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kriD
02-18-2006, 09:46 AM
All-Star hoopla about much more than hoops

Kobe shares stage with Nelly as NBA makes Houston party central

By DAVID MOORE / The Dallas Morning News

HOUSTON Those who cling to the antiquated notion that the purpose of the NBA All-Star Game is to showcase the league's best players, to shine the spotlight on their talents, have probably never heard of Chamillionaire or Lil' Flip.

And wait, isn't that Eva Longoria?

No one calls this the All-Star Game anymore. The game is simply an excuse to assemble as many fans, media and cool people not that the three are mutually exclusive in the same city for an extended celebration. It has evolved into All-Star Weekend, an event that is more about marketing and partying than it is competition.

"The game is a big focal point, obviously," said the Mavericks' Avery Johnson, who will coach the West team. "You still have a lot of stars there, but it's changed quite a bit."

It's changed because not all of the stars are in the game. They're throwing launch parties, which is what Michael Jordan did Friday night to unveil his new shoe, the Air Jordan XXI. There are red carpet events, private affairs, benefits and corporate gatherings.

There is Bow Wow, Nelly, Nick Cannon and Chris Brown performing at the All-Star Jam Session, the league's theme park for fans and celebrity sightings at The Galleria.

Houston is the place to see and be seen. It's where people go to conduct business and kick back. If you're not in Houston this weekend, you're not a serious player on or off the court.

The weekend is a guilty pleasure and a necessity. It's the ultimate in sensory overload.

"It's definitely a showcase for the players, but more so it's become a showcase for fans," Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said. "During the day, it's an NBA amusement park for kids. We are taking nieces, friends, kids and family.

"At night, it's really becoming the world's greatest post-college party. The majority of people there have very little to do with the corporate side. The All-Star Game has become a party planner's paradise. Every major party thrower from around the country comes for this weekend, which leads to gridlock, fun and lots of lines."

The game itself remains relevant. Ratings put it after baseball's All-Star Game, which determines home-field advantage in the World Series. But there has been a competitive shift.

Johnson was watching a replay of the 1986 All-Star Game at Reunion Arena the other day and was struck by the difference in play.

"In my opinion, looking at that game and looking at some of our recent All-Star games, the game was much more serious," Johnson said. "Now, they still scored a lot of points. But the games were a little bit more physical from what I can tell."

Johnson isn't alone on this. The rookie game in Los Angeles two years ago degenerated into a dunk contest that had Hall of Fame guard Jerry West and others decrying what the weekend had become.

"From the opening minutes, they all wanted to kick your butts," New York coach Larry Brown said of All-Star Games past. "Now, they throw it off the board, everything is a fast break, everything is degree of difficulty.

"I hate the game. I love the reward and I love the fact that coaches select seven players on each team and the fans are involved, but the game really turns me off now. It's not a game, and that bothers me."

It's so much more than a game. The word commissioner David Stern likes to use is celebration.

There was a time when Stern had to call the editors of sports sections around the country and beg them to send reporters to the game. You could fit the owners, players, media, members of the NBA office and guests all in the same hotel.

And now? Those people are spread over 25 hotels in Houston, and the league still came up 100 rooms short.

The first All-Star Game that Stern attended 30 years ago was in the middle of the week in Philadelphia. Bill Cosby was the entertainment. Destiny's Child, Grammy-winner John Legend and American Idol's Carrie Underwood are scheduled to perform Sunday. And that's just for the game itself.

The All-Star Jam Session is spread over 450,000 square feet at George R. Brown Convention Center.

"I think people are just now at the cusp of realizing that this has become the biggest party weekend, not just of any sport, but of any event at all in the U.S.," Cuban said. "More people fly, drive and probably walk to the destination city without any intention of seeing the game, just to have fun and go to the hundreds of parties that happen all weekend.

"I get more party ticket requests from people who are not really basketball fans for this event than I get for movie premieres, the Oscars, you name it."

Seattle's Ray Allen, appearing in his sixth All-Star Game, said the obligations to fans, sponsors and the media during the weekend are overwhelming. It's a working holiday without the holiday.

"The family enjoys it more than the players," Allen said. "If you go around and try to chase the parties and the events, then you're going to drive yourself crazy. And in the second half of the season, you're going to be very tired. You have to approach it as a business.

"What the league has now done, they are trying to partner up their players with different marketers and sponsors so they can make sure their players are being shown in a positive light."

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant talks about All-Star Weekend in terms of expanding the game globally.

"This is Generation Next coming up to see the game, appreciate the game and know what it's about," Bryant said.

It's about a lot more than it used to be.

Murphy3
02-18-2006, 12:11 PM
The NBA all star game is an embarrassment...
It makes me ashamed to be a fan of the league.

alby
02-19-2006, 07:02 AM
So when is it coming to Dallas?

Can you guys imagine the game next year in Sincity?? wow

orangedays
02-19-2006, 10:24 AM
So when is it coming to Dallas?

Can you guys imagine the game next year in Sincity?? wow

It'll come when one of the 3 happens:

1) The NBA makes concessions and allows all 14,000 Mavs season ticket holders to come to the game, gratis.
2) Cubes is no longer owner of the team.
3) The NBA decides to host the All-Star game by itself, a la the most recent L.A. game.

Haha, and with regards to Vegas...I think we might see our first All-Star game where players are M.I.A. because they're passed out in enormous party suite.

alby
02-19-2006, 12:05 PM
It'll come when one of the 3 happens:

1) The NBA makes concessions and allows all 14,000 Mavs season ticket holders to come to the game, gratis.
2) Cubes is no longer owner of the team.
3) The NBA decides to host the All-Star game by itself, a la the most recent L.A. game.

Haha, and with regards to Vegas...I think we might see our first All-Star game where players are M.I.A. because they're passed out in enormous party suite.

yeah I just read that article in the mavs section
nhl coming in 2007 though, thats great

Murphy3
02-19-2006, 01:15 PM
The All-Star game needs to get AIDs and die..
Here HIVy, HIVy, HIVy......