From LeBron Fan to NBA Influencer: Alyssa Valdez and her NBA All-Star experience
Anton Roxas on Feb 20, 2019 06:30 PM
Alyssa Valdez witnessed he first NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina (Photo courtesy of Alyssa Valdez's Instagram account @alyssa_valdez2).
On July 8, 2010, LeBron James made his infamous decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat. While majority of the world hated this shocking move, one particular teenager from San Juan, Batangas wondered why such a choice made a huge impact in the NBA.
Alyssa Valdez was only 17 years old during the time of “The Decision.” It was because of this that she became interested in how his career would go. And she’s been following LeBron ever since.
“I used to only watch basketball because of my brothers and my Dad. But, when LeBron started playing for Miami, sila nila Dwyane (Wade) and Chris (Bosh), I was into it na,” said Alyssa.
Little did Alyssa know that her admiration for The King would one day take her to Charlotte.
“Gretchen (Ho) was talking to me about the opportunity to go the NBA All-Star weekend. The idea was there but I never thought it would push through. I didn’t plan anything because I was in training. A week before I left, it was confirmed. Siyempre, I was super game to go.”
Since last year, NBA Philippines has been bringing influencers to the NBA All-Star weekend to help promote the sport. Gretchen attended last year’s event in Los Angeles. This year, she pushed for Alyssa to join her and her teammate was more than happy to come along.
Initially, Alyssa, who had already seen LeBron when he went to Manila, was looking forward to seeing him play in an actual game.
“I haven’t seen him (LeBron) play live eh. That’s what I was looking forward to.”
But, what stood out to her was something that she did not expect.
“Super in-enjoy ko talaga was yung Rising Stars. You wouldn’t realize that a lot of them were young individuals who could play like that. Super galing nilang lahat. If I would pick one, I would probably go for (Kyle) Kuzma. Siyempre, crush ko si Luka (Dončić) but Kuzma was the best in that game. Ben Simmons was great in that game too.”
Kuzma, Dončić, and Simmons have an average age of 21 years old. Alyssa was impressed at the abundance of talent they possess.
“I learned a lot from these kids na parang, even if they’re this young, they can prove that they’re something here in the NBA.”
Making the Rising Stars, particularly Kuzma more meaningful to Alysaa was the fact that she actually saw him at one of the Nike events that took place throughout NBA All-Star weekend.
“He (Kuzma) was giving a speech sa mga kids at the Nike ‘Own The Game’ event. Sobrang cool! Tas rine-tweet niya yung post ko.”
Alyssa took a video of Kuzma’s speech and posted it on Twitter which the latter re-tweeted. Now, she also become a fan of his.
In spite of her newfound admiration for Kuzma, LeBron is still Alyssa’s favorite player. In fact, even if Team LeBron was trailing big against Team Giannis in the NBA All-Star Game, she was confident that they would come back and win. “Yeah, I knew LeBron was still going to win!”
However, nothing could prepare Alyssa for the sight of Michael Jordan.
“Oh my God! I’m like, ‘Gretch! That’s Michael Jordan! That’s Michael Jordan! Wala kang masabi. Diba? He made everyone so speechless! Pero grabe, hero talaga siya ng most of the basketball players and athletes right now. Hindi lang siya legend eh. He’s really an icon to look up to. Being there in his presence tas birthday niya pa, you’re just really blessed. He inspired you to be good at what you do also. Kaya it was a nice experience for me.”
She also expressed how thankful she was to experience her first NBA game with fellow NBA Philippines influencer, Gretchen Ho.
“Oh my God. Knowing Gretch, it would be fun naman talaga being with her. Tsaka proud kami sa kanya. It’s always fun to be with your former teammates. Super fun! Super fun! I learned a lot from Gretchen Ho… about make-up!”
WHAT A SHOW 🏀 Scenes from my #NBAALLSTAR Game Fan Experience with @alyssa_valdez2 😱😍😄😭😱 Watch the FULL VIDEO on my IGTV 📺 It was her first time watching the NBA, while it was special for me coming to my MJ’s hometown. Charlotte was on 🔥 FULL vlog also coming up soon 😏 #NBAAllStarGretchen @nba
Along with Alyssa and Gretchen, other influencers included Melodee Morita and Chris Sasaki from Japan and Andovi de Lopez, Ahmad Kemal Palevi, and Jovial da Lopez from Indonesia.
“One thing I really enjoyed in the trip was interacting with other influencers from Indonesia and from Japan. I saw how passionate they are into sports. Na parang, ‘oh my God’, I think I’m really missing out. Kasi, I’m the type of person na ‘yeah, I know this sport.’ But, I don’t really appreciate it as much as volleyball. Now, I’m really into supporting other sports lalo na sa Philippines. Yun, nakakatuwa lang na maka-meet ng mga taong really passionate sa isang sport.”
From idolizing LeBron, Alyssa’s first live NBA experience has opened her mind to new knowledge and ideas about basketball and how it can inspire people all over the world. She now plans to use everything she has learned throughout this trip to continue helping the youth back home to become better individuals through sports.