Basketball Diaries from NBA All-Star Weekend

Nate Robinson wins the slam dunk contestOne 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 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.

Alexis Gentry

Alexis Gentry is the creator and editor of She has been called a “dynamic, talented and unique voice in pop culture” by Ben Lyons of E! and, with her strong fascination with entertainment and penchant for writing, it’s not hard to see why.

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4 Responses

  1. Dean says:

    I didn’t see all of this weekend’s festivities but I thought the events were either hit or miss. I saw GEICO or is it HORSE and that started off okay but toward the end it became a three point shootout. Yawn. Any connection to the Jordan-Bird McDonalds ads of the 90s were lost after the competition. Still, every person who is a basketball fan knows the game and there is hope for it in the future.

    I saw the tail end of the three point contest and I enjoyed it. A lot of it came down to the last two racks as folks were not doing especially well on the first couple of racks so it made for some excitement. Also, its funny you saw TI perform live because if you think about it, dude is about to go jail. I mean him not going to jail is funny but its usually the other way around – you see a performer you knew served time instead of seeing a performer you are certain will serve time.

    The slam dunk competition was not that exciting for the home viewer and I think its because they had a slam dunk TV special right before it. You saw all the great dunks from the past so you can’t help but to compare Saturday’s competition to past competitions. Why I bring it up is it made the Dwight Howard Superman dunk and Nate Robinson skyscraper dunk seem like retreads. Both played off of years past and even more so for Robinson since what he did was done on three separate occasions. Still, I popped for a couple of the dunks but nothing was real spectacular.

    I did not see the actual all-star game because, well, Family Guy and The Simpsons were on but I did catch some highlights after the game and it looks like the best highlight came before the game when Shaq danced with the Jabowokees. I like Randy Jackson’s America’s Best Dance Crew on MTV so it was nice to see the champs from Season 1 again (and the G commercials don’t count since they only show three of the five members at any one time).

    Cool pictures by the way but I can’t seem to enlarge any of the thumbnails but thats probably a problem on my end. I think what is funny is a lot of the thumbnails have the heads of the players or former players missing. Lisa Leslie (I think thats her) barely has her head in the photo.

  2. hilldog says:

    The thumbnails take a while to load, but they do. Loved the Shaq dance with the Jabowokees the most. Fell asleep during the GEICO contest, super boring. The number one thing I missed the most…Charles Barkley ripping on Kenny! Chris Webber is cute and all, but we needed Sir Charles.
    Slam dunk contest was pretty good; some guys got robbed with scores of 8’s, but the best dunk won. Major points for the phone booth though.
    Bring back Charles!!!!

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