2019 NBA All-Star Diary: Day 3

Anton Roxas on Feb 18, 2019 07:41 PM
2019 NBA All-Star Diary: Day 3
Anton Roxas wrapped up his coverage of the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend by watching the All-Star Game and seeing his idol Michael Jordan in the flesh.

7:45 A.M. – For the first time on this trip, I woke up at the same time my alarm rang. I had to get up early to shoot my opening spiel for my NBA All-Star weekend Vlog, which will be shared on the ABS-CBN Sports social media accounts. After taking a bath and dressing up, I picked up my tripod and headed outside.

9:41 A.M. – After several attempts, I finally got the right take. I’ve recently started learning how to shoot videos by myself using a tripod and other gadgets. It’s not an easy task being a one-man digital team and that’s why I have so much respect for TJ Manotoc, who makes everything looks easy with his international reporting.

9:55 A.M. – I was back at the hotel when TJ told me our call time to our first activity for the day was in five minutes. He told me not to worry about not being able to eat because there would be food at the place we were heading to.

10:11 A.M. – We arrived at the Sheraton Hotel and thankfully, the briefing for our activity had not started yet. Today’s task was getting one-on-one interviews with three NBA legends and three current NBA players. TJ and I split the interviews for ABS-CBN. He decided to talk to Gary Payton, Khris Middleton and Cedi Osman while I was assigned to converse with George Gervin, Glen Rice and John Collins. I was most excited to talk to Rice because I met him almost two years ago when I hosted an NBA event in Bonifacio Global City for which he as the guest of honor. When Rice was in the Philippines, we were celebrating Filipino Heritage Week and I let him try Taho. I wanted to refresh his memory as soon as I got my opportunity to talk to him.

1:55 P.M. – It was a long wait, but when I finally saw Rice, I immediately smiled at him and said, “I have to show you something.”

“Uh oh! Uh oh!” responded Rice.

I took out my cellphone and showed him a picture of us in the Philippines at the NBA event. He immediately loosened up and started remembering little details about his trip there. When I told him about the Taho he tried, he remembered it being an “interesting drink” and that he was considering “trying to dip Oreos in it”.

We had a good laugh before he spoke to the camera saying, “To all my Filipino Fans: I will be back.”

2:35 P.M. – For the past two days, TJ and I have been talking about eating at a local restaurant called Mac’s Speed Shop, which specializes in authentic Charlotte barbecue. We learned about the restaurant from a native of the city who randomly spoke to TJ and asked where he was from. The conversation led to a query about good food and he recommended this place.

3:39 P.M. – TJ and I left Mac’s Speed Shop feeling stuffed and satisfied. We liked the food so much, we both took home some Red Barbecue Sauce, one of the restaurant’s recipes. It was time to head back to the hotel to rest and get ready for the final event of the weekend – The NBA All-Star Game.

4:39 P.M. – While resting in my hotel room with the TV on, I noticed a familiar figure on the screen. It was Michael Jordan. There was a legends gathering to celebrate his 56th birthday. I thought to myself, “I hope I will get to see him in real life tonight.”

5:50 P.M. – In an effort to get a better view of the court, TJ and I entered the Spectrum Center two hours before tip-off. We were able to get way better seats than we had the two previous days. It was the best possible view any member of the media could get. We were ready to see the stars shine.

8:03 P.M. – Rapper Meek Mill was on stage to open the festivities for the culminating event of the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend. I’ve always watched the pre-game performances of various artists through the years and couldn’t believe that I was finally able to see everything live. And the player introductions. Seeing that was an amazing treat. It was the perfect way to jumpstart the game.

8:56 P.M. – Team Giannis was leading Team LeBron, 47-31 with 56.6 seconds left in the first quarter. I was happy to see Blake Griffin throw down two dunks already, the first one being an alley-oop from Russell Westbrook. It looked like it was going to be an easy win for Team Giannis.

9:25 P.M. – At the half, the score was 95-82 in favor of Team Giannis. I made a quick trip to the bathroom because I wanted to make sure I stayed on my seat in case MJ suddenly showed up. But, halftime would feature a performance by J. Cole.

10:27 P.M. – Team LeBron managed to take the lead from Team Giannis, 132-131 behind the hot shooting of Klay Thompson and Bradley Beal. The players gathered at center court and I though this might be the time The GOAT showed up. Instead, Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade were given framed jerseys to commemorate their final All-Star games.

10:44 P.M. – With 2:52 remaining on the clock, the hosts took center court and the lights around the Spectrum Center began to dim. A few moments later, the logo on the big screen changed, revealing Chicago as the site of next year’s NBA All-Star Game. And then came the moment I have been waiting for.

10:47 P.M. – I thought I heard TJ say something about Michael Jordan finally showing up. There was a commotion happening on one corner of the court.

“Nagpakita na! Nagpakita na!” said TJ.

At that moment, I just lost my composure. My eyes rapidly scanned the court searching for the owner of the Charlotte Hornets franchise. I kept looking… and looking… and looking… until I felt a shot of energy course through my body. There he was. My life Idol. Michael Jordan. Walking to the center of the court to turn-over NBA All-Star hosting responsibilities to Michael Reinsdorf, President and COO of the Chicago Bulls. I’ve been dreaming about seeing Number 23 in real life ever since I was little. It was only fitting that it happened today. On his birthday. At the home court of the team he owns. During my most fulfilling work trip ever.

12:24 A.M. – Most of the fans have already exited the Spectrum Center as TJ and I wrapped up our final spiels for our reports. In my extro, I said I would describe my first NBA All-Star experience as “something to remember for the rest of my life.”

Seeing Michael Jordan, alive and in the flesh was the perfect way to end my basketball pilgrimage. I always used to joke that if ever I see MJ in real life, it would be all right for me to die. But, him hosting me as well as countless others in the 2019 NBA All-Star weekend just gave me a million more reasons to live.

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