Kids, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander played NBA Live and watched the All-Star Game together every year. In 2020, the two cousins have the opportunity to start a new tradition since they both participate in the Rising Stars Challenge as teammates in Team World.
“It's really crazy! It’s something we dreamed of when we were kids, ” exclaimed Nickeil during Team World training.
Nickeil, the back rookie of the Pelicans, admits that he has had a sawtooth first season. “Getting out of college, having play time and success early in the season, and then trying to adapt and keep learning and progressing even when I’m not playing is important. I have to find a way to contribute, to bring positive energy, to make sure the guys are in their game, and do everything I can to stay ready if the coach calls on me. ”
Conversely, Shai, who was transferred from the Clippers to the Thunder this summer, has had a great season. Along with Chris Paul, he helped Oklahoma City climb to sixth place in the Western Conference. The OKC leader almost doubled his points average to flirt with 20 points per game and be at the periphery of the discussions on the selection of replacements for the All-Star Game.
The rivalry between the two cousins is therefore not one on paper. “He's the one who has the advantage, there's no debate possible,” laughs Nickeil. “I still try to honor the name of our family so that it does not tarnish his performances … but I would still like to say that I am not far behind him! “
Interview conducted in Chicago.