NBA AlL-Star Weekend in Los Angeles began Friday morning with the U.S. and World teams holding practice sessions and media availability ahead of the Rising Stars Challenge. Lakers teammates Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma drew the loudest ovations of the day as the they entered the Verizon Up Arena inside the Convention Center.
Ingram is participating in the Rising Stars showcase for a second consecutive year, while it’s a first for Kuzma. The Lakers also had Lonzo Ball named to the game, but he is unable to participate due to a MCL sprain in his left knee that’s sidelined the rookie since Jan. 13.
NBA All-Star Media Day is akin to what’s seen with the Super Bowl, when players face questions on topics ranging from the game to their respective seasons, and in some cases more light-hearted subjects.
Kuzma was posed with one that touched on multiple angles, as he was asked which opposing player he would look to dunk on in the Rising Stars Challenge.
He named none other than Philadelphia 76ers big man and social media savant Joel Embiid. Kuzma explained it stems from nearly putting Embiid on a poster when the 76ers played the Lakers at Staples Center last November.
— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) February 16, 2018
Embiid was whistled for a foul on the play Kuzma referenced, and in addition to preventing a highlight-reel dunk, he dominated the Lakers to the tune of 46 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and seven blocked shots in a win.
Given Embiid’s showmanship and larger-than-life personality, and Kuzma’s gunslinger mentality and desire to win the MVP Award in front of his home crowd, the Rising Stars Challenge has quickly shaped up as must-see television.
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