NBA All-Star Diary – Day 2
Anton Roxas on Feb 17, 2019 09:02 PM
Not surprisingly, LeBron James drew one of the biggest crowds during the All-Star Game Media Day.
9:30 A.M. – Unlike yesterday when I got up before the sun did and before my alarm rang, today was the exact opposite. I overslept and feared that I would miss a chance to attend the second media availability day featuring the NBA All-Star Game participants. So, I got up, took a bath and headed downstairs to meet up with TJ for breakfast.
10:04 A.M. – I went to the second floor of the hotel where TJ was feasting on waffles and sausage patties. Just what I needed to jumpstart my day. We had to play catch up though as we were informed by our colleague, Gretchen Ho that the players were about to come out for interviews at the Bojangles Coliseum. As soon I finished eating, TJ and I met up with our Uber driver to take us to the interview session.
10:37 A.M. – We arrive at the Bojangles Coliseum and the place is packed. The footcount was at least quadruple what it was yesterday. The first player I saw was Stephen Curry who was surrounded by a horde of media people from all over the world armed with various kinds of equipment.
“I never take this stuff for granted. Every year has been just a surreal, unbelievable experience, an accomplishment that I do take a moment and just, obviously, thank God for the ability to be here, to be healthy, to play this game at the highest level, but not forget where I came from,” said Curry, who was selected as an All-Star for the 6th straight season.
10:42 A.M. – While listening to Curry speak, I glanced to my left and noticed a huge fellow with curly hair and a scruffy beard. It was my favorite NBA player, Blake Griffin. I quickly went to his pod and waited for my moment to ask a question. Somebody just asked him what his message was to people who say he didn’t really just over a Kia.
“Try it. Try to jump over the whole thing and get back to me,” said Griffin, eliciting laughter from the entire group.
His interview ended and I felt a little disappointed because I didn’t get my question in. I wanted to have even just a little moment to interact with my favorite player. I followed him to the back and surprisingly, he was taking a video with his phone and focused it right at me. Totally starstruck, all I could do what pull out my phone and take a picture of him. Check it out.
10:51 A.M. – After going to Griffin, I passed by James Harden’s pod before going to over to see Dwyane Wade, who is playing in his final All-Star Game. The 37 year old, three-time champion who is considered the best shooting guard in the history of the game behind Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant responded to a question about who would succeed him as the most successful and celebrated two guard in the NBA.
“I’m not passing the torch to James (Harden) or Bradley (Beal). They takin’ the torch. Those guys are unbelievable players. There’s a bar that’s set before you come in. You try to reach that bar and hopefully get over it. And set another standard and set another bar. And those guys do the same thing,” said Wade.
As Wade was speaking, the entire crowd inside the Bojangles Coliseum started to make noise.
“Oh, that’s Bron coming out right now,” said Wade, who is one of LeBron James’ closest friends.
11:15 A.M. – King James took the seat as his pod drew the biggest crowd among all the superstars in the venue. Not surprisingly, he was asked about his friendship with Wade.
“For me being a competitor, for me being his teammate to being a competitor again, for us sharing father advice to sharing marriage advice to sharing son advice, it's really bigger than just basketball when it comes to me and D-Wade,” said James.
I passed by and listened in on the interviews of other All-Stars as well like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant when I realized that this is actually the best part of the entire NBA All-Star weekend. Journalist are given access to players that regular fans don’t get. We have opportunities to interview the best players in the world from up close and I just felt thankful for the ooportunity. That’s why I always say this is the “best job in the world.”
3:40 P.M. – By this time, TJ and I were walking back to the hotel feeling fatigued. Personally, I was overwhelmed by seeing all of the players from Team LeBron and Team Giannis practice. It was something I used to only see on TV. Once I returned to my room, I organized my things and lied down on my bed.
7:01 P.M. – Next thing I knew, time had passed and we had to get ready for the next event – The State Farm All-Star Saturday Night. TJ and I went through the same routine we went through the night before. We did a Facebook Live session and returned to our seats high up in the stands. Eventually, we decided to transfer to another spot with a closer view of the court.
10:13 P.M. – With a nice vantage point of the arena, I enjoyed watching Jayson Tatum win the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. I also enjoyed the star-studded Mountain Dew three-point contest which Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets won, beating Steph Curry in the Finals. I was also able to spot many celebrities at courtside like J. Cole and Quavo. Of course, I couldn’t miss Russell Westbrook, who was his usual fashionable self, helping out his teammate Hamidou Diallo at the AT&T Slam Dunk contest. I thought Diallo’s dunk off a Westbrook pass was impressive, as he slammed it off the side of the backboard using his off-hand. But then, he called out the biggest man inside the Spectrum Center – Shaquille O’Neal himself.
Even from where we were sitting, Shaq looked huge. It was my first time to see him and all I can say is that he is larger than life. Diallo courageously dunked over him, earning a trip to the Finals where he edged Dennis Smith, Jr. for the title.
10:50 P.M. – We finished earlier than yesterday as I helped TJ do a spiel by serving as his equipment manager. I held up his portable LED light as he delivered his lines flawlessly in front of the camera. Aside from being at NBA All-Star weekend, watching TJ work was a great experience in itself. I have learned a lot from him through the years but this is the first time for me to see him work from up close. Now, I know how he is able to deliver reports from anywhere in the world. Respect.
11:14 P.M. – TJ and I were walking out of the Spectrum Center on our way back to the hotel when I remembered that another coveted basketball shoe was released today. I invited him to come with me back to the Foot Locker House of Hoops where the Jordan 6 ‘Infrared’ was being displayed all over the pop-up shop. After a short internal debate in my brain, I pulled the trigger and copped the shoes. And then, I realized something…
I haven’t seen Michael Jordan yet. Seeing him in the flesh would be the perfect way to end what has been an unbelievable trip so far.