HOUSTON, Feb. 19 -- In the interest of all-access All-Star, we tracked the Western Conference stars from the hotel to the court.
T-Mac and KG depart the hotel.
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Gathering at the Hotel
Both teams gathered in a designated area at the player's hotel, and the East headed out first. Yao Ming took a seat on a couch off to the side, listening to his iPod. After a while, Ray Allen joined him and it wasn't long before Yao was sharing his tunes with Ray.
"It was Chinese music," Allen told us. "I couldn't understand it, but it had a good beat to it."
A little while later, Shawn Marion came over to chat with Allen and assistant coach Del Harris came over to talk strategy with Yao. Harris mimicked player movement with his fingers on a pillow.
Dirk and Nash eat at the trainer's table.
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A Few Minutes to Chill
After riding over to the arena in individual SUV's, the West had a few minutes to relax in the Rockets locker room. The two Rockets, Yao and Tracy McGrady, dove into the All-Star program. The players got dressed and headed into the trainer's room. Dirk Nowitzki took some spaghetti and meatballs in the back where he dined with former teammate Steve Nash. Nowitzki got a little warning from Del Harris first.
"Dirk, don't be spilling any spaghetti on those warmups!"
While Dirk and Nash lounged on the trainer's table with their dinner, Shaquille O'Neal entered and said something in German to Dirk. He then told Shawn Marion, "Let me know if you need any help with your German." What was it that he said to Dirk?
"He said 'Can I help you with something,'" Nowitzki told us.
Did he say it correctly?
"I could understand it."
Well then, Shaq knows more German than we do.
We shouldn't have to say this anymore after tonight, but for the record, Shaq and Kobe gave each other love when Bryant entered the room.
A Bet for a Good Cause
At one point, Kobe was on the trainer's table getting taped when Tim Duncan entered the room. Duncan slipped Bryant a one-hundred-dollar bill, which Kobe placed inside his compression shorts. Had Kobe helped a fellow All-Star in need? Not really. He just won a bet by winning the West's halfcourt shooting competition in practice on Saturday
Each of his fellow teammates gave him a $100, which he will donate to the Boys & Girls Clubs of East L.A. Kobe asked us to tell everyone reading this that the Boys & Girls Clubs of East L.A. could use your help as well.
Parker takes it to the office.
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A Good Place to Eat
Tony Parker came into the trainer's room with a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, looking for a place to sit down and eat. Seeing all the training tables occupied, T.P. took refuge inside the trainer's office, where he sat in front of a computer to eat his dinner.
As Kobe made his way back to the locker room, he knocked on the office's glass sidelight, telling Parker, "Hey, stop eating in there!"
In Need of Some Private Time
After practicing their pre-game introductions (which included a John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever
imitation by Steve Nash), the West headed upstairs for their photo shoot. After 15 minutes of photos, they headed back down to the locker room for media availability. Several of them decided they needed a little time to themselves in the training room first, so when we checked the locker room, the media-to-player ratio looked to be about 60 to two. During this time, Tim Duncan actually tried to surf the web in the trainer's office, but he couldn't get a connection.
The players all eventually made their way into the locker room to an appreciative media, who grilled them for about 15 minutes. Then the locker room emptied and players were allowed to get in some shooting on the court. A few of them decided to stay in the locker room to chat though, and we overheard Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen talking college hoops. Not surprisingly, it was Kobe asking the questions and Ray providing the asnwers.
The rest of the team then came back, coach Avery Johnson gave his pregame speach, and the West headed out for pregame introductions.