Happy Birthday to Me!

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Czar’s Season Update: BBVA Rising Stars Challenge

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On the Road with Mike

I arrived in Orlando this afternoon and stumbled upon Chuck’s golf gear on my way to lunch. I’m a little concerned that my GM isn’t totally focused on tomorrow night’s Rising Stars Challenge.

Czar’s Season Update: Jeremy Lin


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.