by Lang Whitaker

I’m not sure what I should say about our day on Friday. After all, just the other day I wrote about how I hate to complain about stuff related to All-Star, since I actually get to come down here and it’s considered work and all. At the same time, Friday was quite a day.

Sam, Ben, Khalid and I met up at LaGuardia Airport at 8:30 a.m. We were all booked on a flight from New York to Cincinnati and then from Cincy on to New Orleans. In this day and age of constantly delayed flights, I generally avoid connecting flights as much as I can, but I didn’t book this trip and we weren’t really given a choice. Our flight from New York left two hours late, so we didn’t arrive in Cincy until after our flight to N’awlins had left. On the flight, Sam and I slept while Khalid watched old Def Comedy Jam DVDs. Later, Khalid pulled out a book called “Black Pain.” Once we got to Cincy, for some reason Ben was put on a flight to Atlanta and then to New Orleans. The rest of us were told we were standby on a flight direct to New Orleans leaving at 4:45, but there was little chance we’d make it on. At about 4:00, we were told to run to another gate and to catch a flight to Atlanta, where we’d maybe get to New Orleans but more likely we’d get to Baton Rouge. So we flew to Atlanta, hung around for an hour, then flew to Baton Rouge, arriving around 7:00 p.m. Sam and Khalid’s luggage was lost — I carried mine on so I was good. We eventually rented a car and drove to New Orleans, about 70 minutes away, and arrived about 9:00 p.m. It was interesting to drive into the city because I assumed the traffic would be ridiculous, but it really wasn’t all that bad — not nearly as bad as Vegas or Atlanta traffic. We even drove down Canal Street pretty easily, considering it was All-Star Friday night.

Checked into the hotel and headed right back out to the Jordan Brand party a few blocks away. It was in a huge old mansion with a big courtyard, and there were many, er, talented women in the building. Lots of celebs, too. Off the top of my head, I saw Michael Jordan, Charles Oakley, Chris Paul (and fam), Brandon Roy, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Durant, Dave Winfield, some guy named Wes, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Joe Johnson, Dikembe Mutombo (who said he’ll be at the dunk contest tomorrow night), Carmelo Anthony, Warren Sapp and Chris Tucker. DJ Beverly Bond spun tunes, and the dance floor was jumping, but most people were hanging around the outside of the dance floor, chatting and getting their drink on.

A few hours later, we rolled out and went over to the ESPN party, which had apparently just broken up following a performance from Common. I didn’t see any of that, and when we arrived people were trickling for the doors. Morris Peterson was supposedly there, but the only celeb I saw was Jon Barry. Yeah.

By then it was almost 2:00 a.m., and I still hadn’t eaten a full meal all day, so we swung by ESPN’s annual late night after-after-party and had chicken and waffles (with hot sauce — the condiment, not the streetballer). We were standing around a table, stuffing our faces (the food was amazing), when Allen Iverson strolled by in a Brooklyn Dodgers cap. I also spotted DJ Clue getting his late night breakfast on.

We finished eating and it was nearly 3:00 a.m. (4:00 a.m. in New York), and I was completely exhausted. I’d been awake for 21 hours, had been in three planes, a train (in the Atlanta airport) and an automobile (our rental car from Baton Rouge to N.O.). We started walking back to our hotel, and as we passed Harrah’s Casino, we noticed a pack of people jammed around a blue Bentley stuck in traffic. The car started rolling and came right toward us, and I looked in the passenger window and saw Shaq sitting there. I said, “Diesel!” He stuck out his arm and said, “What up, baby!?” I gave him a pound as the car rolled off into the New Orleans night.

Me? I went to bed, which is where I wrote all these notes. Tomorrow is coming soon…and now that we’re actually here, more updates will follow…