NBA Legends Brunch
In the presence of greatness.
One of the best events during All-Star Weekend that I’ve been lucky enough to attend several times is the NBA Legends Brunch. It’s a chance to see some of the best retired players of all time in the same room. Ernie Johnson from TNT hosted the event once again and did a great job. He took the podium after Commissioner David Stern made a speech and introduced all the legends in the room by way of an impressive, well-written poem. Steve Colter, who played on six different teams in eight seasons, and Mark West, who played for the Suns for eight seasons and now works in the Suns’ front office, was presented the Legends Humanitarian Award by Fat Lever and Eddie Johnson. And Walter Davis, who was considered one of the best pure shooters in Suns history, was given the Legends Career Achievement award by Alvan Adams. Nowadays Davis does a lot of charity work with teaching kids how to eat properly and work out.
In between awards, there was an amazing video tribute to two-time NBA coach of the year Cotton Fitzsimmons, who coached for 20 years in the NBA. When he coached the Suns, their record was 341-208. Just watching the video gave me goose bumps and made me see that he was a great coach with a great sense of humor. Connie Hawkins, who was unable to make the event (due to health issues), was given the Legends Lifetime Achievement Award by Bob Lanier.
Jerry Colangelo, one of the most innovative and influential owners in the NBA history was presented the legends visionary award by his son Bryan Colangelo. Wayman Tisdale, who was the the No. 2 draft pick behing Patrick Ewing in ’86 ’85, was presented the Legends Courage Award. Tisdale has been undergoing treatment for bone cancer and had part of his right leg amputated last summer.
The Legend of the Year Award was presented by Julius Erving to the very deserving Kevin Johnson. Kevin Johnson won the Sacramento Mayoral election on November 4th, 2008, becoming the city’s first black mayor in the process. KJ gave the best speech of the brunch, making it easy to understand why he won the race. It was actually one of the wittiest and funniest speeches I’ve ever heard at the Legends Brunch.
Throughout the 10 years of the Legends Brunch, there have been a lot of great hosts such as comedian George Wallace, actor/comedian Cedric the Entertainer and Sinbad. One other special guest who has done stand up before twice at the legends brunch is Chris Tucker. Chris, who was out and about all weekend, came for a third time and performed about 10 minutes of material before the Brunch ended. Like always, Chris was hysterical and had the entire room falling out of their seats. As good and as prepared as Ernie Johnson was at hosting, I think it would be entertaining to have Chris Tucker host the entire event next year in Dallas.