Moondog’s All-Star Orbit Around Houston

Some Final Thoughts on All-Star Weekend with the Dog

Lots of bling here in "H-town" as they call it (I will continue to call it Houston), and it’s jam-packed with celebrities I have never heard of.

I have one rule on have to actually be one to act like one. If you were on a "Reality TV" show, you were picked because you were not a celebrity...and being on it really doesn't count towards making you one. I think this rule makes about half of this weekend's stars into fans with all-access passes...which I actually think is what makes for longer lines at VIP metal detectors (which of course I use). It’s that, or the metal detector employees just want autographs from that guy who once got fired from Donald Trump or the girl who ate a bowl of worms while bungee-jumping into a pool of lime jello. I love her work.

Once you get through the long line of quasi-celebrity you get to the good stuff: NBA Entertainers. And the league spared no expense this year, bringing in the really top shelf of NBA grocery. Like the Miami Heat dance team. Seriously, they are just as advertised. Then add the Orlando Magic dance team...and the Houston Power Dancers. It’s enough to make me come back every year, or at least go to Houston and Miami for vacation.

One serious observation on dance teams...I think it's really interesting that dance teams look exactly like their towns. Miami has a glitzy, sexy, South Beach glamour feel...with a fast, high-energy (and really hot) dance style...just like you would think you would see in the clubs in Miami. Orlando has a fun, girl-next-door theme-park feel to it. Houston has a oil-rich, everything-is-bigger-in-Texas feel with dances that look like astronauts floating in space. (I totally made that last part up to further the analogy). Actually they were all very cool and talented. I thought I owed it to my fans in Cleveland to fully examine all three teams completely. I think my favorite was Miami, but it's too close to call. I promise to review the tapes again...and again.

In another side note, Houston has pretty good Vietnamese food, go figure.

The All-Star game is really a long weekend for the performers the NBA brings in. Most days are filled with practices or run-throughs, but seeing the productions all come together is pretty special.

Here are some thoughts on each night:

Rookie Game:
I am not a huge fan of the rookie game, and it didn't help that Martynas Andriuskevicius didn't play. You could taste the disappointment in the crowd when the introductions where done, the pyro smoke cleared and the East bench remained sans-Marty. I think that really would have tipped the balance to the Rookies and it may be a league-wide conspiracy against the Class of 2005. I promised to get to the bottom of this (right after I address the dance team question).

The mascots got a little time during the rookie game, each of us throwing down a dunk in the first half. Clutch did his "naked" dunk, which really appeals to all the ladies (not really); the Raptor managed to botch his dunk (which we endlessly teased him about) by kneeing the ball into the 8th row before he had a chance to drop it in the hole. I threw down a little up some style points to make sure I actually made the dunk (unlike the Raptor). Finally, Lucky (Celtics mascot) did a sick flip dunk over Clutch (who thankfully took the time to put clothes back on).

Saturday Skills Night:
Saturday is actually really fun, usually the most entertaining night.

I am a fan of the Shooting Stars contest (with the NBA, WNBA, and Legend players)...I even wish they had a few more teams involved...but I might be in the minority on that.

I have to give one side note to the Skills Challenge that LeBron was in. I am not sure it was on TV, but in-arena they did something really cool. They picked out four sections that each represented one of the players. If that section's player won, then everyone in that section won a PLAYSTATION and NBA Live 2006...which is seriously a pretty cool gift. I was up in LeBron's section before they announced it. When word started trickling down what the prize was, the fans were totally buzzing. It was pretty amazing. I am pretty sure that Wade cheated...I plan to review the tape (after the dance team tapes and the conspiracy tape). Nobody beats LeBron. I somehow walked out of the Toyota Center without a PlayStation (that I would have donated to charity).

The 3-point contest is always fun and this year seemed a little less exciting than years past, but still solid. Dirk has a really cool rainbow shot that seems to accentuate his height, or is accentuated by his height…not sure which. I was a little disappointed that the contest lacked Cleveland's Damon Jones, but he was busy lighting up the Houston sidelines in other ways. Rumor has it that Craig Sager offered Damon $4,500 cash for his jacket after the game.

I saw the replay of the Dunk Competition, or as it might be called the 'Dunk Competition featuring Moondog in the Background.' It was a little silly how much air time I got during that. Aside from getting more air time than Eva Longoria, I really enjoyed being so close to a couple great moments during the dunk-off. The dunk over Spud Webb was simply fantastic; I really loved the nods to the past stars and NBA moments. That said, the best dunk was AI's from behind the backboard...which was shocking in all regards. As for the controversy over who won...I think it could have gone either way. I will say that I wish they only got three chances at any dunk...not because it makes for a long show, or lessens the impact of any dunk...but just because I was sweating so badly at the end.

Jam Session
Sunday morning The Optimist decided to skip out on what would have been a rose-colored photo shoot at the Jam Session, so instead I got stuck with his lackey Joe Gabriele and The Raptor. All in all we had a great time, but our hour visit could probably have been stretched to 4 hours with how much stuff there is to do there. (see our photo gallery for more).

The 55th All-Star Game
Sunday night was the All-Star Game, starring our own Bron Bron. These are totally star-studded events (I was there and I am not only a star, but a stud), brought down only by the lack of defense...which is probably overrated anyway. The introductions were extraordinary as the guys were lifted up (like a space craft I am told). My behind-the-scenes scoop ( exclusive story) is that Thursday the lifts were not working at all, putting the whole thing in jeopardy. Needless to say, the NASA experts sorted it all out and they lifted even the massive Shaq up to the top with no problems.

The All-Star mascots (me, Raptor, Lucky (Celtics) and Clutch (Rockets) actually are just eye-candy at this game...since the real show is on the court. We do a couple basic things like throw out shirts and stare at the dancers. The real highlight was a time out where we were given a real game ball (2006 All-Star leather ball) and asked to get "celebrity" autographs on it. At the end of the time out they make us throw the balls up to a fan. I was a little nervous since I don't recognize many of the celebrities (since I have to admit this dog doesn't watch much TV). While my mascot counterparts were getting Jay-Z and the host from Elimidate to sign their balls, I stumbled on the mother lode of basketball celebrity. One section by the corner of the floor had a bunch of NBA legends in it. So I went there and ended up with five of the NBA's 50 greatest players signing my ball (Bill Walton, Elvin Hayes, Earl Monroe, David Thompson and David Robinson). Then I went on the court and put the icing on that large, leathery cake by getting the soon-to-be MVP of the All-Star game, LeBron James, to sign it as well. As the horn sounded I (appropriately) flipped the ball to Flip Saunders to toss into the crowd. So some lucky fan got an autographed All-Star Game ball signed by five of the 50 greatest players, along with the best current player, tossed to them by the coach of the Eastern All-Stars (and I totally sweat all over the ball too). Needless to say, no one got a better souvenir that day.

After much thought, I have put together this list of the top 10 All-Star Moments. I wisely put this at the end of the column, since if you read this you probably could skip the rest of my blather.

Moondog's Top 10 All-Star Weekend Moments
10.Shaking hands with the former President Bush (who was sitting courtside).
9.Seeing the Miami Heat Dancers perform.
8.Making the Raptor pay for pizza on Thursday night by claiming all I had was "Canadian bills" on me. Ironic, funny, and a free dinner...the perfect trifecta.

7.Seeing Royce from the Orlando Magic Dance Team throwing down a dunk off a trampoline.
6.The Houston Symphony playing the intro music...really powerful.
5.Nate Robinson’s dunk over Spud Webb.
4.Destiny's Child singing the national anthem (they sounded better than they looked...nuff said.)
3.Riding in an elevator with three of the Miami Heat dancers after the Friday night event. (if you think they are hot on the court, you need to see them in street clothes).
2. Andre Iqudola's dunk from behind the backboard.
1.Collecting and giving away the autograph ball, including Robinson, Walton, Elvin Hayes, David Thompson, Earl Monroe and LeBron.

View Photos of Moondog's All-Star Weekend