All-Star Weekend Is Picking Up Steam

via www.amentertainment.com

If an earthquake were to level downtown Los Angeles right now, there would be no more NBA. Everyone - players, coaches, broadcasters, purveyors of Internet snark like yours truly - is here in one place, wandering about and gladhanding in a crazy, half-organized milieu. The players are shuttling between official league meetings and media sessions. Coaches are just kind of making the rounds informally and chewing the fat. The media hordes - and believe me, hordes is the most accurately descriptive term - are hovering everywhere with cameras and microphones, trying to figure out who's worth talking to.

For a n00b such as myself, two things jump out. First is what an enormous freaking operation this is. The league has taken over a section of L.A. that probably spans a good 10 by 10 city blocks. A great deal of it is dedicated to back-office operations, with whole ballrooms taken up by, say, IT personnel or league security. Dozens of league employees do nothing but stand around and tell people where to go. Outside the L.A. Live complex, crews are putting up huge lighting rigs for the "magenta carpet" arrival special on Sunday. The logistical work that goes on behind the scenes is staggering in scope.

The second thing that jumps out is the sheer number of random basketball dudes you run into without even trying. You turn around and it's like, hey, there's Zach Randolph! There's Doc Rivers! James Worthy! David Robinson! And you very quickly get over being starstruck. Within three hours I went from being excited that Landry Fields was answering my questions, to having Rajon Rondo tap me on my shoulder because I was blocking his path as he was navigating a tight room, to standing in a crowded hallway with Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol all within eight feet and actually thinking to myself, "Damn, Dirk... get out of my way. I gotta hit the men's room."

A few other notes and observations from the early Friday action, such as it's been:

  • The rookies and sophomores each had open practices this morning. I missed the sophomores, but here's John Wall looking on as Derrick Favors takes a jumpshot.
  • Wall
  • I got a chance to chat with Chris Webber a bit. I asked him some questions about his time at Michigan as part of the Fab Five, a subject that seemed near and dear to his heart. He told me, in fact, that he's writing a book about the Fab Five. Seemed like a cool dude. And no, I didn't ask him about the timeout.
  • The All-Stars did sit-down photoshoots. I wandered up to Dwyane Wade and took this picture.
  • Wade
  • I also happened to be standing next to Amare Stoudemire as he was changing into a jersey for his photo session. The dude is incredibly ripped. Not as ripped as me, but very ripped.
  • Gheorge Muresan is here for some reason. I saw him chatting up Bill Walton and Kevin McHale in the hotel lobby. It's weird to see someone towering over Bill Walton.
  • I spotted the Shawfather and tried to interview him, but he was busy talking to Tyronn Lue. Yes, even Tyronn Lue is here. And he outranks me in the social hierarchy.
  • This is Pau chilling.
  • Pau

I'll have more for you later today. The most interesting event could be a press conference scheduled for 5:15, at which Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter will address the media about the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations. I'll also have some stuff up over at SBN Los Angeles, so stay tuned.

Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.

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