By Leland Stein III –
The NBA All-Star Weekend is a festival for the fans and is an interactive smorgasbord of celebrity sightings, parties, the Jam Session for the youth, three-point and slam dunk contest, and, oh yes, there is the game.
With this year’s NBA All-Star Week in Los Angeles, the Hollywood flavor was in full affect.
It seemed to me that every rapper, musicians and movie stars was at one of the many NBA All-Star Week events.
I’ve seen this All-Star week evolve over 17 years and it seems to keep getting bigger and bigger, no matter that many in the media enjoys singing the woe is the league song concerning their interaction with their players.
Having covered Super Bowls and MLB, none of the other sports come close to have the celebrities attach themselves to the sport. I’m sure the face time that comes with being in a intimate arena versus large stadiums have something to do with it, but many that I interviewed ready know the game and genuinely like basketball.
Only boxing at the high championship level even comes close to attracting the celebrities to its marquee events.
I sighted at Staples Center Maria Shriver and son Christopher Schwarzenegger. Also in the house were Rhianna, Justin Bieber, Lenny Kravitz, Josh Groban, Keri Hilson, George Lopez, Steven Tyler, Dustin Hoffman, P. Diddy Jason Sudeikis, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Snoop, Venus Williams, Run DMC, Common, Zachary Levi, Piers Morgan, Gabrielle Union, Chris Tucker, Steve Harvey, Rob Reiner, Michael Rappaport, Jack Nicholson, and JZ and Beyounce, just to mention a few I saw.
It was also great to see the NBA honor at halftime three of the greatest female basketball players ever.
They were brought to center court and looked beautiful. WNBA Legends Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson are all Olympians also.
All four Boston Celtic All-Stars were booed mightily all game long, but when Hall of Famer Bill Russell was brought to center court during the game, he received a standing ovation for becoming the first NBA player to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
I was shocked by the Slam Dunk Contest. The four young men Washington Wizards 7-footer JaVale McGee, Clippers rookie Blake Griffin, DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors and Oklahoma City Thunder Serge Ibaka were all spectacular.
Any one of the three could have won the slam dunk contest. The first round everyone put up some of the most creative dunks I have seen in attempted.
I know I’m getting old when one of the Lady’s I use to cover while she was at USC and in the WNBA had her son participate in the event.
Not only did her son a compete, JaVale in my mind produced the most crazy dunks I have ever seen.
Dunking on two separate baskets and then throwing down three basketballs . . . all I could saw was, “Wow!”
And that is not to say that winner Griffin did not wreck shop, because he did. He soared, flew, spun and powered the ball down through the basket. He hung on the rim by his elbow and he dunked over a car. Griffin has posterized a number of players this season, but this time it was a car. Jumping over the hood he took a lob through the sun roof from Clippers teammate Baron Davis and produced the winning slam.
A couple days before the game the 2011 BBVA NBA All-Star Celebrity Game was contested.
Bieber, along with rappers Romeo, Common, Kim Kardashian’s brother, Rob Kardashian, Trey Songz, Rappaport and Nick Cannon, took part in the exhibition.
The game was between the Eastern Conference and Western Conference. The West was Bieber’s team, coached by Magic Johnson.
The Eastern team was coached by Bill Walton. Basketball superstars Scottie Pippen, Bill Walton, Rick Fox, Jalen Rose, Mitch Richmond, Chris Mullin and Swin Cash played in the game.
The western team lost in a final score of 54-49, but that didn’t stop 16-year-old Justin Bieber from being named MVP. His legion of fans voted him MVP. “I know Pippen was the MVP,” Bieber said.
“My fans are crazy and they got online and voted. We all were just having a good time.”
Leland S tein III can be reached at email@example.com.