By Godson Umejiego , Correspondent USA
NBA All-Stars Luka Dončić of the Dallas Mavericks and Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns will display their vast array of talents in the 2021 Taco Bell® Skills Challenge on Sunday, March 7 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The Taco Bell® Skills Challenge will take place before the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, airing on TNT.
Joining Dončić and Paul as 2021 NBA All-Stars in the field are New York Knicks forward Julius Randle, Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis and Orlando Magic center Nikola Vučević. The six-player competition also features Portland Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington.
The 19th Taco Bell® Skills Challenge is an obstacle-course competition that tests players’ dribbling, passing, agility and 3-point shooting skills. The event is part of NBA All-Star 2021, which will take place on one night. TNT’s NBA All-Star coverage on March 7 will begin at 5 p.m. ET with TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by CarMax, followed by the Taco Bell® Skills Challenge and MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest starting at 6:30 p.m. ET. NBA All-Star Game coverage will begin at 8 p.m. ET, with AT&T Slam Dunk taking place at halftime.
Dončić, who was named an NBA All-Star Game starter for the second year in a row, joins Sabonis (the 2020 runner-up) and Vučević as second-time participants in the Taco Bell® Skills Challenge. Paul, an NBA All-Star selection for the 11th time, will make his record fifth appearance in the Taco Bell® Skills Challenge and his first since 2011. Randle and Covington will make their event debuts.
Covington is in his eighth NBA season after not being selected in the 2013 NBA Draft. In the 2017-18 season, he was selected to the NBA All-Defensive First Team and ranked 11th in the league in 3-pointers made (203). Covington attended Tennessee State, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Nashville, Tenn. As part of NBA All-Star 2021, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association will commit more than $2.5 million in funds and resources toward HBCUs and support and awareness around equity and access to COVID-19 care, relief and vaccines. On March 7, the league will also pay tribute to the vital role of HBCUs through music, content and storytelling.
The Taco Bell® Skills Challenge is a three-round competition with a single-elimination tournament format. Two players will compete simultaneously on an identical course and the winner of each head-to-head matchup will advance to the next round. Two of the six participants, as chosen by the NBA, will receive a bye in the first round and automatically advance to the second round. First-round matchups will be announced at a later date.