The league’s decision to make both Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center All-Star Weekend hosting venues was a great one. Visiting fans and reporters not only got a chance to take in everything that makes Manhattan one of the world’s greatest cities, but also gain a better understanding of why Brooklyn is an ever-growing hub of activity.
Buses for media to and from playing venues were frequent, and the subways were largely clear, even right before events, when in years’ past there was a crush that could stagnate transport. Even with Fashion Week in town at the same time, fans and media got to experience a well-rounded experience of the entire city, which was a lot more dynamic than if it had been housed exclusively in a single borough.
NYC’s already primed public transport worked seamlessly with so many people, so it just felt like another day in the City even though it was anything but.
We wrote about the 2015 NBA All-Star uniforms already when adidas unveiled them, but they were so well put together they had to make our list. Yes, the players wore them on the court, but it’s not directly about the basketball we witnessed over the last three days. Aesthetically, it falls in line with the simple, basketball for basketball’s sake ethos adidas did a great job highlighting for this year’s event.
Here’s how adidas included all five boroughs in their understated, but effective star design:
Queens: a pattern inspired by the stainless steel orbit rings of the borough’s iconic Unisphere that was built for the 1964 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows – Corona Park
Staten Island: a wave pattern to signify its surrounding waters
Manhattan: a taxi-cab checkered pattern represents the pace and energy of the world’s most cosmopolitan city
The Bronx: a vinyl record pattern to pay homage to the birthplace of hip-hop and the rich musical legacy of New York City
Brooklyn: a brick pattern inspired by the iconic brownstone houses and buildings that make up the neighborhoods of the city’s most populous borough
The subway map might not directly align with New York’s actual subway, but as a native New Yorker, complaining about this discrepancy ignores the fact it looks pretty cool. It’s an excellent way of integrating an iconic image encompassing all of New York into the event logo.
There’s so much going on in New York City, with so many eclectic tastes and niche neighborhoods, finding anything universal to represent everyone can be difficult. The subway-inspired logo — because real New Yorkers take the subway and leave the cars to tourists and the wealthy — accomplishes just that.
5. The NBA House Presented by BBVA Compass and Samsung
The BBVA NBA House at Moynihan Station across Eighth Avenue in Manhattan was packed with so many different things to do, it almost overwhelmed us as we stepped inside from the cold. But the Samsung Galaxy Experience was certainly one of our favorite off-court adventures during a weekend when we spent most of our time working.
It’s not included below, but we got to play a trivia game, similar to Jeopardy, and spin a digital wheel on their tablet for prizes (we won!). The trivia game made all those late nights studying the Basketball Almanac as a child seem wasted (though we did better than some). The pop-a-shot game was clamoring with kids, as was most of the NBA House, but if you’re a young NBA fan, it was a wonderful pastiche of hoops ephemera, allowing parents and kids alike to take a break from the scheduled games, practices, and contests to experience some hands-on, participatory fun.
Samsung really nailed it though. Some Interactive activities included:
Gear VR Pods – Fans got to experience immersive, 360 degree content inSamsung’s Milk VR service using the Gear VR Innovator’s Edition powered by the Galaxy Note® 4.
Kids Court – A “Kids-Only” zone, children played games and interacted with the SamsungGalaxy Tab S. Additionally, kids got to select from a gallery of basketball-inspired designs to have painted on their faces. Finally, kids participated with the pop-a-shot throughout the day (this was awesome).
Galaxy GIFs – Fans used a SamsungGalaxy Note® 4 to create their own animated GIF showcasing their ball-handling skills.
Galaxy Design Station – Using the Galaxy Note Edge, fans designed a custom bandana, tote bag or mini basketball hoop to display their NBA team pride.
Wonderful spot, and one of the best things the NBA set up off the court.
6. Media availability for lesser known players
Friday media availability at the Sheraton Times Square was an absolute zoo for media and interview subjects alike. But masquerading as a grizzled veteran of the ‘scrum’ scene, we found a way to make it civil – by talking to the lesser known All-Stars.
Along with a small handful of other reporters, we spent nearly 15 minutes in casual conversation with Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap. And though there wasn’t any Pulitzer-winning story to glean from our time with him, it was still a very informative and enjoyable session to say the least.
LeBron James’ interview stood in perfect contrast. Not only was the four-time MVP bombarded by oft incomprehensible and repeated questions from literally hundreds of reporters fighting for room below his table, but the din of commotion was enough that his responses were barely audible.
7. Open-air glass-enclosed elevators at the Marriott Marquis
Call us dorks, but riding our elevator down to the ground floor was thrilling. The glass enclosure gave us a view of the open-air hotel, and while the first floor was a confusing circle, the elevator and layout of the hotel was a breath of fresh air in a normally toxic Times Square.
8. Jamie Foxx Stephen Curry afterparty/Kanye West concert
At the NYC launch of Under Armour Curry One at the Marquee we heard from co-host Jamie Foxx, Stephen Curry, and UA CEO Kevin Plank. But the real fun came at their exclusive invite-only party later that night with Questlove on the 1s and 2s, Steph in a dorky suite, performing an exaggerated two-step, and Foxx holding court on stage and in the VIP section (we’re assuming, since we weren’t able to get past the hulking security guard). Foxx was even rocking sunglasses indoors, which Academy Award Winning actor/musician/comedians can do without looking ridiculous.
That’s the only grainy photo of Foxx we could get, but we heard later he hit the dance floor during the all-night soiree – we had to get a couple winks before All-Star Friday.
But we were lucky enough to be a part of Manhattan’s two biggest parties at once on Thursday night. Kanye West headlined the first Annual Roc City Classic – a free outdoor concert featuring the likes of Pusha T, Big Sean, and 2-Chainz – from the Flatiron District’s Madison Square Park in front of 10,000 wild (and cold) fans.
Afforded a VIP pass by the kind folks at adidas, we were able to get a pretty clear glimpse of Yeezus and company despite lacking the gumption to push through the crowd. A free show by music’s most famous artist in a setting normally reserved for Hollywood? We’re pretty sure even the folks far behind us left the Roc City Classic with no complaints.
9. adidas Suite & convenience of pop-up shops
We stopped by the SoHo Grand Hotel, one of various spots where you could pick up adidas gear, like the D Lillard 1, J Wall 1, D Rose 5 Boost and Crazylight Boost. When we found time to swing by, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was holding court with a crowd of foreign media. The whole suite was lovely, with excellent catering, but it wasn’t the only adidas locale.
The Foot Locker on 34th street housed appearances from adidas signature athletes John Wall, Damian Lillard, Jeff Teague and Kyle Lowry as well as the adidas Sports Performance Store in NoHo.
Nike, Jordan Brand and others all offered their own merch around the city with stores across the street from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and a smattering of offerings in Manhattan. For NBA fans, it was a chance to add to their collection of sneakers and apparel without traveling too far out of the way from the action on the court.
10. MSG and Empire State Building
Above is a shot of Madison Square Garden before last night’s game, and the red, white and blue in place of the usual blue and orange of the Knicks looked really beautiful when we were approaching from the eighth avenue side.
Then there was the Empire State Building, long a repository of color-schemes that reflect in-the-moment happenings. They cycled through every NBA team’s colors during the weekend: