So let’s talk dunks. All-Star Weekend is just around the corner, which means we’re about to see one of the more anticipated dunk contests in recent years. And that’s mainly for one reason: Blake Griffin.
As you guys know, this season I’ve been cohosting NBA.com’s Hang Time Podcast with NBA.com’s Sekou Smith, and along with our super producer Micah Hart, we’ve been scheming on a Dunk Contest podcast for a while now. We actually had all of the dunk contest participants lined and ready to go a few weeks ago for a podcast, but then Atlanta froze over and Sekou and Micah couldn’t make it in to the studio.
But we regrouped! And somehow, yesterday, we managed to pull it off. So yesterday on the Hang Time Podcast, we welcomed all four contestants in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest: DeMar DeRozan, Blake Griffin, Serge Ibaka and JaVale McGee. We also managed to wrangle one of the greatest dunkers of all-time, Dominique Wilkins, to talk about the history of the dunk contest. And while we were taping the podcast, I started looking over the list of the people who’d won the dunk contest, and there was Brent Barry. So we put in a call to Bones and got him on the podcast on the fly. All in all, great stuff, and these guys had some great things to say.
You can listen to the entire podcast via our flash player here:
• The other big event on All-Star Weekend is the three-point contest. SLAM reader Viktor Meijer, who plays for Alvik Basket in Sweden, sent along this clip of Marcus Eriksson, a Swedish baller who was MVP of the Junior Euroleague a few years back. And it seems Mr. Eriksson can shoot…at least the straightaway three. Here he is hitting 78 out of 80 threes. All while dressed like Mark Zuckerberg.
• Here’s a fun story: It is snowing today in NYC. I think I am one of the few people in New York still fascinated by snow. More specifically, falling snow. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in the South, where we averaged about one inch of snow every two years, but whenever it snows in NYC, I love to open the curtains and sit near the window and just watch it float down to the ground. Like everyone else here in NYC, I don’t particularly like dealing with the aftermath of the snow — being unable to walk along sidewalks isn’t a lot of fun — but those moments when it’s actually snowing are still special to me.
We’ve had two huge snowfalls in New York this winter, and I was stranded in airports for both of them. The first time was a couple of days after Christmas, when I got stuck down South for a week. The most recent huge storm was last week, when 19 inches came down overnight. I was in L.A., returning from my driving adventure and waiting around at LAX, hoping I’d be able to fly home to NYC on the red eye as soon as the snow passed. I arrived at LAX at 5:00 PM, and my flight was supposed to leave at 9:30 PM. I figured I could wait out four hours by posting up in a corner with a couple of electrical outlets and getting some work done. Almost as soon as I checked in, I got an email noting that our departure was delayed from 9:30 PM until 12:30 AM. This meant I was staring at what would be at least an 8-hour delay. I did not want to spend eight hours hanging around the Delta concourse at LAX, so I went up to Delta’s Sky Club and bought a one-day pass.
As much as I’ve traveled over the last decade, I’d never been in one of the premium lounges the airlines run for their best customers. Because even though I maintain enough miles to qualify as a medallion member with Delta and I get upgraded on flights pretty regularly, I have never traveled quite enough to reach that upper echelon of business travel warriors who get the bulk of the airline perks, like George Clooney in Up In The Air.
Never having set foot in a premium lounge before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It was a huge space, with a few areas that seemed to be designated for certain things: a quiet room; a bar-like area with snack food, TVs and free drinks; a bigger room with space for groups of people to sit together. People were quiet, relaxed. I found a spot at a row of desks across the back of the room and plugged in my various devices, then got on the free wireless and sat down to write. I wrote, caught up on emails and reading, wandered over and ate and drank, made some phone calls. I overheard the man next to me calling his wife, and he was obviously on the same flight I was on, so we commiserated about our shared bad luck and strategized about the best way for us to get back to NYC.
Around 10:30 PM, they announced that the flight was going to be canceled and that we would all be automatically rebooked for the next available flight. A bunch of people made a run for the front desk in the Sky Club to talk ticketing, to find out when they’d be flying or to try and adjust their schedules. I spun around in my chair and got online and checked, and I’d been booked onto a flight leaving the next morning at 6:30 AM, as had my compatriot next to me. I selected a seat (only middle seats available, ugh), bypassed the line and went to one of the automated machines to print out my ticket, and went back to compare notes with my fast friend. We talked about trying to find a nearby hotel to get rooms, but by this point it was 11:00 PM. By the time we found a hotel with vacancies and caught a cab over, it would probably be close to midnight, and we’d have to be back to check in for our flight five hours later. We agreed it just made more sense to try and crash in the Sky Club for the night.
I went over to the large domed entry room filled with high-backed love seats and claimed one for myself. I set my cell phone alarm for 4:50 AM, drained a glass of red wine and fell asleep pretty much immediately. The only time I woke up was around 2:00 AM, when another stranded traveler sleeping nearby awoke and apparently spilled a full glass of water into his laptop bag and kind of freaked out about it. (I couldn’t blame him: I can think of lot of places I wouldn’t want to spill a full glass of water, but not many worse than my laptop bag.) But after he settled down, I went right back to sleep, my legs on top of my bags, clutching my cell phone in my hand so I wouldn’t miss the alarm going off.
Sure enough, I woke up at 4:50 AM, still holding my cell phone, which must be some sort of a record. Brushed my teeth, grabbed a bagel and coffee, then strolled downstairs minutes before boarding. All told, spending that fifty bucks made what could have been a miserable situation into a perfectly tolerable one.
I made it back to New York last Thursday night and missed the snow. But then it snowed again on Saturday. And it’s snowing outside right this second, the fourth Tuesday in a row we’ve had snow and the eighth “winter event” of the season. And it’s supposed to snow again on Saturday.
But I am not complaining! Just saying, if you like snow, right now New York is the place to be.
Catch you guys tomorrow…