Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Holy Crap, All-Stars everywhere, pt. 2

Saturday. On a somewhat serendipitous whim, Curry and I decided to head to the quarter for lunch with a friend (who has the misfortune of working Saturdays). On our walk through downtown, we noticed a surprising amount of people in the streets. The count was nowhere near Mardi Gras numbers, but it was substantial enough to take note of. As we walked past the Sheraton on Canal, who should emerge right in front of us? If you guess Jamario Moon you'd be right. I immediately told him hi and good luck (for the dunk competition) and Curry chimed in about his performance the night before. Not a twenty seconds later (as we cross Canal), Deron Williams passes us by chatting away on his cell phone. At this point, we're flabbergasted. I'm not usually around celebrities (but I do hold my own fine when I am... and I am also aware that Jamario Moon isn't exactly a celebrity), but walking past two fairly well-known players in the span of a minute was pretty cool... even after a night of being in the same building (and sometimes at close distances) to other players, past and present. After lunch we managed to run into Hilton Armstrong (Curry awkwardly high-fived his fist) and I saw Gerald Green cruise by in (no doubt, rented) Explorer. Not a bad run. (I use parentheses too much.)

The next logical step was an afternoon at the levee drinking a gallon of daiquiris. It was great prep time for an evening of beer and All-Star competitions. The individual events themselves were mostly meaningless, but (of course) I do have a few reactions:

1. I hate the Haier shootout thing. Let's agree never to talk about this waste of my life again.

2. D. Wade must feel pretty embarrassed after committing a turnover against a faceless cardboard cutout and then missing multiple layups. This was all made worse by the fact that he's the Skills Competition champ 2 years running.

3. Even though he was eliminated in the first round of the 3-point shootout, Peja hit more buckets than Rip, and that's all I care about.

4. The birthday cake dunk was amazing. The Superman dunk was also amazing, but would have been better had Dwight dunked the ball instead of throwing it in. Jamario Moon's second dunk would have been the most amazing had he practiced it once before attempting it in the competition.

Done and done. Let's move on to Sunday.


Sunday. All-Star day. I had gotten a call the previous day with news that my Dad's buddy had extra tickets for the game and my father and I were next in line. A call Sunday confirmed this (as well as an extra ticket for Curry). I now had a $300 pass to a star-studded, music-filled, skills exhibition. I was officially pumped.

Arriving at the stadium, we grabbed beer and made the trek to our upper-upper level seats. Did I care about such "terrible" seats? Not one iota. When the festivities finally did start, I was screaming like a five year-old. After watching the East get introduced, Kermit Ruffins, a local trumpet legend, swaggered out with his trumpet and played a classic New Orleans tune. (I actually talked with him in a bar the previous week [between sets] but that's another story.) His appearance -- and the subsequent appearance of the West's team -- completely ignited the crowd. First player to be introduced? CP3, ladies and gentlemen. The roof on the arena about blew off when he was announced. In fact, I have zero recollection of the next person introduced because everyone was still yelling. A faint "MVP" chant could even be heard amongst the screaming. Of course, D. West got plenty of props, too.

Smiling faces from as high as 10 feet above sea level.

Fast forward to the game. The first quarter sucked. Yao kept getting posterized (he's softer than me, I think), AI kept passing to his old conference, both teams played sloppy, and the East went up by a gazillion. Second quarter. The West cut the lead to 2 thanks to the remarkable tag-team of CP3 and Brandon Roy. It was at this moment, Curry and I decided to drive to Portland under the cover of night, steal Brandon, and leave a bag of weed and a plate of cookies in his stead... and Rasual Butler.

Halftime. 10 pianos and a jazz ensemble. I love this town. Appearances by Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Art Neville, Harry Connick, Jr., etc. etc. It was fantastic and surreal all at once. I'm pretty sure I'll never be in the same building with as many famous people in my life...

Third quarter. The score stays close; however, the East do go on a run after some sloppy plays by the West. They then record 3 of the most amazing ally-oops I've seen in a long time, including one that changed hands 3 or 4 times before Dwight Howard posterized Yao. On a side note, Yao attempted not 1, but 2 threes... whaaaat? Whose idea was that? He's got good range, but he's not wearing a four-thousand dollar suit... COME ON! Fourth quarter. The first lead change occurs and it looks like CP3 might actually lead the West to a victory (he finished with 16 points, 14 assists). He Roy continue to light it up on both ends of the court. BUT, for whatever reason, Byron leaves Dirk in the game forever which inevitably leads to the 2 plays that clinch the game for the East. 1) D. Wade blocks a Dirk 3 that would have tied the game with less than a minute to go, 2) Dirk (and 3 other members of the West) get posterized by LeBron in (mark my words) the most amazing dunk ever. Forget Superman, LeBron owns this league. At least he will, when Kobe loses his pinkie.

Cool view from the arena... betcha didn't know KG was that tall in person.

And that was it. It was an unbelievably wild ride and it couldn't have happened to this city at a better time. Simmons, Adande, and Hollinger wrote great articles about both the game and the city... and I think everyone's on board. New Orleans is back. It's got a long way to go, but for all intents and purposes, she lives on. And what a way to celebrate it.


Quick follow-up on Sam's most recent comment. I agree with you that Ben Gordon is not a slasher. I foolishly lumped him into the aforementioned category because he has good range, he can drive to the bucket if he has to, and he draws a decent amount of fouls (just under 5 free-throw attempts per game). Given my close following of the Hornets' stats (remember: last in the league in free-throws attempted), anyone who fits Gordon's stat description sounds like a slasher. But alas, it was false. I would still stand by the trade if it were to occur, although the outlook appears bleak.

At any rate, I'll cover the Dallas game tomorrow (before Friday's hosting of Houston). With any luck, I'll be discussing the addition of our new player that will make us reign supreme in awesometown. Until then, ladies and gents, I only have one thing to say: CP34MVP!!!


Just so you know, CP3 went for 31 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds, and 9 steals against Dallas (and J. Kidd) tonight. Just thought I'd whet your appetite. Peace.

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