The 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend was a joy to take part in, and we loved so many different things about the experience, it was hard to find anything negative to write about. But there are problems any time you’re putting on something as large as the NBA All-Star Game. Here were some that stuck out for us.
1. Internet Access
On several occasions over the weekend, arena officials took to the PA speaker and announced that the league handed out over 1,800 credentials to assorted media members. Considering the NBA was so proud of 2015 All-Star’s unprecedented coverage, you’d think it would bend over backwards to make sure every reporter gets the one thing they need most. But you’d be wrong. WiFi capability was spotty at Barclays Center and often nonexistent at Madison Square Garden from Friday afternoon through early Monday morning. There’s no surer way to irritate nearly 2,000 already irritable people by making it impossible for them to do their jobs – we and so many others like us learned that the hard way this weekend.
A certain Northern California based NBA writer with midwestern roots came to All-Star Weekend well prepared for the forecasted freezing temperatures of the greater New York City area. But not even long johns, double socks, and coats on coats could properly protect him from the constantly frigid and windy weather that was its worst on Sunday night at 4 degrees. The league made a great choice for the host cities of this season’s midseason bonanza. Should All-Star return in the future, though, it would certainly be more enjoyable if Mother Nature cooperated.
3. PA Commentary of Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, and Kenny Smith during All-Star Saturday
Frequently overheard during All-Star Saturday festivities at Barclays Center: “One of the reasons why All-Star used to be so enjoyable is getting away from the television broadcast – now we can’t even do that.”
Live commentary of the TNT coverage played over the Barclays loudspeaker as Skills Challenge, Three-Point Shootout, and Dunk Contest challengers participated in their events. It made for an awkward scene to say the least, especially as Miller critiqued long-range specialists amid their routines. Palpable buzz in the arena was easily lost when the trio’s jokes fell flat, too. There was just no reason for this quirky addition, and we hope the league does away with it come this time next year.
4. This small coffee and smaller chicken sandwich cost $19
We handed the concession stand worker 10 dollars fewer and left being accused of stealing.
5. A lack of late-night food options near the arenas
The Dime staff finished working and left Barclays Center as Friday night turned to Saturday morning. We exited the New York Knicks home even later, and emerged from the bowels of Madison Square Garden at close to 2:00 AM following Sunday’s main event. Needless to say, we were quite hungry after hours of work and feeding off the wildly overpriced sustenance shown above.
But local 24-hour eating options in “The City That Never Sleeps” and its most popular borough were few and far between. ‘Dunkin Donuts may or may not have been had, and it may or may not have been thoroughly enjoyed – that’s how famished and eager for food we were after hours and hours of work.
And despite a sausage biscuit from ‘Dunkin having may or may not really hit the spot, let’s just say we expected more from a pair of boroughs whose residents and visitors are known to enjoy wee hour merriment.
6. The Friday media availability scrum
With a record number of credentials, of course, comes a record number of reporters. That was never more obvious than during Friday afternoon’s All-Star media availability, when hundreds – if not more – of journalists from across the globe crammed into a smallish ballroom at the Sheraton Times Square for player and coach press conferences. After 10 minutes in the ‘scrum’ that one high-profile veteran writer called “the worst ever,” it wasn’t just easy to feel bad for yourself, but the All-Stars, too.
The 20-minute individual Q&As occurred the day before Kevin Durant told reporters, “Y’all not my friends.” After Friday’s media availability, it’s easy to understand player frustration with the people who cover them – and the depressing dog-eat-dog nature of modern journalism, too.
7. Assistance of arena personnel
A universal complaint among all attendees was a decided lack of knowledge among ushers and security guards. Fans and reporters alike were left in a maze of mislabeled entrances, closed exits, and ill-informed personnel at both venues, and often thrown back into the New York cold as a result.
An example of such disarray: Two media members being refused entry at the assigned location by an usher whose only response to their questions was, “I’m trying to direct you! I’m trying to direct you! I’m trying to direct you!”
8. Times Square
One of the many designated hotels affiliated with All-Star Weekend was the Marriott Marquis – a perfectly lovely place to stay, by the way – at approximately 45th and Broadway. One problem – it’s located in the heart of Times Square.
There was enough hubbub associated with the event alone for attendees and participants to become easily anxious, and adding the blinding neon lights of midtown to the equation only made that possibility a likelihood. All-Star Weekend in New York City can more than stand on its own without “help” from America’s most overwrought tourist stop.
9. Media seating at Madison Square Garden
There’s only so many seats to go around at the Mecca of Basketball – 19,763 for New York Knicks games, actually. And with 1,800 or so media members in tow for the All-Star Game, many were left without not just a work station, but a place to sit down at all. Tens of standing reporters encircled the last row of seats in the MSG nose bleeds for the contest’s full 48 minutes.
If forced to endure the same, we might have collapsed from physical and mental exhaustion gleaned from the previous three days. As far as we know, though, all reporters left the Garden with only aches and pains and consciousness intact. Amazing.
10. Circular hotel lobby confusion
Our hotel was amazing, the staff exceptional and the accomodations perfect. The lobby, though, had us walking around in circles almost every time we came back. Each entrance looked the same and it was way too easy to walk almost a full revolution to find the elevators.
The incredible elevators that made our Top 10 Things To Like About The 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend, made up for our dunderheaded inability to find the right access point to actually activate them.
The fact we had to mention this totally trivial annoyance should be a clear indication the 2015 NBA All-Star Game had a lot more off-court likes than dislikes. But we had to grouse in some fashion, so thanks for your patience.