Page 3: Back From All-Star Weekend
8:32 AM EST on February 18, 2010
("Why Your City Sucks" returns next week with Weatherford. Remember, send in any thoughts to email@example.com)
The two coolest things about going to All-Star Weekend as credentialed media: 1) Getting to see and talk to whoever you like, wherever you like and 2) Getting to pretend you're important.
I know I'm not important. I know I'm not big time. But for those three days, you can kind of get to think you are. For instance, one of my favorite things from the entire weekend was just eating a media dinner with other writers. And since I'm kind of part of the ESPN crew, I'm sitting there with Henry Abbott, John Hollinger, Marc Stein and others. Oh no big deal. Just chatting with my buddy MARC STEIN.
I left on Friday afternoon, a day after the blizzard passed through. I had no issues getting to Dallas, yet EVERY SINGLE PERSON asked if I made it down alright. No guys, I died in a fiery car accident over the Red River. Of course I made it down alright. But my first order of business was getting my credentials. Which let me tell you, is one of the most terrifying things ever. I covered a lot of things in college where I'd have to pick up credentials. It's like when you have tickets at Will Call. What if? What if they don't have my name? What if I didn't get credentials? What if they don't care? Where do I go? What do I do? You hand the guy your driver's license, he flips through some envelopes and voila, here's your press pass. See, nothing to worry about.
And once you had that plastic card around your neck, you could darn near go anywhere you liked. I think if I flashed it to a security guard I could have ran out and launched a 3 during the Rookie/Sophomore Game actually. I was in locker rooms, interview areas, bathrooms with players, media dining areas, on the court after games and practices. You name it, I got to stand there.
One thing I wrote on Daily Thunder was how wild it was seeing some folks up close and personal. But nobody really starstruck me. LeBron shot jumpers three feet in front of me and it didn't seem like a big deal. Kobe answered questions just to my left"¦ no sweat. Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Tim Duncan all were standing near me talking "“ I didn't think much of it. But when David Stern walked by me Friday night, I felt like a 13-year-old girl spotting Robert Pattinson. OH MY GAH OH MY GAH OH MY GAH. It's not that Stern is a celebrity or something. It's just that he's DAVID STERN. He's important. And intimidating.
(The other guy that made me stop and go, "HEY THAT'S"¦!" was Kevin Garnett. I don't really know why but he's kind of struck me. Probably because he's so scary and intimidating. I felt like if I made direct eye contact he was going to grab me and shake me until I passed out as he berated me with the most vulgar language you could imagine.)
One interesting thing is just how much international media there is attending. I couldn't begin to estimate the number for the overall media, but the majority of it is from other countries. And they're semi crazy too. I saw media members asking for autographs, asking for pictures and asking for shoutouts on their cell phones. My journalism professors at OU just threw up.
Oh, and speaking of media, you've got to love "˜em. Not only are they going ballistic to get their story, get a quote or get a picture, they are required by law to ask inane, brainless questions. I specifically remember one guy asking James Harden after the Rookie game, which if you don't know is basically nothing more than a meaningless pickup game, "What can you take from this game as you get ready for the second half?" Um, bad defense, lazy passing and poor fundamentals? These are the types of questions you hear when reporters HAVE to get a quote for the nightly news/paper the next morning. And I love hearing them asked.
But honestly, Oklahoma media put a pretty large dent in the overall number. I would venture to guess that Oklahoma sent as much or more media down than any other specific city. Seriously. That was the first thing Henry Abbott said to me. "How many people cover the Thunder in Oklahoma? There's like 50 people here!" And in general, Oklahomans traveled extremely well to Dallas. I saw Thunder jerseys everywhere. At the HORSE competition, the place was packed with OKC fans. At the All-Star Game, there was a tent and tailgate sort of thing set up and a bunch of Thunder fans gathered there. It was extremely impressive to see the response to it.
By the time Sunday's game rolled around, it was essentially window dressing. I showed up to the stadium early and was lucky enough to see Shakira rehearse and then Usher rehearse. I say "lucky enough," but I really mean, "It was kind of neat to see." But I could watch Usher sing "More" 500 or 600 times. It's likely it's the catchiest song ever in history. And the plastering of Shakira's butt across the giant scoreboard for 10 seconds straight was something you truly had to see in person. After those rehearsals, I mainly just milled around, looking to see David Stern a second time and also hunting Tony Romo to tell him he sucks. Alas, no luck. But Jerry Jones was and when he walked up and had a conversation with a guy standing right next to me, I of course took a picture of him, as he awkwardly glanced at me while I took it.
Overall, I could go on for thousands, upon thousands of words about All-Star Weekend. Like I said, being there is one thing, but being there around the players, coaches and other media is something else. I now get what they mean by "media circus." There is just no other way to describe it. And when you get inside the horde, evidently you have a chance of getting your face on the front page of ESPN.com (guy on the far right in the above picture). It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and by far the best All-Star Game I've ever been to. Then again, it's the ONLY All-Star Game I've ever been to, so there.
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