Words and photos by: Conrad Tan
I remember vividly at four years old, my brother Dennis putting a basketball in my hands, and as they say, the rest is history. I started to learn on a six-foot-high basketball ring and never did I think it would become a teacher of life. Patience, strategy, fundamentals, practice makes perfect, creativity, teamwork, losing, winning, love.
But an NBA All-Star weekend? This is all about FUN.
It’s only an exhibition game, but if you are basketball junkie, you have to do this at least once in your life. The best basketball players on the planet in the gym. And in 2018, the format was changed. What used to be west coast teams versus east, is now streetball pick ‘em mode. Two highest voters from fans of the eastern and western conference become the de facto team captain, and they choose among other players voted who goes to their team. Old school playground basketball. And, in the 67 years of the All-Star NBA, this is only the 6th time it will be held in Los Angeles where I reside, so I’m in. 🙂
13. Receiving the tickets
I was like a kid getting his box of candies. For anyone that has watched sports or other events like concerts, just seeing the design and material used on these tickets, you instantly know it was something special.
12. Random basketball fans I got to talk with
A 9-year old kid sitting beside me was throwing out names like Moses Malone. In front of us was 3 rows of what it seemed like a company party “thing”. Out of curiosity, I asked one of them what company they are from, come to find out that one of them is Kevin Pritchard, Indiana Pacers President of Basketball Operations. The one who replaced Larry Bird in 2017. The Indiana Pacers owners were in the building probably to check out and see how to prepare for the 2021 NBA All-Star which will be held in Indianapolis. The coolest thing though is they were just like any regular fan, cheering and shouting especially when their boy Victor Oladipo was performing his dunks
11. Watching with family and friends
Yes, THE SWAT was there. You have to make sure the place is safe if you are going to have the best players in the world, team owners, Hollywood actors, and regular Joes like me. Great job Los Angeles
9. Slam Dunk Contest
I have honestly lost interest watching this in the past but watching it live is just a different another experience. Unbelievable. I enjoyed this a lot.
8. Other Team Participations
I only expected LA performers, but other team performers were. I was lucky enough to get a photo with some. Cleveland’s Q-Stix, Dallas’ Maniaacs, and Golden State’s Breakers. Others there was what it seemed like Utah’s cheerleaders and Milwaukee’s Rim Rockers
7. Basketball titans, newscaster, and local performer.
I saw in and around the stadium Laker legend and champions AC Green and Mychal Thompson, Cleveland Cavalier’s champion Kevin Love, Dallas Mavericks’ Dennis Smith Jr., Michael Wilbon who is an ESPN commentator, and the LA Clippers performers.
6. Sneaking into the courtside seats.
NBA G League USA defeats Mexico National Team. Way better watching this from the courtside. Funny thing is, those beside got checked and they were told to leave the seats, but I never got checked. Fake it until you make it.
5. Hollywood Performers
During the halftime shows and anthem ceremony, we witnessed performances from Jaden Smith (Will Smith’s son), Ludacris, Queen Latifah, DJ Khaled, Kevin Hart, Jamie Foxx, Fergie, and Bare Naked Ladies.
4. Activities inside the Staples Center and Los Angeles Convention Center
The Ruffles shootout, American Express Three Points Contest, Verizon shooting contest, and Mountain Dew recycle bottle contest to name some activities.
3. All-Star Game
You knew it was going to be high scoring, and with the new format, you knew somehow it should be close. It was everything you expected from it. Team Lebron won 148-145 on a great defensive finish. Who would have thought about defense in this exhibition game, man it was awesome!!
2. Legends of the game being honored at one of the timeouts
Shaq, Bill, Kareem, Magic, Dr. J.. you don’t need full names of these players.
1. Michael Jordan
As the games were coming to a close, Jeanie Buss and Steve Ballmer, owners of LA Lakers and LA Clippers handed off next year’s all-star responsibilities to Charlotte Hornets’ owner Michael Jordan. This dude is my childhood idol and I never expected I would see him in person, even if he was probably 200 meters from me. I had goosebumps all over and I didn’t know what to think. At least I got a quick photo out of it though.
What a great NBA All-Star 2018. I thought this is my first and last, but who knows, maybe next year I go to Charlotte.
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