(Ed. Note: SbB correspondent Tuffy attends the NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix and finds the biggest celebrity watering hole in the desert since Frank Sinatra last visited Palm Springs.)
If Friday is for the kids and Saturday’s the night to enjoy the circus with all its rigging, Sunday is the night to be seen. Industry Night (aka the NBA All-Star Game) is definitely the night of the company picnic, where all the vendors, sponsors, and celebrities all try to get something out of each other.
(NBA China’s Craig Sager made this fan put down his beer before the interview)
A few fans are allowed to rub elbows with the NBA, but it’s mostly the NBA family in attendance. This helps explain the quiet of the crowd; they’re all out on the concourse schmoozing or mustering the energy to make it to the post-game parties to rub elbows and trade business cards.
We sat next to the casting director for the halftime NBA Cares spot and it was all she could do not to spot co-workers on the project or other videos. We tracked people all weekend who could barely muster the strength to attend the arena-based events but rallied to hit the parties. It’s entirely possible only the rubes (like us) actually attended the games.
(”No, no… I was in ‘Hang TIME’. You weren’t too far off with your first guess, though, if you know what I mean. And you do… ladies.”)
Which means the slightly lackluster game itself and the ridiculous waste of text messages involved in the MVP vote (how do you tie in millions of text messages?) left didn’t distract the crowd much from its first duty: spotting the celebrities. Our rough count before our non-celebrity heads ’sploded:
Mike Breen, Snoop Dogg, Brian Grazer, Darryl Dawkins (wearing some kind of dead plastic animal), Scottie Pippen, Bob Lanier, Carlos Zambrano, and Billy King, who is only an NBA celebrity, but that’s a man that needed to bring a stack of business cards with him last weekend.
For the record (and since they wanted the story buried so badly), the two men we didn’t see Sunday were Terry Porter and Steve Kerr, perhaps because Kerr and Suns owner Robert Sarver chose to wait until the start of the All-Star Game itself to dump Porter in the desert, despite denials otherwise. Turn out the lights; the party’s over.
And now a bit of the ol’ photo essay, including some of the people mentioned above and how NHK keeps their ratings high…
NHK’s NBA reporter, clearly picked for her on-court experience.
Pregame. Everyone’s on the concourse because…
… the biggest crowd of the night followed Snoop, who conspicuously didn’t take any of the VIP-approved alleyways. By the way, Snoop’s bodyguard was big enough that I wasn’t sure if his Celtics warmups noted his team allegiance or simply marked Boston’s city limits.
Bob Lanier getting his day in the sun. (Hey, these sun puns don’t write themselves. There’s the copying and then the pasting and we’re already exhausted.)
And then the Heat god is offered a child as sacrifice to keep Pat Riley’s hair young. (By the way, Burnie is standing on a railing in this picture. A woman just handed a mascot on a railing her child for a series of photos. The NBA: Where WTF happens.)