What better way to celebrate the GOAT’s 50th birthday than to watch the best players in the world take turns dunking on each other? The midseason classic is here, the NBA All-Star Game, and I’ll be here all night live blogging the proceedings from inside of the Toyota Center in Houston. I’m talking celebrity sightings, behind-the-scenes looks at all of the ins and outs, and yes, a little basketball too.
There’s definitely an all-star feel in the building though. Last night, there were no problems getting over to the arena, and then I sat myself right next to the media dining and got down to business like I was Chuck on a hangover. Tonight? I took the metro over, and there were a dozen kids filming a music video on the bus. They looked like Nate Robinson after a 5-hour Energy. Then I got into the media area, and you couldn’t walk, could barely move. The energy is here. Now let’s hope the game lives up to the billing.
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6:48 CT: So I hear I missed the Ke$ha performance? Damn it! I was so looking forward to watching a chick dressed up as Jesus with background dancers dressed up as Siberian Tigers.
6:58 CT: A few minutes ago, Dwight Howard made a half-court shot before walking off for the locker room (a good start to his night). Kobe wasn’t out on the floor scolding Superman, so the big man took advantage of the opportunity. You know he’s been waiting all year for that chance to bust out his patented midcourt shots.
7:02 CT: Earlier today, I stopped over to the Skullcandy suite to check out their new products (I Instragrammed a few photos). Besides getting a customized Dime Magazine pair of headphones (one of only five, I’d say the highlight was watching Kyrie Irving come charging in and immediately taking over the ping-pong table. So you’re telling me he can drop Brandon Knight, defeat the Red Rocket in a Three-Point Shootout, AND dominate in table tennis? Did he lead the search for Christopher Dorner too?
Also seen in the suite: Terrence Ross realizing there was an opportunity to play 2K13, and completely forgetting about all of the media, the ice cream sundaes and the headphones.
7:13 CT: The West All-Stars were just introduced a few minutes ago, and they came out to T.I.‘s “Bring Em Out.” For like a two year span about seven or eight years ago, that was a requirement for every high school pregame mix. If you didn’t have it on there, you probably lived in Maine.
7:17 CT: Question on Twitter posed to me by @kylebelanger1: “Over/Under 23.5: Number of times @Jumpman23 “Jordan” is said during the #NBA #AllStarGame broadcast tonight.” That’s a tough one. A better over/under would be how animals were killed to make Craig Sager‘s suit?
7:29 CT: Great Eastern Conference introductions so far. I’m directly behind the stage, which means I’m looking at a bunch of wires and smoke. Let me know: it that better than watching Ne-Yo pretend it’s 2006?
7:34 CT: CRAZY technical difficulties going on inside of the Toyota Center. I think Rick Ross just accidently sat down on top of all of the Internet wires.
7:36 CT: These are some pretty wild introductions, but none of them top James White being introduced as “Flight” last night.
7:44 CT: I really think Drake is just trolling us all at this point. Out here hardcore singing the Canadian National Anthem. I mean, damn, the dude was rocking some freakin’ Gucci leather sweatpants last night, looking like Russell Westbrook‘s inspiration.
7:45 CT: Speaking of Russ West, here’s his game outfit. C’mon son. Looking like a millionaire Steve Urkel.
7:51 CT: Early favorite for tweet of the night from @GinoTheGhost: “Drake looking up at the Canadian flag as if Aaliyah descended on a golden unicorn butt naked”
7:56 CT: LeBron just got the real first great highlight: catching a lob off the glass. Drake, in his courtside seat, nearly had a seizure.
7:57 CT: On the other side, Chris Paul is running a clinic out here. Now you see why everyone wants to play with this dude. Dude drops dimes like a bank.
7:59 CT: Gregg Popovich is getting Tim Duncan and Tony Parker in there early so he “rest” them for the final three quarters.
8:02 CT: We’re in a timeout, so it’s a good time to fill you in on how I spent my morning: playing in the new Air Jordan XX8s with guys like Stalley, Wale, DJ Clue and Trinidad Jame$. First of all, the sneakers are incredible. You feel like you’re floating. I was jumping like this was 2004 and I was back in high school. And you gotta see them in person to really appreciate them. I know it’s easy to say that for any shoe, but it definitely applies to the XX8. Action is about to start up, so I’ll give you my rapper scouting report later on tonight…
8:07 CT: Chris Bosh was thisclose to shooting his second airball of the night. The first boos are raining down on him.
8:10 CT: Okay, another timeout. Back to my rapper scouting report. DJ Clue isn’t bad, but he doesn’t really pass and always seems like he’s in a haze. Wale is solid, has a lot of street in his game. But the real gems are Trinidad Jame$ (surprisingly) and Stalley. Trinidad has a nice little pull-up, he can handle it, and he can move. Plus, he passes, so for a guy like me who was on his team, I had to love him. Normally, celebrities pass the ball as often as Kobe. But Stalley is definitely the best – like, he can really play. If you saw him in the gym, you might think, “Hey that dude is a nice ballplayer” rather than “OMG! A famous rapper! Let me get his autograph and a super awkward picture!”
8:16 CT: Luol Deng and Paul George are out here building the Yellow Brick Road. Let’s get more Kyrie Irving dribbling around and making people look stupid, while Joakim Noah leads fast breaks and pretends to be a point guard. It’s the end of the first quarter, and the West has a 31-26 lead.
8:20 CT: Celebrity watch: we have Hakeem and Yao Ming being best buddies in the front row. There’s Drake, of course, and as the night’s MC put it, “there’sJ.Colerightnextohimokay.” Jay-Z and Beyonce have also made an appearance, which happened once during the National Anthem and a bunch of buffoons right behind the media section started screaming and yelling. Thankfully, security put them back in their cages.
8:24 CT: Kyrie Irving is out here taking names and ankles. As if you expected anything different…
8:25 CT: Paul George is definitely not shy about getting shots up. He’s shot it nearly every time he’s touched it. In the meantime, Jrue Holiday just caught a nasty left-handed dunk, again backing me up when I say I think he’s one of the best off-hand finishers in the NBA.
8:28 CT: Okay, remember the little kid reporters I talked about last night? Yeah, they were just back again on the JumboTron. The best question was: “Does Kevin Garnett‘s head look like an M&M or a Milk Dud?” KG said he would go with a Milk Dud because M&Ms melt. The little girl reporter said, “Well, your head does look kind of glossy right now.” I’m weak with laughter. Perfect execution.
8:34 CT: They continue to pump out hilarious content on the JumboTron with the NBA players, and if you didn’t realize it yet by all of his Kia commercials, Blake Griffin is hilarious. He’s probably the funniest dude in this game, at least when he’s not catching lobs from CP3 and putting his entire arm through the rim.
8:39 CT: Dwight Howard is almost playing as hard in the All-Star Game than he has all year for the Lakers. That’s not a good thing… since he’s moving less than Jabba The Hutt right now.
8:42 CT: Blake Griffin just caught a double-lob from CP3 and Kobe. That’s what, his fifth alley-oop finish in the first half?
8:46 CT: Dwyane Wade is really out here complaining calls. I’m talking he’s out near midcourt having an animated conference with the zebras. You gotta at least give D-Whistle credit for putting in the work ahead of time. Also, they were running a celebrity sighting on the JumboTron before that, and came with Usain Bolt, Gabby Douglas (both of them got long cheers), and then Nick Cannon (straight crickets).
8:49 CT: Tony Parker just put it through Chris Bosh’s legs (the second time that’s happened tonight). This came right after Bosh got booed for conceding a layup for CP3 to take away the lob. He’s not having a very good night.
8:51 CT: It’s a wrap for the first half. The West still leads, 69-65.