Basketball Diaries from NBA All-Star Weekend
One big hole in Trashwire has always been the absence of a sports section. As the primary writer for the site, I’m usually too busy writing about which silicone bimbo got the boot from Rock of Love to pay much attention to the wide world of sports, but lately a few sporting events have started to pique my interest.
First, I covered the Super Bowl… or rather, the commercials that were on during the Super Bowl, but that’s a start, right? Then I debated adding some coverage of the Phoenix Suns season because I love watching their games. I decided that covering only one team wouldn’t really give us a “fair and balanced” sports section, and since many of our readers live in Denver, people would start to wonder why I wasn’t talking about the Nuggets instead.
So, in the tradition of my Super Bowl post, I decided it would be fun to cover this year’s NBA All-Star weekend. Next thing you know, I was on my way down to Phoenix to check it out.
If you follow Trashwire on Twitter, you probably saw the updates I posted about hanging out with NBA legend David Thompson or making my way to the Block Party to listen to the local band that was playing. You might have also seen some posts about the Storm Toopers or Jedi Knight’s running around the Jam Session.
I also spent some time at the Wyndham, which became one of the sites for the temporary league office, where I met legends like Dominique Wilkins, George “Iceman” Gervin, winningest coach of all time Lenny Wilkens and the ever-handsome Rick Fox.
Yesterday, Trashwire’s Twitter friends got the first look at some of the fun events during All-Star Saturday, but for those who don’t use Twitter, here’s a rundown of what went on:
Things kicked off at the US Airways Center with the eighth annual Haier Shooting Stars competition. The crowd booed anytime anyone even mentioned the Spurs and Detroit’s team, consisting of Arron Afflalo, Bill Laimbeer and Katie Smith took home the title. The Playstation Skills Challenge winner was Derrick Rose, who finished the course in 35.3 seconds, ending with a double pump reverse slam dunk. The Footlocker Three-Point Shootout went to a tie-breaker round when Daequan Cook and Rashard Lewis tied for 15 points. Despite all this, the competition was a bit of a yawner. Even the synopsis from NBA.com commented that the three-point competition “lacked drama despite the extra session.”
The excitement in the room returned as we built up to the main event, the Sprite Slam Dunk contest. Would reigning champ Dwight Howard be able to hold on to his title with something even more amazing than his Superman dunk from last year? Would a new challenger unleash a dunk the likes of which had never been seen? Everyone stopped what they were doing and focused on the court as the contenders and judges entered.
Both Rudy Fernandez and J.R. Smith had some sweet dunks, but it all boiled down to 5’9″ Nate Robinson vs Howard. The entire place was on their feet when Howard not only rolled out an even higher basket, but dashed into a phone booth to dawn his trademark Superman cape. The epic theatricality of it was spectacular and Howard’s sense of humor only elevated the fun.
Robinson answered back with an equally spectacular display. Dawning a green Knicks uniform to represent Kryptonite, he became Krypto-Nate and played the role of Lex Luthor, leaping over the 6’11” Howard’s head for a killer dunk that stunned the crowd. In the end Robinson emerged victorious, winning 52% of fan votes and taking home the title.
I chatted with players and legends later that night about the dunks and there seemed to be a split between those who liked the use of elaborate props and those who desired a return to less theatrical displays of exceptional skill. I can understand both sides of the coin, but in the end, it boils down to who can put on the best show. While Vince Carter might not have needed a cape or a costume to perform his epic arm-in-the-net dunk, it had the same effect on the crowd as the first time Michael Jackson busted out the Moonwalk. Whether it was based on skill or showmanship, it was still a great show, and that’s what this is all about.
At the arena, I bumped into James Denton and grabbed a picture before I headed to my section. I had awesome seats next to Ben Lyons and Sal Masekela and had a great vantage point for spotting stars like Jimmy Jam, Maria Shriver, Spike Lee, Donald Faison, Ludacris, Chris Tucker and others. While I wasn’t exactly working with the pinnacle of digital camera technology, I managed to get a few shots of the contest and the celebs around the court.
I made a quick stop at the NBA Cares and Cooks party, where I met the beautiful Lisa Leslie, legend Spencer Haywood, and listened to the band perform. Then it was off to the NBA Players Association Gala event.
Legends and current players all gathered in the giant ballroom of the convention center to kick back, enjoy some food and have a drink. I made a big circle of the room before spotting Suns star Steve Nash, who would receive an honor at the event, in the VIP section. Moments later, I ran into Nash’s teammate Lou Amundson (who went to my high school and whose lovely sister Alena provides legal advice for Trashwire). After Amundson and I attempted to give my dad, Alvin Gentry, a brief bio of T.I., who was performing at the party, I herded my dad closer to the stage for a more hands-on lesson.
T.I. controlled the crowd as they sang every word to hits like “Whatever You Like” and “What You Know”. It was like a chorus as the whole room belted the Rihanna hook in “Live Your Life”.
When I finally jumped in a cab to go home, I left knowing that it was one of the coolest days ever.
These pictures can be found on the photos page, or check them out bellow.