The NBA All-Star Game

I grew up watching a lot of sports and basketball was always one of my favorites.  We had seasons tickets to the Bullets, now known as the Washington Wizards.  The knowledge of the players was basically that team, Wes Unseld, etc.

All our kids play basketball and I still love going to the games.  The Liberty Games are a bit more exciting these days than the Knicks and I have yet to get out to see the Nets.  So, we were all pretty excited, especially the kids, about seeing the All-Star game this year in Denver. 

Was it the Rookie vs. Sophmore game on Friday night?  Was it the dunk contest?  That is pretty cool.  Was it seeing East vs. West?  East finally won this  year.  I think the most exciting thing is seeing all the star players. 

Shaq strutted in for the Rookie/Sophmore game during the first quarter.  You couldn’t miss him.  The guy is a true natural specimen.  He is huge!  He donned a bowler hat and a black coat over his fine 3 piece suit.  He looked like the king, and in the NBA, he is. 

The Denver arena (that would be the Pepsi Center) is heaven compared to Madison Square Garden.  The place is huge.  3 tiers that have their own separate escalator banks.  Intelligently designed.  The 2nd floor is total club seating.  Nice seats, totally clean, pretty remarkable.  Maybe New York needs to take a lesson from Denver and find a sponsor like Coca-Cola and change the name to the Coca-Cola Center and they could buy the slice of land on the West side highway.  The large corporations such as Delta, Pepsi, Coke – I have lost count of the original arena names – have all the money anyhow – right?  New York – wake up!

The best part of the game for me was Clifford Ray.  I had the sheer luck of sitting next to him.  He had a brace on his lower left leg and so I asked what happened.  The guy is pretty big so I figured he was a retired ball player.  I asked him "did you play ball"?  He was happy to oblige.  Since I knew the Bullets growing up I actually could talk the game a little since he was on the Golden State Warriors 1975 team that crushed the Bullets in 4 games for the NBA champs.  He told me they had "kicked their ass".  It was great. 

His perspective about the game now and the money that is handed out to a 17 year old kid drafted out of high school was interesting.  Clifford has been coaching and scouting since his playing days.  He has been with a variety of teams and is the big man coach.  He was involved in the number one draft pick this year, Dwight Howard who went to play for Orlando, where Clifford is now coaching.  Dwight now is worth about $80M.  Not bad for a 17 year old kid who can play ball and has yet to actually play in a NBA game.  The kid even has a website. 

If any of you know me, you can imagine the questions I asked Clifford.  What did he think about the players now?  Their physical abilities vs. his generation’s physical abilities.  What about the money? He says that the amount that Michael Jordan made is nothing compared to the owners. Kobe Bryant?  The small community? Traveling all the time?  How the top players have become bigger than life stars.  He was wonderful.  He asked me tons of questions too.  It was like being next to someone on an airplane that is happy to share their entire life with you because the chances are they will never see you again. 

I won’t share all of his comments and information but it was really a memorable  night.  Afterwards I made sure all the kids got to meet him and see his NBA Champs ring which even I was thrilled to see.  Also, the guy has huge hands! I’d love to post a picture but I got a new small digital camera which absolutely sucks and is going back today because all the pics are blurry.  More on that later. 

All and all, a really great game.