By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
A Look At NBA All Star Weekend
PHOENIX — The 58th NBA All-Star Weekend started off with great expectations. I really didn’t know what to expect but just tried to keep up and participate in all the events that were going on around town.
Hall of Fame Coach, Lenny Wilkins seemed to have arrived at the same time. He saw me and smiled in a greeting in which all that know him is accustomed to.
“How you doing Wesley and we’re you headed?” “Oh hi Coach,” I replied. “Doing just fine and looking forward to all the activities this weekend. I’m headed downtown now to get my press pass and stuff.”
“Well come on young fella, you can ride with me.” At this point I’m grinning from ear to ear and was just wondering to myself how could the weekend get any better than this?
The distance from the airport to our hotel couldn’t have been more than 14 miles but it may have been the longest trip in Lenny Wilkins life, I talk that poor man to death.
After we finished all the pleasantries … nice weather we’re having, how’s the family … Wesley that’s a beautiful family that you have … I got right to business.
Who’s the best player in the NBA? “That would be Kobe Bryant without any question. He can go out every night and get you what you want. He’s worked hard at his craft and I’m very happy about his success.”
What do you think the best trade has been thus far? “I like that the Lakers trading Vladimir Radmanovic for Adam Morrison is going to bring the Lakers great dividends. Adam is a smart kid and his tough minded that will do the little things that the team needs plus I think that they triangle offense will compliment his game perfectly.”
What were some of the biggest surprises of the season? “Well I’m not really surprise at all about what the Orlando Magic is doing this year.”
“They’ve got a great nucleus and a group of guys that are going to be with the team for the 4-5 years, I think that Hedo Turkoglu is the only free agent at the end of the season.”
“The untimely injury to Jameer Nelson is a little bit of a set back. I really like this young man and how he was running the offense. He was having a breakout year this season.”
Pick four teams that you think are going to be in the thick of things when the season winds down. “In the east the Boston Celtics are going to be there and Doc Rivers have them executing at a high level.”
“The Cleveland Cavaliers are making a strong case but I would really like to see them match up with the Orlando Magic in the playoffs that would be exciting to see.
“Now in the west that’s another story. You’ve got the Lakers, Spurs and Utah that will be jockeying top seeding. In just a few more years the Portland Trailblazers will be knocking on the door as well.”
I could’ve asked more questions but we just pull up to the hotel. I don’t think that I got on his nerves or anything but let’s just say that I haven’t seen him around since.
An Opportunity For Everyone To Play
There’s much more going on at the NBA All-Star game than basketball. 1,000 members of the NBA family spent their Friday afternoon joining community based partners for an All-Star Day of Service.
“This is what we are all about,” stated Lucille O’Neal also known as Shaq’s Momma. “If we don’t start taking an active role in what’s going on around us then how can we sit and complain?”
Several different projects were going on simultaneously at various locations throughout the city. They made renovations to six homes, refurbished two basketball courts, started construction at 10 different locations of a brand new neighborhood playground, where Phoenix residents can live, learn, and play.
All-Stars: Dwight Howard, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Garnett, Leandro Barbosa, Tim Duncan, Devin Harris, Jason Kapono, Mo Williams, Aaron Afflalo, Daequan Cook were all on hand and joined by NBA Commissioner David Stern and NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver with KaBOOM at the Playground Build Holiday Park.
All-Stars: Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Yao Ming, Ray Allen, Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker, Paul Pierce, Allen Iverson, Pau Gasol, Chris Bosh, Danny Granger, J.R. Smith, Nate Robinson rolled their sleeves up with HandsOn Greater Phoenix School Revitalization. They got busy at the Cesar Chavez Elementary School.
All-Stars: LeBron James, Chris Paul, Amar’e Stoudemire, Rashard Lewis, Dirk Nowitzki, Joe Johnson, Derek Fisher, David West, Mike Bibby, Roger Mason, Jameer Nelson, Brandon Roy showed the home improvement skills at the Rebuilding Together Home Refurbishments on Pima Street.
The beautiful thing about this event is that there was a line of people waiting to participate and excited to do so. This is just one of the many ways that the NBA shows that it cares.
“Playing in the NBA All-Star game is the ultimate acknowledgment from the fans, Coaches and your teammates. Really it just doesn’t get much better than that,” stated Earvin Magic Johnson.
It’s so exciting to see the many faces that are here for the NBA All-Star game. Just sitting around listening to some of the stories of games from “way back when” is exciting to hear as the veterans tell some of the young players how they use to do it.
What you don’t get to see on television is the countless number of veterans that come back for this event to speak with various different players and offer words of encouragement.
“That is one thing that we pride ourselves on is getting involved in the lives of these young men to teach them a better way to go about things.”
“It isn’t fair to anyone to sit back and make all these decisions and form negative opinions about an individual until you’ve sat down and had a chance to speak with them,” Magic added.
I would like to be the first to announce that the Detroit Pistons newest BAD BOY, Allen Iverson, has got a haircut! I’m not saying that anyone in particular told him to or whatever … just food for thought.
The NBA All-Star game is a chance for the players, past or present, to connect. It’s so nice to see how these guys’ great each other like old lost friends.
The funniest thing that I’ve seen thus far is Shaquille O’Neal running down the hall, screaming trying to get away from a mob of kids wanting an autograph.
My prediction is that the East will win because they’ve got something to prove and I was at practice checking out some of their plays.
One thing that I know for sure is that it really doesn’t matter what era that you come from, but nobody can light up an arena with a smile such as Magic Johnson.