There's no set time when players are due to arrive for All-Star Weekend, but NBA.com wagered a guess and took up post in the lobby on Friday morning. While there was no continuous stream of players and their accompanying staffs of family and friends, there were a few sightings over the course of the hour:
No credential? Don't even try.
Jermaine O'Neal's arrival sends everyone into action.
Lisa Leslie, checking in.
Gary Payton and hat.
Shane Battier and Pau Gasol arrive in style.
"So this is all your luggage, Pau?"
The word of the day is: Security. Anticipating the influx of All-Star Weekend participants as well as NBA Rookie Program attendees, the lobby of the Philadelphia Marriot is overrun with uniformed police officers and plainclothes enforcers constantly on the lookout for the prerequisite credential. No credential and you're out on the street.
Those who do have the appropriate passes -- media and other hangers-on -- are sent through a devilish maze of ropes, tables and checkpoints. Players, of course, are whisked through with ease.
First player sighting: Golden State rookie Jason Richardson -- competing in tomorrow's dunk contest -- dressed completely in back save for a diamond and platinum necklace, strolling toward the elevators, entourage in tow.
Yawn. Where is everyone? NBA.com correspondents occasionally asked by security to "move along" or "go that way."
Wang Zhizhi, the Chinese seven-footer now playing for Dallas, emerges from an elevator and is immediately stopped and asked to present identification.
Big fuss at the front doors. Indiana center Jermaine O'Neal has arrived. O'Neal looks bored as he shakes hands with ostensible strangers and photographers snap pictures. He may just be worn out from lugging around the 25-pound jewel-encrusted watch he wears on his right wrist.
Los Angeles Sparks star Lisa Leslie checks in and stops to talk with a group of women, but is otherwise bothered by no one on her way upstairs. Even throws an unsolicited "Hi!" in our direction.
Mavericks assistant Donn Nelson and family huddle up beside the escalator.
Celtics All-Star guard Paul Pierce, dressed in a bright orange shorts/T-shirt ensemble by Sean John, materializes to greet teammate Joe Johnson, who is in town for the 'got milk?' Rookie Challenge.
Seattle's Gary Payton emerges from the back of the lobby, jaws with a few officers and exits through the front door.
NBA.com learns that more players are streaming in through a secret side entrance.
Grizzlies teammates Shane Battier and Pau Gasol arrive together. The seven-foot Gasol, talking on a cell phone, has to duck his head to get through the doors. There is some discussion as hotel employees try to figure out whose luggage is whose among the many bags they brought between them: "OK," says a clearly confused woman, "so these are Shane's and these are Pau's ..."
Milwaukee's Ray Allen slips through the secret side entrance with no fanfare, speaks to no one and immediately boards an elevator. No fuss, no muss.
The autograph horde has grown in size as fans hunt their prey with felt-tip markers. Most seem to be feasting on Jermaine O'Neal. His ankle is holding up well after standing around to sign countless autographs and shake numerous hands . No word if all the signing and shaking with his Inspector Gadget-sized watch has injured the wrist.
Jake Tsakalidis of the Phoenix Suns and unnamed friend grab double lattes at the hotel's Starbucks. Seattle SuperSonics owner and Starbucks founder Howard Schultz is rumored to be ecstatic, but talks of an imminent trade are probably unfounded.
Showtime! Eastern Conference coach Byron Scott gets out of a van still looking Showtime-sharp with reflective shades and dapper suit. Helpers grab his luggage, which may or may not contain a pair of Michael Cooper's tall socks.
Pistons forward Brian Cardinal now seen three times on escalators. Who says he can't up?
NBA.com bails out.