As I left today’s All-Star practice media session, one of the workers at the Los Angeles Convention Center asked me what it was like to be on the practice floor with all the players and media. I pondered for a minute, and then I told him to imagine what it’s like when a men’s college basketball team wins the NCAA tournament, and people frantically run on the floor. Then I told him to imagine that he had to look for 24 people in that frantic crowd, while trying to get audio, video and whatever else was needed.
His one-word response? “Damn.”
Despite the madhouse that was today’s post-practice media session, there were uplifting and useful moments to be had. The morning started with Justin Friedlander dunking home his 63,000th shot to raise brain tumor awareness. Justin was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor called an optic nerve glioma back in 2009, and he vowed to shoot 63,000 shots — one for everyone diagnosed with a primary brain tumor per year. Justin, who hails from Rockville, Maryland, visited the Verizon Center last year prior to the Wizards/Pacers game, so it was nice to see him complete his journey. All the coaches and players from both the East and West All-Star squads shook his hand, and signed a t-shirt for him. Very moving stuff.
Next, the East and West All-Stars conducted the kind of practice that even Allen Iverson would not turn down. Gregg Popovich, who was mic’d up during the entire session, walked through some very remedial plays he planned on running in tomorrow night’s All-Star game, and then he just relaxed and watched like every other fan. At one point he ran up to Blake Griffin and said, “I’m a huge fan of yours!” Griffin just laughed and said thank you.
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