Kid Cunningham, Best Player in the Rising Stars Challenge 2022
Cleveland – The Rising Stars Challenge became the final segment of All-Star Weekend to change its format, and it was a success.
The event, featuring the best freshmen and sophomores in the NBA, used an entirely new format this season. Rather than just being one game in which these players participate, as in years past, there were four rosters of seven led by Hall of Famers Isiah Thomas, Rick Barry, James Worthy and Gary Payton.
Three matches were played: two semi-final matches and a championship match, in reference to the league’s celebration of its 75th anniversary this season.
And after Kid Cunningham, the first pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, led Barry’s team to a 25-20 win over Ischia to win the event, he said he was happy with the change of format.
“It was so much fun,” Cunningham said after winning the MVP award at the event. “Great teammates, great coaches, great atmosphere… I had a great time for sure.”
All three games used “Elam Ending,” which first came to All-Star Weekend two years ago in Chicago when it debuted on the All-Star Game.
“I was relieved” after his team lost in the first semi-final when Desmond fired between two free throws to seal the victory, said Rocket goalkeeper Galen Green. “It was fun. It was exciting there. We were just jumping around and playing for free.”
While the games’ opening moments were reminiscent of previous Rising Stars games, which are usually full of dips, triple visions, and hardly any intensity, the new format added some flavor in the closing moments.
When Jalen Suggs, who had missed a potential free kick moments earlier, missed late in the first semi-final, Cole Anthony and Teresi Maxi gave an impassioned talk before quietly sinking into the second. Give victory to your team.
In fact, all three games eventually ended with a free throw, a sign of the unusual type of defense that was being played, at least when matches were at stake.
“Love this,” said Hornets guard Lamelo Ball. “I feel like that was cool. To get something new, with 75, 50 and 25, I feel like it was iconic.”
Tonight also featured G League Ignite players taking part in the festivities for the first time, an additional way for the NBA to highlight its new initiative to get the best odds of skipping college and spending time in G instead. Drought.