Kiki’s NBA Cuts: Inside All-Star Weekend

What goes on in and around NBA All-Star game weekend is always special and memorable. The fans all get to see great dunks, long three pointers and skills mere mortals can only dream of. But there are a series of events and parties around the clock all weekend that most do not.

The NBA has a program called NBA Cares; it is a community outreach program across all the cities in the NBA. Nothing exemplifies the spirit of the program more than All-Star weekend. Many school programs and appearances happened throughout the weekend. Libraries and playgrounds are donated to those children that can’t afford it. Rebuilding communities and giving back to fans that give so much to the game is a priority throughout the NBA.

The NBA All-Star jam session is a four-day celebration for children and adults alike love the game of basketball. Taking place in the entire convention center, it has games and interactive activities, demonstrating the latest technologies. Celebrity and legends of the game are commonplace sightings and the NBA provides educational activities throughout the weekend. Amongst kids of all ages this is one of the hottest tickets of the weekend.

There are parties throughout the weekend and yes, you could call the whole week a party celebrating the greatness of the game.

My first stop following All-Star Saturday night was the Commissioner’s reception, a very hard ticket to get. Here, people who run the game, owners, general managers, presidents and celebrities of all walks of life, come out to pay their respects to the greatest commissioner a sport has ever had, David J. Stern.

After the Commissioner’s reception, I attended the NBA China celebration of the Chinese New Year. It was at the Petroleum Club, which holds a commanding view above the entire city of Houston. Yao Ming and the many business leaders from both China and the United States were in attendance. After a beautiful Lion Dance, David Stern amongst others gave a tremendous tribute to China and its wonderful culture. By the way the food was the best of the entire weekend.

Then I went to the NBA Africa party. This was a lively celebration of African culture and the special relationship that the NBA has developed with the people, especially children in the countries of Africa. From there I made a quick stop to the NBA on TNT party at the House of Blues. It was jam-packed and rocking as you might expect. Luckily this was just a half block from my hotel but when I left the party was still in full swing.

On Sunday morning I attended the 14th annual NBA Legends Brunch. This is a very special event and the highlight of All-Star weekend. Many of the game’s greats, incidentally all heroes of mine, were in attendance. I still can’t believe that I am among them, and that they actually know who I am, let alone that I call most close friends. It is still amazing that I can talk to George Iceman Gervin, Bill Russell, Ervin Magic Johnson or Spencer Haywood all in one room at one time. The brunch honored the greats from the Houston area, again all close friends. Hakeem Olajuwon, Yao Ming, Dikembe A. Mutombo, Robert Horry, Rudy Tomjanovich, Calvin Murphy and Clyde Drexler all were honorees.

All this and the game hadn’t even started yet. It has been a great weekend and none of us want it to end.

Predictions
Those of you who read my article on Friday realize that I made predictions for each and every event during All-Star weekend. Up until this point my record is perfect. I have not got one prediction right! Oh well, it just goes to show you the greatness that is spread across all participants. That is what I would like to think at least.

It is time to go to the main event, the All-Star game. It was almost 30 years ago when I played in my first All-Star game; David Stern was just taking over as commissioner of the NBA. We had a banquet, a dunk contest and then the game. At the time, all of us thought it was the most special thing ever. We had no idea how far this game was going to come.

It is a tribute to one man’s vision and hard work. Many of us have grand ideas and fail to put the work in to make them happen. That is certainly not true of this man.

This is David Stern’s last All-Star game as Commissioner of the NBA. What a ride!  From all of us who have benefited from your brilliance and lucky enough to call you friend, thank you Commissioner Stern.

Note: Kiki snapped his prediction losing streak on Sunday evening, correctly choosing the West to top the East in the All-Star game.