NBA All-Star Weekend is in full effect for the basketball world. The rookies, sophomore and celebrities are set to put on a show tonight. Blake Griffin has the world anticipating this year’s Slam Dunk contest like it’s Dr. Dre‘s Detox album. The main course in this basketball feast is the All-Star Game itself. We get to see the best 24 basketball players in the world competing under the lights of the Staples Center. This is sure to satisfy your basketball appetite.
At around the same time the NBA was crowning its 2011 All-Stars, the best high school players in the country were hearing their names called for the McDonald’s All-American Game. Airing March 30 from the United Center in Chicago, the McDonald’s game is a glimpse into the future of the NBA All-Star Game.
Before he took the NBA by storm, Griffin won the McDonald’s high school dunk contest. Shaquille O’Neal, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James won the MVP at the McDonald’s All-American Game before they won MVP of the NBA All-Star Game.
Yesterday, we were watching a replay of the 2001 All-Star dunk contest in the Dime office, and when it was mentioned that contestant DeShawn Stevenson had won the McDonald’s dunk contest, Kenny Smith cracked, “Well, this isn’t high school. There’s no burgers in here.” Actually, Kenny got it wrong. The numbers don’t lie:
* 146 McDonald’s All-Americans currently play in the NBA.
* Former McDonald’s All-Americans currently playing in the NBA have
combined for 155 All-Star Game appearances.
* Over the past 10 years, 70 percent (28 of 40) of NBA league leaders across four major stat categories — points, assists, rebounds, steals — were McDonald’s All-Americans.
* 28 of the past 29 NBA championship teams had at least one McDonald’s All-American on the roster. The lone exception was the ’83 Philadelphia 76ers.
* 54 former McDonald’s All-Americans own 87 NBA championship rings in all.
* 6 McDonald’s All-Americans have won a combined 13 NBA MVP awards.
* 18 McDonald’s All-Americans won NBA Rookie of the Year honors.
* 20 McDonald’s All-Americans became No. 1 draft picks.
So when you tune in to ESPN to watch this year’s McDonald’s game on March 30, remember the names: Austin Rivers, Michael Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, Marquis Teague, etc. Odds are, you’ll be seeing them on the NBA’s big stage soon enough.