Admittedly, I've never been to an All-Star event, definitely not as a member of the media, but one thing is for sure: this isn't a weeknight Rockets game. Players, celebrities and media descended on downtown Houston for All-Star weekend 2013 and filled every square inch of space in the Toyota Center, George R. Brown Convention Center and Hilton Americas Hotel.
The NBA runs a remarkably tight ship and I saw nary a significant issue as I wandered around from event to event, press conference to press conference. But it's a tad surreal when you run into TNT's Craig Sager on the stairs or LeBron James in the hallway.
Rising Stars Swarmed The morning's first media session was with the "Rising Stars," a mix of sophomore and rookie players that hit the floor Friday night. As they filed into the loading area, the conglomeration of media from across the globe got right up in their faces. I took a moment to talk with Rockets forward Chandler Parsons, who got the funniest questions from the Asian media contingent.
For those who aren't around it, the Asian media spend an inordinate amount of time asking questions about Jeremy Lin, which makes sense, but also makes for some humorous moments. One asked if he and Lin were friends. Parsons responded politely -- all the NBA players know exactly how to answer questions without giving up more than they need too. But when pressed if Lin was his "best friend," Parsons responded, "Oh, yes, we are the bestest of friends," eliciting a laugh from everyone including the questioner, but not as much as the "Did you have a nice Valentine's Day with Jeremy?" question did.
Hall of Wow For a basketball fan, it is hard to explain what it is like to stand in a room with some of the greatest players ever to play the game. But to give some perspective, when other players ooh and ah, you know there are some heavyweights nearby. In a packed meeting room in at the Hilton the NBA Hall of Fame finalists were announced including Mitch Richmond, Gary Payton and Tim Hardaway.
On stage were a collection of Hall of Fame players including Artis Gilmore, Bob Lanier, Dominique Wilkins, Earl Monroe and former Rockets Rick Barry, Calvin Murphy and Clyde Drexler.
Payton told the gathered media afterwards that he was honored to be a finalist and that he won't trash talk the finalists until he wins. When asked about his battles with the Rockets in the playoffs in the early `90s, he said they got the better of the Rockets.
"We knew how to play them [defensively]," he said. "Our defense was really intense."
Remembering It All Besides knowing how to answer every question well, one remarkable thing about players, particularly the older ones, is how much they remember about their playing days.
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"You remember almost everything," former Rocket Robert Horry said. But what seems to stand out more than anything are the struggles.
It has been said the difference between the great players and the good ones is that the great players hate to lose more than they love to win.
Or as Drexler put it, "I remember the shots I missed more than the ones I made."