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Holiday happy to be in Houston, favored to win Skills Challenge

It has been a disappointing season for the Sixers thus far, as they currently sit out of playoff positioning, and have yet to see a single second of game time from their prized off-season pickup, Andrew Bynum.  It is fair to say that at this point in the season the team has left fans with little to be excited about.

The bright spot in an otherwise forgettable season for the franchise is the ever-improving play of young point guard Jrue Holiday, who will make his first All-Star appearance this weekend. At 22, Holiday is the youngest All-Star in Sixers' history; a storied history which boasts names such as Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, and Allen Iverson.

Unlike the Sixers' All-Star selection from last season, Andre Iguodala, Holiday is a fan favorite and a real sign of promise for the future of the franchise.  Holiday has improved in each of his four seasons with the Sixers, and he became the de facto leader of the squad this past summer after Iguodala was traded.

"I think my coaches and teammates really made the transition [to leader] easy. I'm more of a leader on the court, trying to talk to guys and get them into their best position to score and make plays," Jrue explained in a recent interview with Men's Health.

"This year I have a ton of responsibility," he continued. "Over the years, I've progressively grown. I can read defenses. The game has slowed down a little bit. My jump shot has gotten better."

The improvement in Holiday's all-around game has been recognized League-wide, and his first All-Star selection is an acknowledgement of that improvement.  Holiday however, isn't satisfied with his accomplishment and knows he needs to continue to work in order to keep his game elevated at the high level it has been throughout the season.

"I need to get better, and just be that tough player. Someone like Chris Paul is just so tough. He gets better every year, and as a point guard, he makes his team better every year. Even if he's not having a good game, he always makes someone else better. It's about the team."

Holiday's presence at the festivities in Houston gives Sixers fans a small reason to celebrate this weekend in the midst of what has been a dismal season. Although it will be exciting to see Jrue suited up alongside the likes of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, Holiday himself is not worried about how much he actually plays in the exhibition.

"I honestly don't really care [how much I play], as long as we win. I'm going to help out my team a little bit, but I'm going to be the biggest cheerleader, man. This is going to be fun."

Having someone to cheer for during All-Star weekend will be fun for Sixers fans as well.

Aside from playing in the actual All-Star game on Sunday evening, Jrue will also be competing in the Taco Bell NBA Skills Challenge on Saturday night, in which he is actually the favorite to win.