Monday, February 28, 2011

I didn't watch the Oscars, but I'd like to see an actual award...

Last night the Oscars were held at the Kodak Theatre, and I couldn't have cared less.  I saw that Hollywood was setting up for the awards show 2 weeks ago when I was in California for the NBA All-Star festivities.  Believe it or not, I actually thought the stands that were set up were for the Kobe Bryant event at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.  ****  I'm totally serious.  The upcoming Oscars had completely escaped me, and there was even a huge sign that I missed.
Even though I'm not that into the awards show and missed watching it, since the New York Knicks were playing the Miami Heat, I must admit that it would be nice to hold an Oscar one day.  I solicited my friends for a picture of a Grammy Award for a post I did earlier this year, and my friend, Tracy, said she had a picture of herself with an Oscar (i.e. post awards ceremony at Chateau Marmont). 

Ok, immediately I was curious.  What a lucky girl!  This is Tracy and she is posing with an Oscar was for the movie, CRASH which won three Oscars in 2005 (i.e. Best Film, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Screenplay).  The man in the picture won the Oscar for Best Film Editing.  Not too shabby! 
Maybe if I decide to go "Hollywood" I'll start paying more attention to the Oscars...  I doubt it, though.  There will probably be a game on. 

Don't get me wrong.  I love movies.  I saw Black Swan, The Fighter and The Social Network.  I liked The Social Network the best.  I actually watched The Fighter after watching Black Swan on the same day, and I thought Black Swan was overrated.  The Fighter was interesting to me for a number of reasons, but primarily because I'd actually been to Lowell, MA.  The city plays a distinct character in the movie, similar to New York City in Sex and the City.

One thing I learned from last night's awards ceremony, I need to watch The King's Speech.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mavericks defeated the Raptors ~ Dirk drops 31 points and collects 13 boards for the W

18 seems to be the magic number.  Magic number for what?  18 is the point margin of victory for teams who have defeated the Toronto Raptors over the weekend.  First the Phoenix Suns came to town and won by 18 on Friday night.  Tonight (i.e. Sunday night) the Dallas Mavericks came into the Air Canada Centre and defeated the home team by the same margin. 

Dirk Nowitzki was the hero of tonight's game by dropping 31 points and collecting 13 rebounds.  Shawn Marion added 20 points to the winning effort.  

Bosh is gone.  Let's get this
kid a DeRozan jersey.
For the Raptors, Andrea Bargnani didn't play.  Amir Johnson had 21 points and DeMar DeRozan added another 19 points in tonight's losing effort.

Here's a picture I had to take of a little boy in a Chris Bosh jersey.  I realize Bosh played for the Raptors for many years, but can we please upgrade this boy's jersey?  He shouldn't have to have Bosh's name on his back.

The Dallas Mavericks were just in Washington DC on Saturday night, so maybe that explains the Mavs' slow start tonight. The Raptors came out hot in the 1st quarter.  Dallas held the lead initially (i.e. when Dirk Nowitzki scored the 1st bucket of the game) but then the Mavericks' offense was missing in action for quite a while.  At one point the Mavs were down by a score of 22-3.  Finally in the 3rd quarter, thanks to a bucket from Shawn Marion the Mavericks took the lead 62-61, and the Mavs never really looked back.

Tonight's match-up wasn't much of a ball game, but it was a good one if you were rooting for the Mavs.  Mark Cuban was sitting behind the bench watching his team closely.  As the Raptors came out to shoot around after half time, a few of them went over to shake his hand.  I'm sure a few of them wouldn't mind playing for him at some point in their careers.

The final score for tonight's game was 116-94.  Mavericks earned the "W".

****  My stint in Toronto has come to an end.  I've enjoyed my return visit to this city, and the couple of games I was able to watch this trip.  Thank you, Toronto, for a great time!


Saturday, February 26, 2011

FREE Deron Williams T-shirt ~ I laughed at this phrase

Today I received an email message "from" Deron Williams.  I'd imagine it was one of the emails that the team sends out to people who've bought tickets to a game.  Regardless, I thought it was funny.  In the email was a video from Deron Williams and a picture of him (i.e. presumably at the press conference where he was welcomed to the New Jersey Nets), after being traded from the Utah Jazz.  I didn't watch the video, but I thought the line underneath Williams' picture was funny.

Here's the line, "...the first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a FREE Deron Williams NETS Basketball T-Shirt!"

Whoever wrote that line is pretty clever or maybe a little sarcastic.  It's no secret that the Utah Jazz's future looked brighter than the Nets'.  So, I couldn't help but read "FREE" as "let Deron go" as opposed to "at no cost".

Just something that made me laugh, that I thought I'd share.


Suns scorch the Raptors ~ Vince Carter and Steve Nash's return to Toronto

Last night, I was able to check another venue off of my list as I visited the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.  I came out to Toronto to watch a couple of games this weekend and up first was the Phoenix Suns v Toronto Raptors game.  This game was intriguing for a number of reasons.  Two of which were the return of 1) Vince Carter and 2) Steve Nash.  Sure these two have returned to Toronto before, but that fact doesn't make it any less special.

The Air Canada Centre looked full last night.  I asked the women, sitting next to me, if that was the normal size of the crowd or of it was a larger crowd because Steve Nash was back in town.  They estimated that there were about 25% more people in the arena, because of Nash's return.  ****  I'll be back at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday for the Dallas Mavericks game so I'll have a better handle on crowd size then.

I'm really not plural,
but I'll take it.
The Toronto crowd's reaction to the return of Vince Carter to the Air Canada Centre was somewhat similar but not even close to Cleveland's reaction to when LeBron James (i.e. vilified) returned.  Toronto's wounds aren't as fresh, when it comes to Vince Carter, but make no mistake ~ from the sound of it, they haven't forgiven him for leaving. 

Vince Carter hasn't played for the Toronto Raptors since 2004, when he was traded away.  If I didn't know any better, based on the crowd's response, I'd have thought that it was just yesterday that he and the city of Toronto "broke up".  Every time Carter touched the ball, the crowd would boo.  Really?!?!  It's been more than  6 years, and Toronto still boos him.  At any rate, I guess it's good to see that the city supports its team. 

Steve Nash's ovation was much more positive from his home country.  The crowd in the Air Canada Centre cheered for Nash, regardless if they wanted the Raptors or the Suns to win.  Further, former teammate Leandro Barbosa and Nash hugged at half court prior to the opening tip. 

As I watched the game, I couldn't help but notice the man in front of me with a Washington Nationals hat on.  I found this interesting since the Nationals aren't very good and I didn't expect them to have a following in Toronto.  Further, I was in from DC, so funny that he was sitting in front of me. 

Another interesting moment was when they showed Bill Bellamy on the jumbotron.  Why was he at the game?  Turns out he's performing at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, Saturday (i.e. tonight) at 8PM.  ****  After the game, my friends and I went to Real Sports.  Guess who was there.  Yes, Bill Bellamy.  He seemed like a nice guy, but I only said, "Hi".

After the game, I waited until Vince Carter completed his post-game interview before heading into the tunnel.  There was an older man asking a security guard if Charles Barkley was here.  What?!?! Why would Barkley be here?  However, the older man was adamant that he could see Barkley.  As I heard him describe the man in question, and point towards the guy he thought was Sir Charles (aka the Round Mound of Rebound) I couldn't help but chuckle.  "That's Scott Williams," was my reply to the older man.  Too funny, and for the record, my friend Scott does not look like Charles Barkley.

As for the game, for the most part, the Suns had a 18 point lead.  Ironically, the final score was 110-92, as the Suns won their first game of the 6 game road trip. 

For the Suns, Marcin Gortat  had a double-double (i.e. 17 points and 11 rebounds).  Vince Carter also contributed 17 points, and Channing Frye added another 16 points.  Steve Nash, Canada's own, played a relatively quiet game, but added 7 points with 11 assists.

For the Raptors, Andrea Bargnani came to play and contributed 26 points. Leandro Barbosa was the second highest scorer with 15 points.

When the game ended, and after a few post-game interviews, we were off to Real Sports.  After my friends and I left Real Sports we headed to Maison on Mercer for Steve Nash's fundraiser.  Walking in easily with the Phoenix Suns and being outfitted with the appropriate white wristband, it was a fun night.  DJ Clue killed it and it was fun chatting it up with the Suns and Leandro Barbosa.  Good people, great music, fun times!

The Suns hope to continue winning on their road trip against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.  The Raptors are also active on Sunday against the Mavericks.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Los Angeles Lakers water, a tall drink of water I can carry proudly

I travel a lot and tend to get dehydrated by constantly being up in the air.  I resent the fact that I can't bring a bottle of water to the airport and have to buy a water bottle, after I clear security.  ****  The cynic in me thinks it's a conspiracy from the Coca-Cola company to sell more water, but that's a whole other post I don't feel like writing.  Anyway.  Anything for safety, right?!?!

As I cleared security and begrudgingly entered the gift shop at LAX to buy a bottle of water, I was pleased to see these purple bottles of water.  Los Angeles Lakers water. 

These tall, purple bottles of water (i.e. celebrating the back-to-back NBA Champions) brought a smile to my face. 

I didn't open the bottles to drink the water.  Instead I plan to keep them on my shelf. 

Too cool!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kobe Bryant's concrete slab at Grauman's Chinese Theatre ~ Take the Tour

One of Kobe's practice slabs
Kobe Bryant is the first athlete to be honored outside of Grauman's Chinese Theatre and I wanted to see his concrete slab.  Kobe's footprints and handprints are being housed inside the theatre so the only way to see them is to buy a ticket for the movie or take the tour.  I opted for the tour, and since I was the only one who bought a ticket, I basically had a private tour guide.

Since I had individual attention, I was able to ask plenty of questions and move through the tour and my own pace.  My tour guide was very knowledgeable and even gave me a coupon to lessen my ticket price.  As we started the tour, we entered the theater and I could see the Chinese theme.  ****  Did you know there's an Egyptian theater also? I didn't.

Immediately I beelined to the front of the theatre for the Kobe Bryant slab of concrete.  Did you know that the honoree practices on three slabs before given a chance to "work on" the larger slab that will go outside?  I didn't.  For Kobe's practice ones, he only did his hands.  For the official one, he did both his hands and his feet.

With a flash you can see the concrete on the red carpet
Kobe's official slab at Grauman's Chinese Theatre ~ hands and feet

Kobe Bryant's official slab and the 3 practice slabs on concrete

I'm not going to tell you everything I learned on the tour, because frankly I don't remember it.  I do think it's an interesting tour though, especially if you like movies.  In college, I took "Introduction to Theater and Film", and it was interesting to learn more about some of the actors and films from that course in relation to Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

Cameron Diaz sat in this seat

Rita Hayworth's hands look like chicken feet, they're so small!

The tour also includes a trip upstairs to a more modern theater with more modern technology.  Ever sat in a seat with D-Box technology?  I did.  It's very cool and now I wish more theatres had it.  The seat moves to go along with the action on the screen!

Grauman's Chinese Theatre is easily accessible by Metro.  I started my trip at the 7th Street Station and took the red line to Hollywood and Highland.  It cost me $3 round trip and the ride is approximately 20 minutes one-way.  I'm usually not one to take public transportation, but this trip was very easy and a great way to avoid LA traffic.


Dr. J and NBRPA Sunday Night Sendoff Party ~ Pictures

With Dr. J
After the All-Star game, I went to the Dr. J (aka Julius Erving) NBRPA (National Basketball Retired Players Association) Sunday Night Sendoff Party.  The event was held at the Millenium Biltmore Hotel.

I wanted to attend the event so I could "officially" meet Jaleesa Hazzard and Dr. J.  ****  I used to play with a Dr. J basketball when I was a kid. 

Mission accomplished!  It was fun to see many retired players and mix and mingle. 

Other notables in the crowd were Walt Hazzard, Bill Walton, Dominique Wilkins, Charles Smith, etc.

Here are some of the better pictures from the event.

With Jaleesa Hazzard

With Bill Walton

Walt Hazzard and Dr. J


NBA All-Star Game ~ Lenny Kravitz, Rihanna, Kanye, and Kobe as MVP

Sunday was the day for the NBA All-Star game and as I made my way to the Staples Center, I had 2 things in mind.  Take a picture of the TNT guys doing their thing and take a picture of the newly unveiled Jerry West statue. 

The West won the 2011 NBA All-Star game, even though LeBron James did his best to make up the difference and put the East in the lead.  Kobe Bryant played his heart out in front of the Lakers crowd to win MVP.

If you want to see players up close and can't afford a lower level ticket, here's a tip ~ get an upper level ticket and hang out on the main concourse.  There are plenty of players (current and retired) running around the concourse and taking pictures.  I had a lower level ticket, but when I went to the concourse to the concession stand, I saw "Big Baby" Davis, Gary Payton, etc. 

If you've never been to an NBA All-Star game and you're a music fan, you need to know that music is a large part of the weekend's festivities.  Josh Groban sang the national anthem.  Lenny Kravitz rocked out for the player intoductions.  Rihanna performed at half time with Drake and Kanye West.  Drake and Kanye were surprise guests.  People who had a ticket to the game, were treated to a mini-concert with these artists.  It was a special treat!

Enough about music, back to the game...

As for the game, the game was a good one.  Like I said, for most of the game, the West had a 15 point lead.  However, down the stretch the East (i.e. led by LeBron James) started to mount a comeback.  The final score was West 148, East 143.  For the East, both LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire dropped 29 points.  For the West, Kobe Bryant had 37 points and 14 boards.  Also for the winning team, Kevin Durant came up big with 34 points. 

Great game, great music, and great time!  Bring on Orlando...


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NBA All-Star Sunday ~ I started the day at The Ivy

On Sunday morning, I woke up fairly early (i.e. I skipped the parties, since Saturday was a rainy and colder night).  Plus, I was exhausted.  I needed to rest.

Lucky for me, I'd already made arrangements for a ticket to the All-Star Game so I had most of the day to play and relax.

I met my friend, Tyree for brunch at The Ivy.  ****  Technically I had dinner because I was starving.  

It was good to catch up with her and sit outside.  I had tried to get away from all the NBA activity at brunch, but sure enough there was no escape.  Check out the jacket behind me!

I ordered the lobster with pasta and a banana daiquiri.  For dessert I had the pumpkin pie.  I recommend all the selections I made. 

My best advice, if you want to get in and out is to get there early.  Sure we lingered a bit since we were catching up, but we weren't there to gawk at celebrities.  By noon, the place was starting to get hopping!  That's when we left.


NBA All-Star Saturday Night ~ Skills Challenge, 3-Point Contest, and Slam Dunk

Thanks to my friend, Teri, I scored a ticket to NBA All-Star Saturday night.  This is not an easy ticket.  When I stopped at VIP Tickets to see what they had in terms of inventory on my way back to the hotel, and they only had upper-level tickets left. They were selling them at face value.  I think that face value was $300-$315, I'm not really sure.  I don't sit in the upper-level so I never saw the ticket price.

I got a text that my ticket was waiting for me at Will Call and walked to the Staples Center.  I arrived just in time for the Skills Challenge.  Perfect timing.  Stephon Curry won the Skills Challenge, but here's a good one of Derrick Rose competing.

Cee Lo Green rocked green, performed his hit, and then found his seat for the 3-Point Contest. 
Cee Lo Green talking to Spike Lee on the way to his seat
After Cee Lo's performance, it was time for the 3-Point Contest.  Paul Pierce was the two-time champion and is from California, but since he's a Celtic the crowd booed him.  Ray Allen, who surpassed Reggie Miller as the 3-point king, also competed in the contest.  Surprisingly, out of the pack, the Miami Heat's James Jones ended up winning.  While Kevin Garnett and rooted on his teammates, Dwyane Wade (i.e. and his son) cheered Jones on from the front row.

Far East Movement performed after the 3-Point Contest.

Last but not least, was the highly-anticipated Slam Dunk Contest.  The favorite to win was Blake Griffin, but JaVale McGee and DeMar DeRozan weren't about to lie down and die.  Javale McGee dunked 3 balls at once.  He also brought out another hoop to dunk two balls at the "same" time.  Ultimately, Blake Griffin won and his final dunk was the one where he jumped over the front of a car with a gospel choir singing, "I Believe I can Fly".  Wild Stuff!

If you want to see the highlights, I'm sure you can Google for them.  I may try to upload the video I have later.  Until then, enjoy the pictures included.


The Grammy Museum ~ John Lennon and Hip-Hop Special Exhibits

On the walk back to the hotel from the LA Convention Center, I decided I wanted to check out The Grammy Museum (i.e. located on the campus of LA Live).  I've walked by The Grammy Museum a bunch of times when I was in LA, but usually had some place I needed to be.  Since I'd just wrapped up Jam Session and was waiting to hear back about my ticket to NBA All-Star Saturday night, I figured I'd run into the museum to see what it had to offer.  Plus, the Grammys were just on TV, so I while it's still relevant here you go!

A ticket to The Grammy Museum is $12.95 for adults.  Currently, the museum is featuring two special exhibits.  One is "John Lennon, Songwriter" and the other is "Hip-Hop: A Cultural Odyssey".  I asked the lady who sold me the ticket how long it'd take me to see everything and she estimated 60-90 minutes.

The Grammy Museum is 4 levels and the tour starts on the 4th level.  You descend from floor to floor until you complete your visit.  There is no photography or video recording in the museum.  I didn't try to break the rules, but I admit I'd like to have a picture of a Grammy for this post.

Obviously since it's The Grammy Museum, sound is very important.  Beats by Dre headphones are everywhere, including the gift shop.

I'll admit I LOVED the Grammy Awards two years ago.  The most recent Grammy Awards, I found to be a little boring but I enjoyed the commentary on Twitter as my friends and I watched the show.  I was thrilled to watch previous award show performances on a big screen at the museum (e.g. TLC, Whitney Houston, Kanye West and Jamie Foxx, etc.).  It's been said that, "Music is the soundtrack for our lives," and I believe it.  Music can take you back in time...

I enjoyed looking at the hand-written lyrics, seeing the Grammy dresses/costumes, and listening to the beats I tried to spin/mix while playing DJ.  ****  Jennifer Lopez's infamous green dress, that she wore when she was with Diddy is at the museum.  Incidentally,Taylor Swift is not only talented, but she is also tiny ~ I know because her dress is also on display.

The Grammy Museum also has public programs.  On February 25 at 8PM, the museum presents "Icons of the Music Industry: Russell Simmons".  Russell Simmons will be at the museum to discuss his influence and entrepreneurial approach to business and philanthropy.  After his interview, according to the flyer, Russell Simmons will take questions from the audience.

If you haven't stopped into The Grammy Museum yet, check it out.


NBA All-Star Jam Session ~ Highlights

Ok, for those of you that are rookies when it comes to NBA All-Star or maybe on a budget, I recommend going to NBA All-Star Jam Session. There are different exhibits from various sponsors and ways to interact with current and former players. Depending on your energy level and patience you can spend hours there so plan accordingly.

If you’re someone interested in autographs there are different players signing at different times in different areas. Numerous opportunities are available for pictures too, if you’re lucky and in the right place at the right time.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from Jam Session.  I have a picture to scan and a video to upload, but until then ~ here you go!

If given a choice between Chris Bosh and the giraffe, I'm choosing the giraffe.

Popovich recruiting... Any means necessary to make the San Antonio Spurs younger...

When NBA All-Star came to Cleveland, the NBA 50 were announced

With Craig Hodges

I waited for Rajon Rondo to smile...  And waited...  And waited...

I'm a huge Kevin Durant fan.

Dream job!

While at Jam Session, I had the chance to try my hand at play-by-play announcing.  Check out the video!  What a fun experience!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

NBA All-Star Saturday ~ Practice

If you can’t go to the actual NBA All-Star game, definitely go to NBA All-Star practice. Practice was held Saturday morning at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  ****  This was the first time since the NBA All-Star festivities were held in Cleveland, OH that I went to watch practice.  I have been missing out!

The LA Convention Center hosted the NBA Jam Session.  If you’ve never been to NBA Jam Session, check it out. There are numerous opportunities to interact with players, complete various basketball drills, and celebrate the game of basketball etc. More on that in a later post.

Practice is a ticketed event. I suggest you get there early if you want to take pictures since the tickets designate a section only. It’s general admission within the sections.

The guys are pretty loose during practice and you can see the smiles on their faces. NBA All-Star weekend is a fun time for the fans and the athletes. Unlike in football, where it’s a challenge to get the athletes to play in the Pro Bowl, the NBA shows up and enjoys itself during the All-Star break. 

 Don’t believe me? Check out the smiles on the guys’ faces.

One funny moment during practice occurred when Doc Rivers, coach for the Eastern All-Stars, told Carmelo Anthony to stand in the middle of the court since he didn’t know whether he was playing for the West or the East. ****  Obviously this was before Monday’s trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks and in the middle of the Melo-drama.

At any rate, practice was a good time and the teams performed various shooting drills. Towards the end of the practice Paul Pierce and Ray Allen established a record for 3-pointers by a tandem for the Guinness Book of World Records. Unfortunately for the Celtics duo, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant promptly broke the record to claim it as their own.

After practice there was media availability. The media had a chance to go onto the court to talk to the players. Picture it. I liken it to the media version of “storming the court”.