Tony Parker is your 2012 Skills Challenge champion

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The Taco Bell Skills challenge was technically the second event on the agenda for All-Star Saturday night in Orlando, but with the first featuring teams of NBA players past and present, along with WNBA players launching half-court shots to ultimately determine the winner, well … we passed.

The Skills Challenge, though, is a little bit more interesting. It features some of the game’s top guards — this year’s field consisted of Rajon Rondo, Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, John Wall, and Tony Parker — running through an obstacle course of sorts where they need to showcase their dribbling, passing, and shooting abilities.

Tony Parker outlasted the rest of the field with a time of 32.8 seconds in the final round to take home this year’s trophy.

Wall and Rondo actually tied after the first round at 32.8 seconds each, so they had to go head-to-head to determine who would advance. Rondo cruised, but Wall struggled with his jumper, missing three straight which slowed him down considerably. He ended up missing the dunk too, but by that time he was already out, so he threw the ball off the backboard to himself to end his night with an entertaining jam.

Williams was the fastest to finish the first round with a time of 28.3 seconds, but missed four straight jumpers from the top of the circle in the final round which cost him. He finished with a time of 41.4. Rondo had trouble with the bounce pass, missing three in a row before advancing through the course to finish it in 34.6 seconds.

“For me, the bounce pass is key,” Parker said afterward, while answering serious questions about a non-so-serious contest. “You can make the bounce pass, you’re good. And the jump shot too, because you stay for like three hours in the locker room and you’re cold, and you have to take a jump shot like that, it’s tough.”

Not that tough. Parker missed only one bounce pass in his run to the title, and finished with a time of 32.8 seconds that was good enough to win it.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

Associated Press
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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.

Report: Other small-market teams championing Pacers’ tampering allegation against Lakers

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The NBA, at the Pacers’ request, is investigating whether the Lakers tampered by making impressible contact with Paul George.

Bob Kravitz of WTHR

In fact, there’s word that other small- and mid-market team officials have reached out to the Pacers and told them, “Good for you. Fight the good fight.”

Small-market teams whine too much about the disadvantages they face, but tampering isn’t really a market-size issue. Remember, under Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers were known as the only team that didn’t tamper.

The Lakers have advantages because George is from the area, and Los Angeles offers immense marketability. That’d be true whether or not they contacted George or his agent before he officially became a free agent.

I understand the desire to take down the big, bad Lakers – especially now that they appear poised to become truly big and bad again. But it’s hard to find a team that can cast a stone at them from anywhere other than a glass house.

Report: Clippers hiring ex-Cavaliers executive Trent Redden

AP Photo/Mark Duncan
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The power dynamics within the Clippers are shifting, and the ground apparently hasn’t settled yet.

Doc Rivers has been stripped of his presidency. Jerry West became a consultant. Lawrence Frank now holds the most prestigious title in the front office, and newly hired Michael Winger will report to him. Also falling under Frank in the organizational chart? Trent Redden.

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

Longtime Cleveland Cavaliers executive Trent Redden will join the LA Clippers’ front-office staff as assistant general manager, league sources said on Monday.

Redden was ousted in Cleveland with David Griffin. He’ll help the Clippers simply by providing another capable executive. They’ve long needed to add front-office employees (and pay for them).

But Redden also exacerbates the issue of Frank’s underlings having far more front-office experience than him. As the Clippers try to establish their new setup, we’ll see whether that creates complications.

Warriors’ Steve Kerr: I expect to coach all season and for many years ahead

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
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Warriors coach Steve Kerr has missed significant time the last two seasons due to complications from back surgery.

Could those issues derail his career?

Kerr, via Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“I fully expect to coach all year,” Kerr says in a no-nonsense tone. “That’s my expectation. And for many years to come.”

On the most basic level, it’d be good if Kerr feels well enough to coach. The headaches sound miserable, regardless of his job.

But it’d also be ideal if the NBA didn’t lose one of its best coaches just as he’s getting started. The 51-year-old Kerr might wind up the greatest coach of all time. Obviously that’s a long way off, but he has that potential – health permitting.