Daily Blog: 2008 NBA All-Star Weekend

Throughout the 2008 NBA All-Star Weekend, WashingtonWizards.com will have
exclusive behind-the-scenes coverage of everything happening in New Orleans.
As part of this exclusive information, WashingtonWizards.com editor, Andrew
, will be giving you daily blogs of the All-Star experience.

All-Star Saturday Night

Feb. 17, 2008, 12:16pm

What a Saturday night! I think most of us can agree we haven't seen a dunk contest like that in a long time and we can all thank Dwight Howard for that. The talk all week was that Howard had something up his sleeve and after he pulled out the first two dunks the contest was all but over.

While Howard stole the show, I got about 10 texts from friends/co-workers after "The Superman" dunk, I also have to give a lot of credit for originality to Gerald Green. Green's "Blow Out the Candle" dunk was very similar to Howard's "Sticker" dunk from last year. At first everyone was like "what did he do?" And after watching the replay you saw exactly what Green did, and the dunk looked about 10 times better. I really wish the judges would have held off their scoring on that dunk until after the replay. Not that it would have mattered.

While the last couple days have had few breathers in the schedule, game day is one of the quieter days of the weekend. Therefore I am heading off to the NBA Store to pick up some souvenirs for friends and family. Please join me at 8:00pm tonight at washingtonwizardsblog.com, for a live blog of tonight's game.

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East Practice and Saturday Night Predictions

Feb. 16, 2008, 1:47pm

Just returned from the East practice, and while it was hardly a competitive practice, it is always special to see so many great athletes all in one place. As far as the Wizards go, Caron Butler did not practice, but he did do some basic shooting before the drills started. Here are some quick highlights of the 45 minute session.

  • Jamison joined the vets in a shooting competition against the younger guys. The players shot from 6 different spots on the floor with the young guys pulling out the win.
  • Caron Butler rebounded for the young guys, which included, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard and Joe Johnson.
  • Caron Butler was sporting his new CB3 All-Star shoes, which are pictured to the right.
  • Rasheed Wallace only shot left-handed in practice (including 3's), and he still rarely misses. It's unbelievable how talented these guys are.
  • The East coaches were showing the team out of bounds plays they were going to run when LeBron James drew up his own out of bounds play for the game. East Head Coach Doc Rivers referred to him as Coach James for the rest of practice.
  • At the end of practice the team chose five guys to shoot half-court shots. The players had 60 seconds to make as many as they could, because this was the first time this had ever been recorded the highest total set a World Record. LeBron James and Jason Kidd each tied with 3, with Kidd shooting all of his shots underhand. Ray Allen made two with Chauncey Billups and Joe Johnson both making just one.

    Finally, following practice I had the chance to talk to both Antawn and Caron about their thoughts and predictions for tonight's contest.

    Antawn Jamison
    "I got (Jason) Kapono (in the 3-point contest), I think the contest suits him and he has a lot of confidence from last year, and in the slam dunk contest I'm pulling for the big guy, I'm pulling for Dwight (Howard) to go into his bag full of tricks and do something we haven't seen in a while. I think it's going to be an exciting dunk contest, you got four guys that can really contend for it and four guys that really bring some excitement as well."

    Caron Butler
    "I hate to go against my boy Rudy Gay, but Dwight Howard has something up his sleeve and it's CRAZY! I also like (Jamario) Moon. I saw Moon do some dunks in the warm-up yesterday that was unbelievable. He jumped two feet behind the free throw line, LEGIT, two feet from the free throw line, and then he does the Vince Carter 360 and puts his whole arm in the rim. I want to see what he's going to do. I like Kapono, I think he'll repeat."

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    The All-Star Break is No Vacation

    Feb. 15, 2008, 8:15 pm

    To all the fans out there that think All-Star Weekend is all glitz and glamour for the players let me dispel that rumor right now. After following around Caron and Antawn for the whole day I personally am a little exhausted. So while other people might be out eating at fancy restaurants or enjoying the New Orleans night life, I am writing this from the sofa in my hotel room, eating a pre-made turkey wrap and a container of fruit salad, while I watch the Rookies and Sophomores go at it on TNT.

    Where to start? I guess the beginning is always a good spot. So the morning started out with Caron and Antawn heading over to the media circuit. While I will have an entire article devoted to this "event", the media circuit is basically a chance for NBA Entertainment to get everything they could possibly need from each player over a 20 minute period. The circuit starts off with each player being interviewed in a 1 on 1 format. The focus this year was on each player's "journey" to the NBA and what it took for them to get there.

    Following that interview, the players went through three photo shoots, then they had an interview with NBA.com, then they had an interview with ESPN radio, before returning back to do another interview with ESPN and finally a promo with ABC. Had enough? Because the interviews don't stop there!

    Following the circuit, Antawn and Caron met with their Eastern Conference teammates and coaches in a closed door, 45 minute meeting. Directly after that meeting, the players move one room over for media availability. So after being asked tons of questions just one hour before, the players get to do it all over again, this time from all the media outlets that have access to the All-Star Weekend.

    The best part of media availability is that it is basically 45 minutes of every media member trying to cut off another media member, so they can have their question answered.

    Following that event, I followed Antawn Jamison to his NBA Cares Service Day, which became infinitely more fun due to a rain storm that hit New Orleans early in the afternoon. Watching players, volunteers and several NBA Executives put on a poncho was definitely unexpected. However, the best part was watching the complete construction of a state of the art playground. As I wrote in my story on the event, it is truly amazing to see how much hundreds of volunteers could accomplish in one day.

    After a few hours of manual labor, Jamison headed back to the NBA Jam Session to host a basketball clinic before finishing up his day with yet another interview, this one during the All-Star Celebrity Game.

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    NBA Live '08 All-Star Edition: Caron Butler vs. Brandon Roy

    Feb. 15, 2008, 10:20 am

    I arrived in New Orleans around 4:00pm local time, and let me say it is amazing how the NBA comes in and just takes over the city. Driving into downtown from the Airport all you see are huge banners everywhere promoting the All-Star Game. It’s not just the banners though, it is EVERYWHERE! My keycard at the hotel has the All-Star logo, the front door to the hotel has a picture of Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire, and the rooms even have NBATV! Needless to say this is an NBA fans dream experience.

    After getting to the hotel I had a little time to kill, so I picked up my credential for the weekend, and grabbed some great local food at Mother’s Restaurant. Following dinner it was actually time to cover an event, and what better way to start than with the EA Sports NBA Live 08 Video Game Tournament and Party.

    Caron Butler, along with seven other All-Star Weekend participants, played in a single elimination tournament. Butler was put on the spot early, playing in the first game of the tournament against the Portland Trail Blazers Brandon Roy. Having never played this version before, Caron turned to coach/cousin, Jarvis McMillan, to give him a couple quick pointers before the game.

    “He’s going to do pretty good,” said McMillian about Caron’s chances before the tournament. “He’s just learning the buttons right now. But he picks up video games pretty fast.”

    Unfortunately for Caron, he didn’t pick it up as fast as Roy, losing by over 20 points.

    Following the loss, Butler interviewed with a couple of TV stations that attended the event, and watched the end of the tournament, which was eventually won by Tony Parker.

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    Blogging from the Sky

    Feb. 14, 2008, 4:30 pm

    Hello everybody, I am Andrew Rosen, and this will be the first of many blogs that I will be posting over the weekend. First off, it is great to start off All-Star Weekend on a positive note after last night’s great win. There is no question that the Wiz needed a win last night, and you could see how much the win meant to the team by watching their reaction after Antawn’s game-winner.

    Moving onto All-Star, I am currently writing this blog from 35,000 feet in the air on an airplane down to the Big Easy. And while, I am a little crammed in my seat, attempting to type on my laptop, I really can’t complain considering Gheorghe Muresan is on the plane as well. This small 70 seater has no First Class seating, but luckily for Gheorghe, he ran into our CCTV reporter Jumoke Davis, who gave up his first row seat and extra leg room, to the tallest player in NBA history.

    Before boarding the plane, I was able to talk to Gheorghe for a minute and I asked him what he looks most forward to over the weekend. The answer definitely caught me by surprise, as the 7’7 center told me that he enjoys watching the “little guys” in the skill challenge the most.

    While “Big Gheorghe” is the easiest celebrity to spot on the flight, at least 10 people asked me who he was; I also had the chance to talk to NBA Historian, Todd Caso. Caso, who started covering basketball in the 50’s and still works for NBA Entertainment on their historical side, had glowing things to say about the Wizards’ Caron Butler, and even mentioned another Bullet who had a very similar style game.

    “The player that most resembles Caron Butler to me is Bobby Dandridge. Like Butler, Dandridge was very strong along the baseline, good rebounder, good passer, and had a good all-around game. He was a guy that got everything done, and done well.”

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