Q'
In an article entitled "Oklahoma City's Thrilling 'Thunder U,' " the Thunder is prominently featured in the March issue of GQ, which hits newsstands nationally on Tuesday.
"I think that Serge's one chance is on his last dunk. (Personal dunk coach) Kevin Durant takes off his jersey — he has a Superman jersey underneath it — and he dunks it. I will vote for that." — TNT analyst Kevin McHale of Ibaka winning the dunk contest.