NBA to Showcase its Stars in Big Easy
Posted on: February 12, 2014
NBA to Showcase its Stars in Big Easy

If you can’t make it to New Orleans for NBA All-Star Weekend starting Friday, the league’s broadcast partners will provide the next-best thing to being there.

TNT, NBA TV, and ESPN will feature special programming that includes every event from the All-Star Game itself on Sunday to new Commissioner Adam Silver’s press conference on Saturday night.

TNT is the channel where you can catch most of the featured events as well as pregame and postgame analysis by TNT’s Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, and Ernie Johnson. All-Star festivities tip off Friday, and the featured event that night is the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge at 9 p.m. As the name suggests, the game features the best rookie and second-year players, and retired All-Stars Grant Hill and Chris Webber drafted their teams from the list of selected participants.

Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo, a former Indiana University star, was drafted by Team Webber, and one of his teammates will be New Orleans Pelicans power forward/center  Anthony Davis. Their teammates include former Michigan standout guards Trey Burke, now with the Utah Jazz, and Tim Hardaway Jr., who now plays for the New York Knicks.  Team Hill includes former University of Florida star guard Bradley Beal, now with the Washington Wizards, and Detroit Pistons second-year center Andre Drummond.

On Saturday, TNT also will broadcast All-Star Saturday Night, including the Shooting Stars, Skills Challenge, Three-Point Contest, and the Slam Dunk contest. Hardaway Jr. and his father, former Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors star Tim Hardaway Sr., will team up in the Shooting Stars. Orlando’s Oladipo, the Jazz’s Burke, and former USC standout DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors will take part in the Skills Challenge. Beal and the Magic’s Arron Afflalo, a former UCLA standout, will compete for the East in the Three-Point Contest against a West team led by Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love, the 2012 champion and a former UCLA star. The Slam-Dunk Contest will feature some competitors from Sunday’s All-Star Game, including the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, and they will take on defending champion Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors. Lillard is participating in competitions all three days.

Saturday’s daylong coverage on TNT also features a special on Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson and an in-depth discussion of dunking that will include retired forward/guard Tracy McGrady, a former dunk contest participant who also had one of the best dunks ever in an actual All-Star Game when he threw the ball off the backboard before jamming it through the hoop.

TNT also has the main event on Sunday, and it’s worth tuning in just to see what flashy new move or takeover performance by the league’s biggest stars will generate buzz throughout the sports world. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m., with NBA Style, and TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. The 63rd NBA All-Star Game at 8 p.m. will feature, among others, the Heat’s LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh; the Pacers’ George and  Roy Hibbert; the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul and Blake Griffin; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant; the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony; the Houston Rockets’ James Harden and Dwight Howard; the Timberwolves’ Love;  the Raptors’ DeRozan; the Trail Blazers’ Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge; and former Florida Gator Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls. Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who was voted as a starter but cannot play because of a knee injury, will take part in the All-Star Game broadcast.

The league’s showcase weekend for its top talent gives NBA TV one of its best opportunities of the season to provide insider coverage. Among the more interesting events NBA TV will broadcast:

  • All-Star Media Day, at 12:30 p.m. Friday. NBA reporters and broadcasters interview participants in All-Star Weekend.
  • NBA Inside Stuff, at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. This week’s program is of special interest to Pelicans and Magic fans because it gives them a chance to see how Ryan Anderson is doing in an interview with host Kristen Ledlow. Anderson, a sweet-shooting power forward/center who was a fan favorite in Orlando before he was traded to New Orleans, has suffered through a nightmarish year. He could miss the rest of the season while doctors determine whether he needs neck surgery to repair a herniated disk. He had to be carted off the court on a stretcher after colliding with Celtics forward Gerald Wallace during a game in early January in Boston. Before he was injured, he had been having a strong season despite trying to cope with the suicide of his  longtime girlfriend, Gia Allemand, in August.
  • East/West Practice at noon Saturday. You can watch the players and coaches as they get ready to face off in Sunday’s game. The session also will feature interviews with the all-stars who will play in the game.
  • NBA D-League All-Star Game, at 3 p.m. Saturday.
  • Commissioner’s news conference at 7 p.m. Saturday. Adam Silver will conduct his first official news conference as commissioner since taking over the position following the retirement of David Stern, who held the job for 30 years.
  • Legends Brunch at 1 p.m. Sunday. The NBA honors former star players and key contributors to the game with a luncheon.
  • Pregame Concert at 6 p.m. Sunday.  Pop star Jason Derulo, singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc, and recording artist Mack Wilds will perform in New Orleans before the showcase game.
  • Regular programs such as The Beat, NBA Game Time, and The Starters will be broadcast from New Orleans.

ESPN offers entertainment of a different kind. It will broadcast the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at 7 p.m. Friday as well as a variety of news and feature coverage on SportsCenter over the weekend. Comedian Kevin Hart, a two-time MVP in the Celebrity game, headlines a group of entertainers, ESPN analysts and former players, and WNBA players such as the Tulsa Shock’s Skylar Diggins, and the Chicago Sky’s Elena Delle Donne who will play.

On the day after All-Star Weekend, no games are scheduled because players will be traveling to rejoin their teams for games starting Tuesday. To keep the all-star vibe alive on Monday, NBA TV will feature an hourlong interview with MVP LeBron James at 9 p.m. NBA TV analyst Steve Smith, a former all-star himself, gets James to open up about a variety of topics, including the difficulties the Heat’s Big Three faced in their first season after James and Bosh teamed up with Wade in Miami.

All-Star Weekend will not be the only NBA games on TV this week. Regular-season games will be played on Wednesday, Thursday, and next Tuesday as well.

Wednesday, February 12

Dallas Mavericks at Indiana Pacers, at 7 p.m. Eastern Time, on NBA League Pass (or Fox Sports Midwest in Indiana)

Dallas is trying to hold off challengers to keep its playoff spot, and Indiana is attempting to finish the season with the league’s best record.

Memphis Grizzlies at Orlando Magic, 7 p.m., ET, on NBA League Pass (or Fox Sports Florida in Florida)

Orlando looks to head into the all-star break on a six-game home winning streak, while Memphis hopes to move closer to a playoff spot in the West.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Detroit Pistons, 7:30 p.m. ET, on NBA League Pass (or Fox Sports Detroit in Michigan)

Cleveland fired its general manager and Detroit fired its coach as both teams have hopes of getting into the playoffs  in the weak Eastern Conference.

Thursday, February 13

Brooklyn Nets at Chicago Bulls, 8 p.m., ET, on TNT

Both teams are hanging on to playoff spots in the East, despite a host of injuries.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET, on TNT

This looked like a good game when the schedules were put together, but injuries have left the Lakers closer to being in line for a top pick in the draft lottery than a spot in the playoffs.

Tuesday, February 18

NBA TV is giving you an opportunity to vote for one of five of the matchups in the league’s return to regular-season action to feature in its Fan Night this week. Go to http://www.nba.com/nbatv/fannight/ to vote for Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards, Charlotte Bobcats at Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks at Memphis Grizzlies, Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks, or San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Clippers.

These games could be the last chance you will have to see some players on the rosters with which they started the week. Among the business of the league that goes on at NBA All-Star Weekend is team general managers get together to discuss possible trades to try to improve their teams’ chances in the playoffs or position themselves to get better for next season. The NBA trade deadline is coming up at 3 p.m. Thursday, February 20, and if deals are going to be made, they likely will come close to the deadline.

Heading into All-Star Weekend, some players who had been mentioned as possible trade targets are Lakers center Pau Gasol; Rockets center Omer Asik; Raptors guard Kyle Lowry; Pistons big man Greg Monroe; the Knicks’ Anthony; the Philadelphia 76ers’ Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young, and Evan Turner; and Magic guards Afflalo and Jameer Nelson. The Wizards, Bobcats, Clippers, Cavs, Pistons, Spurs, and the Phoenix Suns all have been mentioned as teams that could be looking to upgrade their rosters for the playoffs, though not necessarily involving the players mentioned. The Boston Celtics could be buyers, sellers, or both.

And don’t forget what I said last week. There often is a lot of talk about deals that could be made. However, that talk often is a lot of noise that is more rumor than real possibility. It can come from  teams that want to acquire players (even when their current teams are not making them available), agents and other associates of players who would like to see their player moved, or from media speculation. Having said that, the wide discrepancy between the top teams and the bottom-feeders this season have some NBA insiders speculating that could spark more trade activity this year. We’ll have more on that – and maybe some completed trades to discuss – next week.

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Deanna Gugel
Deanna Gugel

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