By Ben Golliver
The captains are a new addition to All-Star Saturday this year, part of a twist that was first announced back in December. The All-Star Saturday events will remain the same -- the Shooting Stars, Skills Challenge, Three-Point Contest and the Slam Dunk Contest -- but the conferences will earn points based on their performances in each event. Running point totals for both conferences will be kept throughout the night and the winning conference will receive $350,000 to donate to charity while the losing conference settles for $150,000.
Participants in the All-Star Saturday events will be announced next week. In the meantime, two hearty thumbs up for these choices, which ease the early concerns that arose when the idea first became public.
The initial fear was that the captains would not be current players, leaving commentators like Shaquille O'Neal or Magic Johnson to fill hours of time on the microphone. That would have been a minor catastrophe.
In Wade and Paul, the NBA has selected two charismatic stars who are also insanely competitive and aren't afraid to talk some trash. They were teammates with USA Basketball, they both endorsed Jordan Brand for a number of years, and they are both All-Star veterans. In other words, they should have a good rapport and also an understanding of what the night is all about.
They also seem well-suited to walking the fine line between family fun and the desire to win at all costs, even in these relatively unimportant circumstances. Both men have young children so there's a good chance we'll see cameo appearances from their family members. Paul's son is already a budding star, just ask pop star Justin Bieber.
Wade's charities are Big Brothers Big Sisters and Make-A-Wish America; Paul's charities are the Boys & Girls Club of America and Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign. The 2013 All-Star Game will be held on Sunday, Feb. 17 at the Toyota Center. All-Star Saturday will be Feb. 16.