Pinoy Pride Jordan Clarkson, Collin Sexton, and Walker Kessler were crowned champions of the Kia Skills Challenge by the host Utah Jazz during the continuation of the 2023 NBA All-Star Weekend yesterday at the Vivint Arena. Also part of the scene were AT&T Slam Dunk champion Mac McClung of the Philadelphia 76ers and Starry 3-Point Contest champion Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers.
After a slow start, the Jazz bounced back in the two succeeding competitions showcasing passing and shooting skills. Utah only placed third in the opening round of the relay race, where the Team Rookies composed of Orlando Magic’s Paolo Banchero, Houston Rockets’ Jabari Smith Jr., and Detroit Pistons’ Jaden Ivey emerged victorious. Meanwhile, Team Antetokounmpo composed of siblings Thanasis and Alexandros, and Jrue Holiday, who replaced Giannis due to a wrist injury, placed second.
Lillard finally took home the trophy after falling short in 2014 and 2019. He hit his last four shots to register 26 points, surpassing the previous high score of 25 set by 2020 champion Buddy Hield of the Indiana Pacers.
Third competitor Tyrese Haliburton of the Pacers ran out of steam and only tallied 17 points after tying the highest score of 31 set by Stephen Curry in 2021 during the elimination round. Lillard’s win was also special since he played wearing the uniform of his alma mater, Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, which is only 50 kilometers away from the Vivint Arena.
Guard McClung, standing at 6’2″, capped the night with back-to-back perfect dunks against 6’9″ Trey Murphy III of the New Orleans Pelicans in the finals. He received the Dr. J Trophy from Philadelphia 76ers legend Julius Erving.