There is always a certain mystique to NBA All-Star Weekend. The amazing fan events and televised competitions are a year-to-year constant, but each host city brings a new flavor to the global gathering. As you well know, New Orleans hosted the 2014 NBA All-Star game last weekend. Thanks to the hard work we’ve put in here at Rip City Project (and some even harder work from the fine people at Crown Royal and Taylor) I had the privilege of taking part in the festivities firsthand.
So I bring to you my NBA All-Star experience, including the New Orleans club scene, celebrity parties, a special Q&A with none other than NBA legend Julius Erving (AKA Dr. J), and the All-Star game itself. There is so much to All-Star weekend that is lost on the big screen that I want to share with you.
Clubs & Parties
On Friday night, TNT’s Kenny Smith hosted a kick-off bash at the Metropolitan Nightclub. By “hosted,” I mean he rolled in around 1:00 a.m. with his beautiful wife, introduced DJ 33 1/3 before Nick Cannon arrived to play his set, provided cigars in the VIP (I count myself a fortunate recipient), and balled out until the early morning. I don’t know how he kept his eyes open to broadcast on Saturday.
This applies doubly for Charles Barkley, who knows how to have a good time. Chuck arrived ahead of Kenny and was unsurprisingly social despite a rather surly body guard puppy dogging his every step. As one would in a popular nightclub, Chuck partook in the spirits and seemed to be enjoying himself. I don’t know if he would recall shaking my hand, but it was a Space Jam dream come true to shake his. (I got his talent!)
When we left to return to the Intercontinental Hotel at some ungodly hour, Shaquille O’Neal was just arriving in a fittingly massive van. Although he was the driver, he took a moment to stop and chat with a few of our Crown Royal group members, including Sean Francois of Hoop Heads North, who was especially eager to meet the Big Diesel. The TNT crew (minus Ernie unless I missed him) far outlasted me— though, to be fair, I had flown all the way from Portland that morning.
The club was even more packed the following night for comedian Kevin Hart’s party. I’d be lying to say I stuck around to meet him (though I wanted to), but I took off around… well… sometime that night to rest up for the All-Star game. Not before enjoying the DJ stylings of the Clown Prince of Hip Hop, Biz Markie. The night life was absolutely insane because All-Star Weekend happened to overlap with the beginning of Mardi Gras.