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ROAD WARRIORS

Eastern Conference All-Star and Celtics teammates took the scenic route to Philadelphia, choosing to drive the 300 miles rather than hop on a commuter flight.

"We just wanted to enjoy the ride," Pierce said. "We just wanted to enjoy the long ride and think about what we've done this first half of the season. You know, we're finally All-Stars together.

"Plus, I think I was kind of scared to fly on that short flight, that Boston to Philadelphia flight. So we just wanted to enjoy the ride soak it all up make a stop at Foxwoods (Casino)."

What was only supposed to be a 45-minute pit stop at the Connecticut gaming resort turned into a three-hour sojourn. Pierce swears he's not working for free this weekend, but he can't say the same about his fellow carpooler.

"I didn't let Foxwoods hit me like that. You'd have to talk to employee No. 8."


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THIS JUST IN FROM OUTER SPACE

The newness of the All-Star Game has not worn off for Kings forward Chris Webber, even though this is his fourth appearance in the Midseason Classic. He's even a little starstruck -- not by his current brethren, but by All-Stars past.

"This is still a dream. Every year. I mean, I just met Darryl Dawkins for the first time," Webber said. "For you guys (the media), this may get old because you've seen so many games. You've covered players from All-Star to All-Star, but for me, coming to All-Star Games and seeing players I have posters of or I know I was in the gym emulating or trying to be like. It feels good to me to hear them say my name. Like, whassup Chris?

"It's almost like you made it to the fraternity."

But while Dawkins was more than happy to welcome Webber into the brotherhood, Chocolate Thunder wouldn't share his planet Lovetron.

"He said I'm from another planet. I don't know. I've got to ask him," Webber laughed. "It's like I'm supposed to know. Like Planet Funkadelic or something. I can't be from his planet, but he gave me a planet of my own. So I'm happy with that."


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FEAST OR FAMINE

Timberwolves forward Wally Szczerbiak has constantly has female fans drooling over his chisled good looks. But this weekend, he's doing the salivating -- at the mere mention of cheesesteaks and other fine Philadelphia foods.

Interviews, photo ops and appearances have kept the All-Stars too busy to sit down to many meals.

"Yeah, I really haven't had time," Szczerbiak said before Saturday's practice. "I just got room service last night nothing too exciting. I got a little bit of breakfast in me this morning. "

But fear not for Szczerbiak's mighty muscle mass. It might not be very tasty, but the first time All-Star sustains himself via portable proteins.

"Normally, eating on the go, we're eating all those Gatorade bars. That's all we can do."

Do they come with onions?


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QUALITY FAMILY TIME

Clippers guard Quentin Richardson grew up near Chicago and lives in Los Angeles, but had to travel to Philadelphia to get to spend time with his family. Of course, it would be quality more so than quantity time since Richardson participated in both the got milk? Rookie Challenge and the 1 800 CALL ATT Shootout on All-Star Saturday night, but he's happy they're here and having fun.

"The best part is that I get to spend time with my family," Richardson said. "I haven't been able to see them since the preseason. They came out for Christmas out at my house in LA, but that wasn't for very long.

"I know they're having a good time, so I get to see them and spend time with them at the hotel when we're not doing stuff like this. I'm definitely making everything fun. I'm getting a chance to have time away from my team and not have to worry about being serious about everything and winning."

Away from his team? The 2002 NBA All-Star Weekend boasts three Clippers, with Darius Miles joining the Rookie Challenge and Elton Brand playing in the big game. But Richardson sees them as extended family and is especially proud of Brand being named as one of the West's best.

"You've got to be excited when you're on the All-Star team," Richardson said. "Now he can say he did everything. He was on the rookie team, the sophomore team and now he's made the big game so this is definitely a big step."