ATLANTA, Feb. 7 -- Last time I promised to fill you in on Shaq, Kobe, and the possibility that their flights from New York might be snowed in. The latest seems to be that Shaq made it through the snow OK, but Kobe’s flight never got off the ground. He’s stuck for the moment in the New York area, as is New Jersey's All-Star Jason Kidd. Just imagine if Kidd and Bryant, two workaholics stuck in New York, somehow end up working out at the same gym tonight. They would make one hell of a backcourt in a pickup game.

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Speaking of cold weather—I overheard Toronto's Vince Carter and Minnesota's Kevin Garnett bragging about how cold it was in their home cities. Carter was trying to convince KG that things were much chillier north of the border, but KG wasn’t having any of it. For the record, at the time of this writing on Friday evening, it’s 21 degrees in Toronto, and only 19 in the Twin Cities, so I guess KG wins this time.

The Sacramento Kings’ coaching staff is here to direct the western squad, and first-year assistant coach Terry Porter brought his adorable children along. The three boys had a field day hanging around with the players for a while, but they had the same problem a lot of people have—when players are out of uniform, it can be hard to match a face with a name. So it was understand able when Orlando’s superstar MVP-candidate, Tracy McGrady, showed up, and Porter’s kids rushed to surround him, and one of them asked T-Mac, “What team do you play for?”

Terry Porter didn’t have a monopoly on the NBA kids.

Pacers Coach Isiah Thomas was traveling with his entire immediate family, and his kids were hunting autographs just like anybody else’s kids would. His daughter even begged Isiah to get Yao Ming’s autograph for her, but the living legend somehow managed to turn her down without ruffling any feathers.

Which brings us to the great Yao Ming debate: Which commercial is better? The Visa spot with the desk clerk and the whole “Yao/Yo” miscommunication, or the Apple spot with Mini-Me and the big computer. For the record, Kevin Garnett has weighed in, saying the “Yao/Yo” Visa spot takes the cake easily. (To me it’s a no brainer the other way. I prefer the Apple ad, because what could be better than Yao and Mini-Me together?)

The Friday media session was a zoo as always. Just based on all the questions the reporters were asking, here’s one newspaper story I guarantee you’ll be seeing in the next few days: isn’t it weird that Isiah Thomas, longtime rival of Michael Jordan, will be coaching him on Sunday? I’m sure Isiah will handle it with the utmost class, and if Michael doesn’t win the MVP award it could only be because he doesn’t want it, not because his All-Star coach doesn’t want him to get it. Isiah even made several references to the year that Magic Johnson stepped out of retirement to win the All-Star Game MVP award, saying he would be happy if this year’s game turned out something like that.

One other story to look for: Suns forward Amare Stoudemire, a leading candidate for the got milk? Rookie of the Year, said he would vote for Miami’s Caron Butler.

At one point Seattle's Brent Barry (who is in town for the 1-800-CALL ATT Shootout) got to talking about video games, and said that he loves playing the various NBA games that are available. “I tell [teammate] Gary Payton that in the video game I score a lot of points, because it’s the only time I can get him to pass the ball. Because in the video game, I can make him pass it to me.”