Each year, celebrities from all over flock to NBA All-Star Weekend. The courtside seats on Saturday and Sunday night are a veritable who’s who of the entertainment and music industry, with many who return year after year.
There may be no more ubiquitous presence at All-Star Weekend than Guy Fieri. The chef, restaurateur, and TV host is a staple of All-Star, an ever-present fixture courtside at the various events and popping up at the most exclusive parties of the weekend. Fieri, a massive Warriors fan, took his All-Star Weekend participation to a new level this year by taking on the role of assistant coach for Stephen A. Smith’s squad in the 2020 All-Star Celebrity Game.
Prior to his coaching debut, Fieri spoke with Dime about his love for hoops, the moment his Warriors fandom was taken to a new level, why he’s always recruiting people to come to the All-Star Game, and who he’d be looking to imitate in his coaching debut. But first, we got his thoughts on the Warriors newest piece in Andrew Wiggins.
Dime: I want to start with a little Warriors talk. What were your thoughts on the big trade getting Wiggins for D-Lo?
Guy Fieri: Someone came up and told me and I said, ‘No no no no no. That didn’t happen,’ and they said it really did happen. I didn’t have a lot of radar on Wiggins, I gotta be honest I don’t have a lot of — my son does, my son Ryder is dialed into everything. ‘When’s your book report due?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘When did you know the Wiggins trade is going to happen?’ ‘Oh they’ve been talking about it for…’ So I love getting the information second hand, but I think it’s great. I mean the way he came out, what 27 points in the first game, 24 in the second game. He comes in, real nice guy, seems level-headed and balance and fit right into the organization.
You know we’re all in a holding pattern right now to wait to see what happens, but I think the team’s done great. I’ve made it out to a few games this year and I love the enthusiasm. I love seeing Klay there. I love seeing Steph. The team’s fired up and we’ve had a couple close calls, and if that’s what’s going on right now at the age we’re at and the situation we’ve been facing, Draymond’s been a great leader, it’s going to be a really interesting second half.
Do you have a favorite story with any the Warriors guys or a favorite moment that you got to spend with Steph or Klay or Dray or the team as a whole?
Well it’s one of the saddest stories ever and it was when I really — I was always a Warriors fan growing up in northern California, it was always something where you were just a Warriors fan. I lived in northern California, I was about four hours north of San Francisco. It’s a real sad story, but it’s a wonderful story. My little sister passed away nine years ago. So my sister passed away nine years ago and before she passed away, we had these tickets for my nephew to go to the Warriors game, and she passes away and a week later we have these tickets to go see the game. So, we go to the game. My nephew — who’s with me tonight, first time he’s ever been to NBA All-Star — so we go and he’s 10 or 11 at the time, and we go to the game and I knew a few folks at the Warriors organization and I told them the story. The story kinda spread through everybody and as it got closer to game time they said, ‘We want to talk to you. This is what we want to do.’
They brought my nephew at 10 years old out with all of the players as the sixth man. And it was…I have it on video and the lights are going off, and he’s still so desensitized from losing his mom that it was a really tough week, but we always have that sentimental moment. The Warriors are such a close knit family. We’re northern California. We’re small community. We’re very in touch. I could tell you a bunch of stories. I’ve got great stories of Steph interacting with my kids, but it’s not just me and my family, I watch how the whole team embraces the community and especially when we were in Oakland, it was much more intimate then. There’s just story after story after story, but to honor my little nephew at that time and to see — it was a great, what would you call it, a distraction? — it took him away from his pain for the moment. And the fact that the Warriors did that, and they didn’t know us very well, was really awesome.
You’ve kind of become the king of All-Star, man. I’ve been doing this since 2014 and you’re everywhere.
I love it. We look so forward to it, and we had enough trials and tribulations trying to make it here [to Chicago] that it was crazy — cause we live in California. So we left the house at 4, got to the airport, flew out and left at 5, so it was a little bit of a journey, but so worth it. Excited.
Do you have a favorite All-Star memory?
You know everything at my age turns into being about my kids, and I remember the second time we came to the All-Stars they invited my son Ryder to be a ball boy. So here comes Ryder, they come and grab him, and they’re like, ‘we got him, we’ll give him back this evening after the game.’ And they take him off and he kinda looks at me, and I’m like, ‘you’re gonna be great dude! Have a blast.’ How old was he? Eight, nine years old. He comes running out, he’s got the plastic card on with his picture on there. He’s got a brand new sweatsuit. He’s got new shoes on. He’s got a ball cap. I mean, his eyes were just — he was glowing. Grinning from ear to ear.
This is something I tell folks all the time. I love sporting events — any kind of sports. When you see people playing the best at the sport and you get to be around that, even if you don’t understand that sport all that well or you can play it that well, you can appreciate it and embrace it. And when you come to this, this is the biggest, most intimate sporting event I think you can get a chance to see. You get to see your favorite players. You get to see all the energy around it. You get to see all the celebrities, because everybody loves basketball because everybody can appreciate basketball. It doesn’t matter who you are and where you’re from, basketball is everybody’s sport. If you haven’t been, you’ve gotta come. I recruit new people every year, I bet you I bring 10 new people I ask to come because I tell them they have to check it out.
You’re coaching today as assistant coach in the Celebrity Game. Who is your coaching idol and what’s the philosophy?
Bobby Knight [laughs]
Are we gonna see a chair?!
Listen! You don’t know what’s coming. I don’t know what’s going to take place. Someone might get thrown out of the game. Someone might get a technical. I think I’ll do my job if I get a technical tonight.
One last one. If Flavortown had a basketball team, what would be the mascot?
The Big Dunker [laughs]