Around the League


Around the League

Copyright 1999 NBAE - Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty ImagesThe Rookie Challenge will sport a new look at All-Star 2012. And Shaq and Sir Charles will have to settle their next wrangle outside of the studio.

Since 1994, the annual exhibition game has showcased up-and-coming hoops stars like Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Paul Pierce, Pao Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki. Traditionally, the league’s top first- and second-year players competed against each other for newbie supremacy.

However, this year the Rookie Challenge will be reborn as the Rising Stars Challenge. The young talent pool will be shaken and stirred by general managers Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal, who will each draft a nine-man squad from a mixed bag of rookies and sophomores previously chosen by NBA assistant coaches.

I’ll be joining my fellow TNT crew member Chuck on the sidelines and will do my best to help coach our team to victory and follow up my 2003 win with the Sophomores with a second Challenge title. I have total confidence in my GM and trust that Barkley will assemble a dynamic crew of competitors.

Ernie Johnson will host the 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge Draft, scheduled to air live on NBA TV next Thursday, February 16th at 7:00 PM ET, with Kenny Smith serving as honorary commissioner.

On the Road with Mike

I attended our annual TNT/NBA TV tip-off seminar at Turner’s headquarters in Atlanta on Thursday. After the extended offseason, it provided a great opportunity for all of us to get together before the hectic NBA basketball season gets underway and scatters us on assignments around the country. As always the meeting was very informative. The league sent people in from the NBA office to bring us up to speed on changes we need to be aware of such as expanded use of video replay and amended interpretations of the official rules. TNT introduced us to the latest technologies that will be utilized during our broadcasts as well as the TNT family’s newest member Shaquille O’Neal, who will be a magnificent addition to the team.

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