has touched down in Houston for All-Star 2006. As part of the festivities around town, we'll provide you with behind-the-scenes coverage with our running blog.

From Q&A's with players and celebs to first-person accounts to cool photos, the All-Star Blog will be your home for complete coverage from All-Star Weekend!

Still Going ...

Posted by Jeff Dengate: Thurs., Feb. 16 at 10:30 p.m. ET [ Permalink ]

If all goes according to plan, the George R. Brown Convention Center will see four Guinness World Records set this weekend.
Gregory Shamus/NBAE/Getty Images
Remember the Guinness World Record attempts we told you about earlier in the day? One's set. One's still in progress.

Earlier today, Dave Hoopla, one of the premier shooters in the world, set the record for most triples made in one minute. Hoopla hit 20 from downtown, bettering the previous mark of 19. But, how long would that record last?

Jam Session goers, like Kevin, a 33-year old Houston resident, got their shot at besting the mark. After coughing up an airball on his first attempt, Kevin heard nothing but string music on his next two heaves and went on to hit a total of 10 over 60 seconds. Think 20, and even Kevin's 10, don't sound like much? Neither did he.

"That's from the outside looking in," Kevin said, "but it's different (once you get on the court)."

What's so different? Kevin tells us, "You've got to be in shape," if you hope to get that many shots at the rim.

You also have to be in top shape to keep a ball bouncing for 27 hours, the time Joseph Odhiambo is trying to reach. We caught up with Odhiambo when he had only been dribbling for six and a half hours, on his way to Center Court at Jam Session.

"My left shoulder is starting to get a little heavy," Odhiambo said. "But for the most part I'm feeling pretty good."

He could be feeling better with a little food and sleep. So far, he hadn't eaten, something we're guessing will happen in due time. As for the sleeping, for Odhiambo, it'll have to wait, although he did sleep much of yesterday in preparation. He hopes to keep his dribble alive until 5 p.m. Friday, when he'll finish on the NEVER FLAT court.

Us? We're not staying up through the night with him. It's time for some rest. But we'll be back in the morning.

Sir, Charles ... Speechless?

Posted by Johannes Berendt: Thurs., Feb. 16 at 9:30 p.m. ET [ Permalink ]

Charles Barkley is as popular as ever. Tons of fans waited for him to sign autographs following his TV duty for TNT at the Jam Session. Sir Charles believes there's nothing like the NBA All-Star Weekend.

"We have the best All-Star weekend," he roared. "It is the center of the sports universe. Everybody in the sports world is in your city."

Outspoken Barkley was also full of praise for Hornets rookie Chris Paul.

"Chris Paul is like a little Steve Nash," he lauded. "He makes everybody around him better. This guy should have been an All-Star, plain and simple."

We were amazed to find out that, contrary to popular belief, the former star forward does not have an answer to every question.

"I have no idea, man," Barkley replied when we asked him to pick the winners for this weekend's contests.

And asked whether he himself could triumph in any of the events, we were surprised to learn that he can even be realistic about his own abilities.

"Oh no," he vowed. "I am not a three-point shooter and I can´t dunk anymore."

Junk Yard Tour Guide

Posted by Johannes Berendt: Thurs., Feb. 16 at 8:00 p.m. ET [ Permalink ]

Once you´re retired from the NBA, there are several ways to spend your time, just ask former Pistons and Knicks forward Jerome Williams. Apart from creating his own record label and clothing line, Williams regularly takes part in NBA Cares activities. In Houston, as part of the Black History Month, he guided two high school classes through the Pioneers in Basketball Exhibition at Jam Session and also talked about civil rights. The 14-year-olds were grilling him with questions.

"Of course it is embarrassing to miss a dunk," he told the curious teenagers.

Jerome also offered tons of advice for the youngsters, "My past wasn´t perfect but you just make sure you have a better future."

Mercy, 14, was more than impressed by the well-spoken (and well-dressed) forward: "It was an interesting tour," she concluded. "He´s really nice."

Rookies Learn. Rookies Teach.

Posted by Johannes Berendt: Thurs., Feb. 16 at 6:42 p.m. ET [ Permalink ]

America might be "a whole different planet" for Australia's Andrew Bogut, however, the game he loves remains the same.

At Jam Session, the Aussie took time to put 25 FedEx customers through a private basketball clinic, showing them how they shoot – and hit – down under.

"I really miss Australia," he told us. "America is just so different."

Thus far, last summer's top draft pick has done a good job adjusting to the NBA, averaging nine points and over seven rebounds a match.

We put Andrew through your global mailbox questions, so if you want to know how it felt to block Shaq or whether he will play in this summer´s World Championships, check back with us soon.

Howard takes the court tomorrow night in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
Cartoons Are For Big Kids

Posted by Johannes Berendt: Thurs., Feb. 16 at 6:23 p.m. ET [ Permalink ]

Dwight Howard was having a good time at the Jam Session.

"It's just awesome being here," he told us after an interview session at the Cartoon Network's TV compound at the Jam Session.

Even though the Orlando Magic forward can't wait to play in the Rookie Challenge, it's the Dunk Contest that he is looking forward to the most.

"I want my boy Josh Smith to win again," he vowed.

Model T(J) Ford and a Pacer

Posted by John Schuhmann: Thurs., Feb. 16 at 4:55 p.m. ET [ Permalink ]

The early arrivals are completing some of their media obligations. Danny Granger and T.J. Ford -- participants in this year's T-Mobile Rookie Challenge -- each sat down with NBA TV's Andre Aldridge for a brief interview, did a couple of TV teases in a seperate room, and sat in for a pair of photo shoots with Nathaniel S. Butler and Jennifer Pottheiser. Even though Granger's Pacers beat Ford's Bucks last night, Ford greeted the rookie with a smile and congratulated him on the season he has had so far.

Andrew Bogut was just about to start the circuit, but, before he was able to sit down with Aldrige, he was whisked away to the FedEx Global Village at Jam Session.

Follow the Bouncing Ball

Posted by Jeff Dengate: Thurs., Feb. 16 at 4:00 p.m. ET [ Permalink ]

Jam Session opens to the public in an hour, but we took a sneak peek while all was still quiet. Well, relatively quiet, given that persistent sound of a bouncing ball. The origin of the sound? Joseph Odhiambo, the Nairobi, Kenya native turned Phoenix resident who's shooting, er, dribbling for a Guinness World Record.

Starting at 2 p.m. CT, and continuing for the next 27 -- yes, 27 -- hours, Odhiambo will keep his dribble alive to surpass the previous record of 24 hours dribbling a basketball. In Odhiambo's case, travelling will be allowed -- in fact, it's encouraged. The "World's Greatest Ballhandler" -- he holds the Guinness World Record for most basketballs dribbled simultaneously -- will make his way from the Spalding NEVER FLAT court in George R. Brown Convention Center, throughout the show floor and then outside to greet fans. From there, you can expect him to make appearances at the Toyota Center across the street and possibly even on the city's METRORail.

Think bouncing a ball for more than a full day is a little dull? So does Odhiambo, who said, "Bouncing it in one spot gets boring." That's why he's going to mix it up, dribble with his elbows and have fun with the fans. But what happens at 3 or 4 a.m. tonight, when the fans are long gone? The show, or bounce, must go on.

Validating the effort is a video camera, trained on each of the estimated 140,000 bounces the ball will make in the record attempt, one of four to be attempted this weekend. We'll check in with Odhiambo over the course of his record try.

In Houston, I Am, Said Sam I Am

Posted by Johannes Berendt: Thurs., Feb. 16 at 2:45 p.m. ET [ Permalink ]

The players have started to check into the Hilton, and guess who is there to welcome them? Former Rockets star and local Houston resident Sam Cassell. Sam is hanging out in the lobby area greeting everyone who gets past him.

"I am looking forward to relax, show my appreciation to my fellow guys who made the All-Star Game and enjoy the whole weekend festivities," Sam told us.

The Clippers guard even took time to pose for photos with international media members from Asia. Unlike other celebrities, however, Sam -- as a Houstonian -- won´t be staging any parties of his own. Much on the contrary, it looks like there will be family duties ahead for him.

"My kids (ages 13 and one) really like it, so I will show them around,” said the family man.

Houston, Our Blog Has Liftoff!

Posted by Jeff Dengate: Thurs., Feb. 16 at 11:30 p.m. ET [ Permalink ]

From the hardwood to wood working -- here Bob Lanier helps build a house for Habit for Humanity -- the All-Star Blog will have it covered.
Bill Baptist/NBAE/Getty Images
Remember us? We took you behind the scenes in Denver last year and the 2004 festivities in L.A. Well, we're back to give you the play-by-play and inside looks at all of the action taking place in Space City. Between now and the end of Sunday's game, we'll serve as your minute-by-minute look at the things you won't see anywhere else.

And just what is it we, and in turn you, are going to see? We'll take you to the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game on Friday (7 p.m. ET on ESPN); cover all 350,000 square feet of interactive basketball activities inside the George R. Brown Convention Center, where Jam Session is being held; give you exclusive sights, sounds and quotes from all of the participant practice and interview sessions; as well as providing updates not seen on TV from Saturday's events and, of course, the big game on Sunday.

Here's an example of the types of things you'll encounter in this space over the next four days: The staff set up shop in the NBA Entertainment offices in Houston yesterday. In walked NBA Commissioner David Stern, who noticed the large flat screen television dialed to NBA TV, which was then showing the waning moments of the 1992 All-Star Game, part of NBA TV's All-Star marathon. The Commish proceeded to re-live the MVP presentation ceremony for the dot-com crew.

Magic changed the discussion on AIDS in this country, Stern told us shortly after speaking with the Houston Chronicle, where he had just commented on the same topic. When Magic announced he was HIV-positive, you had some expressing concern over playing against him for fear of contracting the virus through sweat. Then, there on your television set, you witnessed the world's greatest players hugging the perspiration-drenched legend as he put on a dazzling display and clearly had sewn up MVP honors.

While the storylines for this weekend's events don't look to include such an extraordinary event that transcends all of sports, the weekend's entertainment and Sunday's game itself will be no less remarkable. The sport's best players have already begun arriving today and we're on the ground seeking them out, to bring you the latest.

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