By: Rahat Huq
I get press releases sent from the Rockets sent to my Red94 email account. So you know that little notification banner that shows up at the top of your screen in iOS when you get a new email? I got that this afternoon and while quickly glancing, saw something about Beverley and the Skills Challenge. I thought a reader was forwarding something from The Onion. Serious.
This was odd, to be polite. I can't really think of a player more miscast for a particular event. I guess there was the year Antoine Walker participated in the 3-point shootout, but there, at least you could say he kind of got hot every now and then. But this...Beverley doesn't really possess any skills, aside from the ability to hound the guys that actually do possess the skills this event is intended to showcase. (And even there, he's slipped drastically this season). To his credit, I guess he sort of can take care of the ball, and at the least, he seems fairly competent being able to dribble it down the floor. But...yeah. In any event, whether it be his agent or the Rockets' marketing team, someone did a very good job at their job in making this happen. And at the least, I'll probably tune in when I wouldn't have otherwise. Maybe this is a new marketing strategy by the league? Include the most painfully ironic contestants into each event, summoning hilarity. Maybe we can get Omer Asik in the slam dunk contest with the patented two-hand dunk he does every single time, followed up with a hanging pullup on the rim.
As an aside, is there a dumber event than the Skills Challenge? Maybe the one where they have the WNBA players shoot the half-court shots. But back to the Skills Challenge, you have the most skilled athletes in the entire world, guys able to split double teams off pick and rolls, break ankles with stepbacks and hesitations and essentially everything Kyrie Irving and Steph Curry do nightly, and your manner of deciphering supremacy in skill is having them dribble through stationary cones and throw the ball through a hoop a few yards away? Really, NBA? You guys can do better than that.