All-Star players enter the central court of the Jam Session surrounded by all kinds of NBA merchandise. As usual in every All-Star Weekend, they strike their best pose and wear the latest thing in kicks. They talk with the media inside the court. Only two guys are missing. One of them will show up later, when journalists can no longer rush at him. Hint: he's a 7-5 Chinese citizen.
Suddenly, all credentialed journalists leave the place. What happens? It's time for MJ, the other guy missing, to speak and that's why everybody runs towards the press room.
Michael Jordan enters the room with his dark glasses and typical beret. Half an hour later, everybody's content – except for the fact that this is the last time Michael Jordan will take part in a press conference during an All-Star Weekend.
Back on the basketball court, Jordan is the boss. He gives advice to everybody. He shares some laughs with T-Mac, Iverson, Pierce... Then he starts a Slam Dunk competition between Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady. They have to jump from the baseline without taking a single step and dunk the ball. Guess what? Vince wins.
Pau Gasol tells us that the word in Atlanta is that there are seven ladies for each man in the city during the All-Star Weekend. The amount of people that came down here is crazy, Gasol says. It really is. One very exclusive party in which only stars are invited is thrown Saturday night.
Everything is much more serious in the Philips Arena.
A six-year-old wonder sings the national anthem. Then, the Rookie Challenge begins.
After draining threes all through the second half, Warriors guard Gilbert Arenas is unsurprisingly named MVP of the game. The Ballhog of the Game award goes ex aequo to Nets forward Richard Jefferson and Grizzlies guard Gordan Giricek.
Arenas, who refuses to leave the locker room nervous about the amount of journalists waiting for him outside, is clearly the best player of the game. The biggest impression was left, though, by Suns forward Amare Stoudemire – you have to watch him live to realize how strong he is – and Warriors guard Jason Richardson with his flashy dunks. It was just a foretaste of what it was to come.
The "Skills Challenge" is won by Jason Kidd, and that's all you can say about that dull contest. More less the same goes with the three-on-three, in which Magic and 'Nique exchanged trash talk. The latter slammed an alley-hoop like in the good old times.
The best was about to come: the killer shooting touch of Peja Stojakovic... and the Jason Richardson show. No one flies like him. Desmond Mason tried – but failed. Shawn Marion and company went crazy with Richardson's out-of-this-planet dunks. Michael Jordan was joking with Spud Webb.
While Charles Barkley signs autographs for everybody (someone will be making money on eBay) and Yao Ming sports a nice suit among the crowd, Michael Jordan leaves the place backdoor, followed by Magic Johnson and Bill Russell. In every sense, retro rules.
David Carro writes for Gigantes and is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com
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