The first post from Phoenix
Is this bound to be a subdued weekend? Is that a bad thing?
by Ben Osborne
Well, not the smoothest of beginnings for the SLAM team. What’s crazy is that this is two straight years of All-Star travel drama. Here was Sam’s take on getting to New Orleans a year ago. I was on a direct flight from Newark tonight, and while it was delayed, and there was no record of me at the hotel despite me holding a confirmation from the NBA in hand, I’m here in one piece and that makes me happy. I really think the solution for us would be if the All-Star Game was just held in New York City every year, but I guess that’s pretty provincial of me.
Early indications are that this place is pretty much the anti-New York; didn’t see much in the way of food or drink options en route from airport to the hotel, and the hotel itself is dead. We’ll see what happens, but I think this is a harbinger of what may be, by recent NBA standards, a quiet All-Star Weekend.
About two weeks ago, I was talking to Lang about what the logistics would be like this All-Star Weekend, what with the game in downtown Phoenix, our hotel out in Tempe and most of the Valley’s nightlife about 20 miles away in Scottsdale. “It’s going to be really tough to get to any parties out there,” I said to him. “What parties,” he replied. “No one’s throwing any.”
That turned out to be a slight overstatement, as we’ve subsequently gotten some invites and figure to check out a few events, both for fun and because Slamonline readers traditionally enjoy reading about them. But we definitely know of companies that have cut back dramatically, and that’s no surprise. Thought the NBA was recession-proof? As a David Aldridge piece Lang put me on to makes clear, hell no. Even SLAM is traveling lighter than year’s past, with just myself, Lang and Ryne (when they get here) having come from New York on SLAM’s credit card. It seems clear that the off-court buzz will be much different than years past. Just think about some of the ASW’s this millennium: there was the spinning-rim extravaganza in Atlanta in ’03, the Hollywood flare of L.A. in ’04, the Mike Jones/Paul Wall explosion in Houston in ’06 and the how-many-people-can-fit-on-the-gaming-room-floor-at-the-MGM-chaos of Vegas in ’07. Last year’s weekend in New Orleans had a nice undercurrent of community service, as the NBA Cares crew did its thing helping to rebuild the city, but belive me, people were still gettting their full-on party going.
This year, between the relatively quiet host city and the economy that has limited who can be here and what they can and can’t afford to do while they’re here, it just seems safe to say that it should be pretty quiet.
There’s a pretty nice upshot to all this, though—it puts the focus back on the basketball. And that part of the weekend should be great. I know I’m gassed to see DRose and OJ battle the on-fire Kevin Durant in the rookie-sophomore game, and then the main event on Sunday should be a classic. Lang’s feeling a DWade MVP. Not a bad call, but given their recent MSG exhbitions and the relative dud they played against each other last Sunday, I see it turning a little more into a Kobe-LeBron MVP battle. I know that if that happens, with key supporting roles thrown in from the likes of Wade, Dwight and Tim Duncan, I know everyone from SLAM will be grateful to be here, regardless of what it took to get here or what else we did.