NBA All-Star 2016 Challenge Series: Taco Bell Skills Challenge

By Jaime Villegas

September 24, 2015

Arguably one of the most fun and entertaining challenges during the NBA All-Star Weekend, the Taco Bell Skills Challenge brings friendly competition to the court while still keeping fans on the edge of their seats!

A little background for the newcomers: the Taco Bell Skills Challenge isn’t actually pro-basketball players competing to see who can eat the most crunchy beef tacos (I know, how disappointing). The competition was updated this year to a tournament format to include three rounds: Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Finals.

The Format

Participants stand at one end of the court and dribble their way through three obstacles; once the player reaches the end of the obstacles they must then throw a pass through a net obstacle only slightly larger than a regular basketball. Then, the player must quickly run back across the court, and make a jump shot and then quickly run back across the court and make a three-pointer.

The players get three opportunities to make the three-pointer; if they don’t they can finish with a layup. Although, most rounds don’t usually take more than three attempts at the three-pointer.

When all of these tasks are completed successfully, the timer is stopped. (In years past, the teams were divided by East vs. West. During that format, the team with the fastest time from the East would face the team with the fastest time from the West in the final round.)

Friendly Competition

It’s easy to see why the Skills Challenge is a favorite among fans; it brings back a certain nostalgia of our childhood and those field days where we would spend the day outside competing in relay races against our classmates. Albeit slightly different now, the characteristics of those childhood “relay races” are still there, which I believe is what makes the challenge so relatable and fun, lending to the success of the challenge throughout All-Star history.

Like any competition, bragging rights are what it’s all about, and this year’s Skills Challenge was no different.

Take a look at last year’s Taco Bell Skills Challenge, and you’ll see what I mean!

Throwback Thursday: A Look at the 2015 Taco Bell Skills Challenge

For the first time, this year the contestants were put on side-by-side courses so they could compete at the same time. The head-to-head action generated some amusing moments, and made the competition between competitors much more tangible. It also made clear just how improbable Beverley's back-to-back winning shots were.

Houston's Beverley came from behind in the semifinal and final rounds to win the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. In the semis, Beverley struggled with the chest pass portion of the course, allowing Atlanta's Jeff Teague to build a big lead. But when Teague couldn't knock down the final jumper, Beverley caught up and sank his first attempt to advance. His championship round against Milwaukee's Brandon Knight followed a similar route, as Beverly again struggled with passing, but made his first shot to win the Challenge. Last year there were two Skills Contest winners — Utah's Trey Burke and Portland's Damian Lillard — who competed as teammates representing the Western Conference. Lillard announced he wouldn't participate in the Skills Contest when he was initially left off of the All-Star roster, although he was later added to the game. Burke was eliminated in the first round after struggling to compete the chest pass portion of the course.

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