NEW YORK – Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors will defend his Taco Bell® Skills Challenge title against a field consisting of Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs, John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets. The 2012 Taco Bell® Skills Challenge will take place on Feb. 25, at Amway Center in Orlando.
Curry will attempt to join the Phoenix Suns’ Steve Nash (2005 and 2010) and the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade (2006 and 2007) as the only two-time winners in Taco Bell Skills Challenge history. This year’s Taco Bell® Skills Challenge will feature an expanded field from five to six participants.
Curry, who leads the Warriors in assists with 6.5 per game and averages 17.2 points and 1.8 steals, won last year’s Taco Bell® Skills Challenge with a final-round time of 28.2 seconds to beat Westbrook. Irving, the overall top selection in the 2011 NBA Draft, who also is participating in the BBVA Rising Star Challenge, leads rookies in scoring (18.3 ppg) and ranks second in assists (4.8 apg). Parker, a 2012 NBA All-Star, paces the Spurs in both scoring (19.4 ppg) and assists (7.8 apg). Wall, the No. 1 selection in the 2010 NBA Draft, averages a team-high 7.5 assists to go along with 16.9 points. Westbrook, the 2011 Taco Bell® Skills Challenge runner-up and a 2012 NBA All-Star, ranks fifth in the league in scoring (23.2 ppg) and seventh in steals (1.9 spg), while adding 5.5 apg. Williams, the current record holder in the event at 25.5 seconds which he set in 2008 in New Orleans, is a 2012 NBA All-Star, ranks sixth in assists (8.3 apg) and eighth in scoring (21.7 ppg).
This is the third year Taco Bell has offered the Graduate To Go™ experience for teens at the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. In partnership with NBA Cares and the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, each Taco Bell Skills Challenge player will be paired with an All-Star teen from an Orlando area Boys & Girls Club who has shown outstanding leadership and determination to stay in school despite personal obstacles. All participating teens will receive the Graduate to Go™ experience of a lifetime: a behind-the-scenes career tour of NBA All-Star; an opportunity to meet with NBA players; the chance to be on the court during the Taco Bell Skills Challenge to cheer on their NBA player; and an educational scholarship. At the conclusion of this event, $55,000 in educational scholarships will be awarded to the participating All-Star teens. The teen paired with the winning Taco Bell Skills Challenge player will receive a $25,000 educational scholarship.
The Taco Bell Skills Challenge was introduced at NBA All-Star 2003 in Atlanta and features six 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 three 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.
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 7 p.m. EST from Amway Center in Orlando. The 61st NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 26, 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 2012 Taco Bell Skills Challenge:
2012 TACO BELL SKILLS CHALLENGE COMPETITORS
Participant, Team Pos. Ht. Wt.
Stephen Curry, Golden State G 6-3 185
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland G 6-3 191
Tony Parker, San Antonio G 6-2 185
John Wall, Washington G 6-4 195
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City G 6-3 187
Deron Williams, New Jersey G 6-3 209
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
2011 – Stephen Curry, Golden State
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, XXL 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. Since 1992, TBFT has donated more than $30 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.graduatetogo.co and find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GraduateToGo.