Lou Williams’ All-Star appearance in Skills Challenge isn’t quite what he wanted
Lou Williams essentially accepted a consolation prize from the NBA to participate in the Skills Challenge during All-Star weekend at Staples Center.
His stated goal had been to represent the Clippers in the All-Star game Sunday at Staples Center, but Williams was not chosen as one of the Western Conference reserves — to his and his coaching staff’s dismay.
Instead, Williams will lace up his sneakers for the event that will take place Saturday night, his enthusiasm still high for being asked to be in the Skills Challenge along with seven other players.
Williams acknowledged it would have been much nicer to display his skills in the big event Sunday.
“I’ll be there for a night. I’ll be there for a night,” Williams repeated while smiling.
He is having a career year and is a major reason why the Clippers haven’t fallen into the abyss despite an injury-ravaged season.
Williams is averaging career highs in points (23.2), assists (5.3) and free-throw shooting (89.6%).
He has scored 40-plus points four times, including a 50-point effort against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland.
But when the All-Star reserves were announced Jan. 23, Williams was not among the elite group.
He had been “asked quite a while ago” to be in the Skills Challenge before the balloting for reserves was announced.
“If they had asked me closer to the time of the All-Star votes, I probably would have said no,” Williams said. “I was just betting on myself. I thought I was going to be there anyway. So, I said I would do it. But I’m going to Las Vegas after that.”
Williams will bet on himself against the competition that also includes New Jersey’s Spencer Dinwiddie, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Boston’s Al Horford, Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen, Sacramento’s Buddy Hield, Denver’s Jamal Murray and Detroit’s Andre Drummond.
The event consists of two participants going head-to-head in a test of ballhandling skills, passing and shooting.
They must dribble between five obstacles while moving down the court before passing the ball into a target, dribble back the length of the court for a layup and then dribble back down the court and drill a three-pointer from the top of the key.
In 2016, the NBA added a twist to the Skills Challenge to bring more excitement. It kept the guards, but added four big men.
And the last two winners were big guys, Minnesota’s 7-foot center Karl-Anthony Towns in 2016 and New York’s 7-3 forward Kristaps Porzingis in 2017.
When Clippers guard Patrick Beverley won the event in 2015 while playing for the Houston Rockets, he was a substitute for Washington’s John Wall.
Beverley defeated Isaiah Thomas to be crowned champ.
“I won it and I said I wasn’t going to come back no more,” Beverley said, laughing. “I won the one in New York and then there was the one in Toronto and I hurt my ankle and couldn’t do it. I walked in and it was me, Kyle Lowry, Jeff Teague, Isaiah Thomas and I did that.
“Now Lou is in it for us and he can shoot so that’s going to make it easy for him. That was the hardest part for everybody else. I couldn’t make none of the passes. I just made all the shots.”
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