The NBA Jam session was a big basketball playground for NBA fans. Here, kids with aspirations of becoming NBA players could try out their Dominique Wilkins style dunks on the ‘8 and ‘9 rims. Photo by Jason Lewis
NBA All Star Dwyane Wade played a little ball with some of his biggest fans at the T Mobile courts. Photo by Michael Buckner (Getty Images) On what has been dubbed “Black Thanks Giving,” Blake Griffin stole Saturday night and Kobe Bryant stole Sunday night.By Jason LewisSentinel Sports Editor
The NBA All Star weekend has been dubbed as “Black Thanks Giving” because of the high amount of black fans who attend the events associated with the All Star game. Walking around Staples Center, the Los Angeles Convention Center, and LA Live, it was easy to see why, as Los Angeles’ black community showed up in droves to see their favorite stars in sports and entertainment. There is a long standing notion that the mostly black NBA players play in front of mostly white crowds, but that was not the case at all this weekend, as there were a high amount of blacks in attendance among the diverse crowds on Saturday night for the three point and dunk contest, on Sunday night for the All Star game, and at the NBA Jam Session throughout the weekend. The All Star game, three point contest and dunk contest lived up to the hype, but the Jam Session by far exceeded it. That was where fans could not only meet NBA players, but they were also able to play their favorite sport. Staples Center was the place to be seen, but the Jam Session was where the action was at. Watching kids perform 360 degree dunks on 8’ and 9’ rims was amazing, and equally entertaining was watching grown ups trying to relive their youth, but getting hung on those very same rims. Jam Session definitely had a “black” flavor with a barber giving free haircuts, which a lot of parents took advantage of. Many kids came in their basketball shoes and shorts and were able to play in pickup games and compete in numerous challenges for prizes. Jam Session was a basketball fan’s playground, and the family atmosphere was attractive to many who had President’s Day off. The All Star weekend was more than just what was happening in Downtown Los Angeles. There were events happening all over the place. Trevor Ariza, who played basketball at Westchester high school and UCLA, opened a Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar at the Baldwin Hills Mall on Thursday night with a star-studded event. This restaurant is the spot for watching any sporting event. Televisions cover every wall in the establishment, and it is by far the best looking sports bar & grill in the area. This is a place to take your family for dinner, or hang out with friends. Michael Jordan released his latest installment of his Nike Air Jordans. Jordans have been the luxury basketball shoe for more than 25 years, so the best way to introduce the shoes was at a Beverly Hills mansion. Many fans of the shoes wear them to be stylish, but these shoes were manufactured for elite athletes. One new innovation with the shoe is interchangeable mid soles. Two mid soles comes with the shoe, one which is lighter, for quicker players, and one with more cushion, for bigger players. Bigger players who want to be quicker late in games can switch out mid soles so they are more nimble during crunch time. The shoe gives the player more options for better comfort, which could lead to greater athletic performance. As for the causal wearer, pop in the cushioned mid soles for everyday use. There were other really cool events surrounding the weekend, but most of the younger crowd was interested in the party scene. The rain did not keep most people indoors, as it was nearly impossible to drive around Downtown and Hollywood because of parties hosted by Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Shaquille O’Neal, P Diddy, Jamie Foxx, Rick Ross, and many others. The party scene was like New Years Eve three nights in a row. As great as all the events were surrounding the weekend, the main events were at Staples Center. The skills competition and three-point contest were entertaining on Saturday night, but the main event that night was the dunk contest. Blake Griffin was the attraction for this event, and he delivered in a big way. His dunks were not as great as Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Spud Web, Vince Carter, or some of the other great dunkers, but he did bring a sense of star power to an event that usually does not live up to the hype. Griffin has been one of the most talked about NBA players this season, and he closed the show in a big way. Okay, most players can jump over the hood of a car, but seeing what the competition was doing, Griffin appeared larger than life. Really looking at it, Griffin was the only good thing in that competition. The problem with the dunk contest is all the do overs that players are allowed to do when they miss a dunk. In the past, when the dunk contest was great, players pretty much had one chance to hit their dunks. When a player finally hits a dunk after ten tries, it pretty much loses all of its luster. The players are attempting dunks of a much greater difficulty, but that does not result in a better show. The final event, the All Star game on Sunday night, was why the NBA wants Los Angeles to host this weekend. As the Sentinel and Watts Times Editors were sitting second row, center court, right behind P Diddy, Jay Z, Beyonce, John Legend, and many other super stars, Kobe Bryant put on a show. He was dunking on LeBron, hitting three point shots, crashing the boards, and creating turnovers as he was gunning for the MVP award. Was Bryant going for the MVP award like Wade accused him of? Yes! Of course he was. He was playing in his home city, so it is no surprise that he put on a show for the crowd, especially because this may be his last All Star game in Los Angeles. Bryant showed that he is still the best of the best, and he capped off a great weekend of NBA basketball.
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