Innovative ideas have become the hallmark of the NBA, a transcendent league that’s only increased in popularity after successfully merging the realms of sports, politics and pop culture in recent years.
Consequently (and especially in the wake of a worldwide pandemic that’s turned the film Contagion into a shocking reality), the world’s most progressive league has continued to be a haven for well-meaning free-thinkers with a knack for setting trends.
This very weekend will be an exercise in transforming novel ideas into reality, as the NBA will host the 2021 NBA All-Star Game at State Farm Arena in an event that provides funding to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and COVID-19 relief.
Enter comedians Daniel Baker (“Desus Nice”) and Joel Martinez (“The Kid Mero”), who will host the first ever Bolt24 Real Star Awards on Mar. 6.
The Bolt24 Real Star Awards — which will have special appearances by Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard, four-time WNBA champion Sue Bird, New York Knicks rookie Obi Toppin, two-time WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne and others — will be held virtually via Instagram in an interactive format.
Far from a traditional awards show, the categories include “Best Drip in the Game,” “Most Likely to Wear a Sweat Suit to a Wedding,” and “Player Most Likely to Bring Back Puka Shell Necklaces.”
As Mero says, “categories that the people want to know but that would never be at the NBA awards.”
“This is a real legit award,” Mero assures you.
“Let me tell you,” Desus says. “These are going to be some of the realest awards you’ve ever seen. First off, it takes place inside a bodega.”
As an ever-animated Mero yells “FACTS,” it’s suddenly striking how symbolic this small nugget is when assessing the larger picture of the NBA landscape. 10 or 20 years ago (perhaps even five years ago), it would have been nearly implausible to imagine an awards show — supported by star players — being hosted inside of a corner store by a couple of comedians.
Particularly a pair of comedians with Caribbean roots that rose to fame through a successful podcast series.
Holding their categories close to the vest, the cast of characters that Showtime’s star duo will have in attendance only adds to the mystique and intrigue behind what’s sure to be a lighthearted affair.
Competitive nature may even desire to be selected for the awards, which are sponsored by the iconic Gatorade brand that also has a partnership with the NBA. Especially as today’s players are more concerned with their appearance and their personal brands than ever before while becoming more transparent with their personalities.
“Hopefully it works,” says Desus. “Hopefully you guys watch it so it can be an annual event and we keep doing it for the next 40 years.”