Second Year Forward Al Thornton And Rookie Guard Eric Gordon Selected To Play In 2009 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge And Youth Jam At NBA All-Star 2009
Los Angeles Clippers' second year forward Al Thornton and rookie guard Eric Gordon lead a list of 18 players selected for the 2009 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam to be held on Friday, February 13th in Phoenix during NBA All-Star 2009, the NBA announced today.
Averaging 17.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, Thornton currently ranks second in the NBA amongst second year players in scoring. Gordon is currently ranked fourth among all rookies in scoring, averaging 13.7 points per game, however in 13 games played in January, Gordon has averaged a rookie high 21.5 points in 41.2 minutes played per game.
The participants in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam were selected by the NBA's assistant coaches, with each team submitting one ballot. For the first time in the game's history, two current NBA players, All-Star starters Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat --veterans of the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and part of T-Mobile's "All-Star Faves" -- will serve on the coaching staffs, Howard for the Sophomores and Wade for the Rookies. The head coaches for the Rookie and Sophomore teams will be the lead assistants from the 2009 NBA All-Star Game coaching staffs.
Guard Kevin Durant and forward Jeff Green of the Oklahoma City Thunder join Thornton on the Sophomore team, which also includes Atlanta Hawks forward/center Al Horford, Philadelphia 76ers forward Thaddeus Young, New York Knicks forward Wilson Chandler, Detroit Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey and a pair of teammates from the Houston Rockets' guard Aaron Brooks and forward Luis Scola.
Joining Gordon on the Rookie team are Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, guard O.J. Mayo and center Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies and center Greg Oden and guard Rudy Fernandez from the Portland Trail Blazers. Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, Heat forward Michael Beasley and New Jersey Nets center Brook Lopez round out the Rookie team.
The T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam will be televised live nationally on TNT at 9 p.m. ET and also will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio, while NBA.com will make live audio available to fans in multiple languages. Fans tuning in to TNT will also get a special treat, as NBA All-Star starter LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, a participant in the 2004 and 2005 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge, will join Kevin Harlan, Kenny Smith and Craig Sager as part of TNT's broadcast as an analyst.
As title partner of the Rookie Challenge and overall NBA Rookie Program, T-Mobile has teamed up with the NBA and NBA Cares to create the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Phoenix students to experience NBA All-Star 2009. By successfully completing fitness, nutrition, and community service requirements, more than 3,500 "T-Mobile Stick Together All-Stars," ages 11-15, from participating school districts in Phoenix will watch the game from the best seats in the house at US Airways Arena.
As a new element to the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, fans had the unique opportunity to design the official jerseys worn by the Rookie and Sophomore teams. Thousands of fans registered for the NBA LIVE Jersey Creator Contest hosted by EA SPORTS for the chance to win a trip for two to Phoenix, AZ for NBA All-Star 2009. The winning jersey is being produced by adidas, the official uniform and apparel provider for the NBA, and will be worn by all participating Rookie and Sophomore players, marking the first time that a fan designed jersey has ever been worn during an NBA game or event. In past years, Rookies and Sophomores wore their regular team jerseys during the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam. The winning design was created by 18-year-old Tim Ahmed from East Meadow, Long Island. Ahmed attended East Meadow High School and is currently a first-year student at Baruch College in Manhattan.
In last year's T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson earned Most Valuable Player honors, making 11 three-pointers en route to a game-high 33 points, as the Sophomores cruised to a 136-109 victory. Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay added 22 points and Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Farmar tallied 17 points and 11 assists. Durant, then of the Seattle SuperSonics, led the Rookies with 23 points.
The contest began its current format pitting the Rookies against the Sophomores in 2000 and the Sophomores hold a 7-2 advantage over the first-year players. The game will be played in two 20-minute halves. Individual foul totals will be kept, but a player cannot foul out. A team will be in the penalty situation after 10 team fouls or after the second foul in the final two minutes of each half. In the event of a tie game, there will be a two-minute overtime to determine the winner. The clock will stop after each successful field goal in the last minute of each half.
T-Mobile will provide basketball fans with the opportunity to have their vote count toward selecting the MVP of the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam by voting on NBA.com or via SMS on mobile phones during the second half of the game.
The NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 15, will air live on TNT and ESPN Radio beginning at 8 p.m. EST. The game will also be telecast in over 200 countries and territories in more than 40 languages and broadcast on NBA.com.
NBA All-Star brings together the top NBA players and performers for a week of competition, community service and world-class entertainment. Among the many other exciting All-Star events are Sprite Slam Dunk, Foot Locker Three-Point Shootout, PlayStation Skills Challenge, Haier Shooting Stars and NBA All-Star Jam Session presented by adidas.
Building upon its already strong appeal to the nation's youth and as Official Partner of the NBA, T-Mobile is showcasing the NBA's youngest players -- the Rookies -- through the T-Mobile Rookie Program. Highlights include the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, an All-Star competition between NBA rookies and second-year players, and rookie awards presentations including the T-Mobile Rookie of the Month and T-Mobile Rookie of the Year. To learn more about T-Mobile's partnership with the NBA, visit www.t-mobile.com/nba.