NEW YORK – Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, John Wall of the Washington Wizards and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder were selected by fans to compete against Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets in the 2011 Taco Bell® Skills Challenge on Feb. 19, at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
For the first time, the NBA and Taco Bell gave fans the opportunity to determine participants in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge as part of the “Choose Your Squad” program. From Jan. 27 through Feb. 15, fans could choose their squad of four players out of eight candidates online at NBA.com/chooseyoursquad. Along with the four players chosen to compete, fans also had the opportunity to vote for Baron Davis of the Los Angeles Clippers, Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings, Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers and Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs.
Curry, who leads the NBA in free throw shooting percentage (.941), has followed up a solid rookie campaign by pacing the Warriors in assists with 6.0 apg while also contributing 18.4 ppg; Curry also is participating in the 2011 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam. Rose, who was voted to start for the Eastern Conference in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game, is the only player in the league to rank in the top 10 in both scoring (8th, 24.5 ppg) and assists (9th, 8.2 apg). Wall, the overall top selection in the 2010 NBA Draft, ranks seventh overall in assists (8.9 ppg) and is second among rookies in scoring (15.0 ppg); Wall also is participating in the 2011 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam. A first-time All-Star, Westbrook is the only player in the NBA averaging at least 22.0 points, 8.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds. A four-time All-Star, who was voted to start for the Western Conference in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game, Paul paces the league in steals (2.47 spg) while ranking fourth in assists (9.6 apg). Paul is the only player with at least 7,500 points, 3,900 assists and 950 steals through 400 games.
This year’s event includes a new charitable element in partnership with NBA Cares and Boys & Girls Clubs of America that will support the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens’ “Graduate To Go” initiative, a national initiative to help teens graduate from high school through real-world experiences. Each of the five participants will be paired with a teen member of Boys & Girls Club of Southern California. The teen paired with the event winner will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, while the other students will each receive an educational scholarship, all courtesy of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens. Each Graduate to Go scholar was carefully selected from applications received through the Boys & Girls Clubs in the Southern California area, based on their outstanding leadership qualities and inspiration to their peers both in and out of school.
“Congratulations to the players and the Graduate to Go teens taking part in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Saturday. We are honored to partner with NBA Cares to give these deserving Boys & Girls Club teens this opportunity of a lifetime,” said Greg Creed, President of Taco Bell and Chairman of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens. “Experiences like this have the power to inspire teens to stay committed to their high school degree and dream big.”
The Taco Bell Skills Challenge was introduced at NBA All-Star 2003 in Atlanta and features five players competing in a two-round timed “obstacle course” consisting of 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 with the order of competition determined by inverse order of the first round times. At the discretion of the referee, television instant replay may be consulted for clarification of rules compliance.
In addition to adding a fan vote and the new charitable element, this year’s Taco Bell® Skills Challenge will feature an expanded field from four to five participants.
Last year in Dallas, Steve Nash finished with a winning time of 29.9 seconds, joining the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade (2006 and 2007) as the only other two-time winner in Taco Bell Skills Challenge history.
The Taco Bell Skills Challenge will be televised live nationally as part of the NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by State Farm, which will also feature the Haier Shooting Stars, Foot Locker Three-Point Contest and Sprite Slam Dunk. TNT and ESPN Radio’s national coverage will begin at 8 p.m. EST from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. The 60th NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 20, will air live on TNT and ESPN Radio, and in more than 200 countries in more than 40 languages.
Below are the participants for the 2011 Taco Bell Skills Challenge:
2011 TACO BELL SKILLS CHALLENGE COMPETITORS
Participant, Team Pos. Ht. Wt.
Chris Paul, New Orleans G 6-0 175
Stephen Curry, Golden State G 6-3 185
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls G 6-3 190
John Wall, Washington Wizards G 6-4 195
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City G 6-3 187
TACO BELL SKILLS CHALLENGE YEAR-BY-YEAR WINNERS
2003 – Jason Kidd, New Jersey
2004 – Baron Davis, New Orleans
2005 – Steve Nash, Phoenix
2006 – Dwyane Wade, Miami
2007 – Dwyane Wade, Miami
2008 – Deron Williams, Utah
2009 – Derrick Rose, Chicago
2010 – Steve Nash, Phoenix
About Taco Bell Corp.
Taco Bell Corp. (“Taco Bell”), a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., (NYSE: YUM), is the nation’s leading Mexican-style quick service restaurant chain. Taco Bell serves tacos, burritos, signature quesadillas, Grilled Stuft Burritos, nachos, and other specialty items such as Crunchwrap Supreme®, in addition to the Why Pay More!® Value Menu. Taco Bell serves more than 36.8 million consumers each week in nearly 5,600 restaurants in the U.S.
About the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens
The Taco Bell Foundation, Inc., also known as the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens (TBFT), a non-profit 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation, is committed to addressing the growing number of high school dropouts in the U.S. by providing at-risk youth with mentors and real-world experiences that will motivate them to stay in school and achieve more in life, and to collaborating with like-minded individuals and organizations to garner greater impact. Since 1995, TBFT has donated more than $28 million to support teen programs at Boys & Girls Clubs of America and other teen-serving organizations with the help of on-going customer, franchisee and employee donations. For more information about TBFT, visit www.tacobellfoundationforteens.org.
About NBA All-Star 2011
NBA All-Star 2011 in Los Angeles will bring together some of the most talented and passionate players in the league’s history for a global celebration of the game. The 60th NBA All-Star Game, which will be held on Sunday, Feb. 20 at the Staples Center, will reach fans in more than 200 countries and territories in more than 40 languages. TNT will televise the All-Star Game for a ninth consecutive year, marking Turner Sports’ 27th year of All-Star coverage. NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by State Farm will feature the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, Haier Shooting Stars, Sprite Slam Dunk, and Taco Bell Skills Challenge. Other events at NBA All-Star 2011 will include the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, and NBA All-Star Jam Session presented by adidas. This will be the fifth NBA All-Star held in Los Angeles, which also hosted the event in 2004, 1983, 1972, and 1963.