All-Star notebook: All-Stars sound off at media circus - East Valley Tribune: Sports

All-Star notebook: All-Stars sound off at media circus

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Posted: Friday, February 13, 2009 6:33 pm | Updated: 2:03 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

To no one's surprise, Amaré Stoudemire and Shaquille O'Neal took up residency during Friday's All-Star media day, with media types numbering in the dozens and going three- and four-deep around Sheraton hotel tables in Phoenix.

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But there was life beyond Suns trade and coaching rumors, and the Shaq-Kobe Bryant-Phil Jackson reunion for Sunday's All-Star game.

LeBron James held court. He answered questions ranging from last week's 52-point outburst against New York, near triple-double against the Knicks - which followed Kobe's 61 points two days prior - to 5-foot-9 Nate Robinson in the slam dunk contest, James' legacy and the speculation surrounding his free agency in 2010.

He also went around to each of his Eastern Conference teammate's interview tables and presented them with an all-glass commemorative plaque with the East players' names engraved on it.

The package and wrapping, however, drew some lighthearted suspicions.

"(Kevin Garnett) and Paul (Pierce) thought it was a bomb or something," James said.

Garnett denied he thought it was an explosive, but "I was cautious," he said. "I thought something or someone was going to jump out at me."


At 5-9, Robinson may be shorter than almost every NBA player, which also means he fits in well with the rest of us.

Sometimes a little too well.

Robinson enjoys video games, and was playing "Call of Duty 5" on XBox Live with his brother against players he didn't know, and the slam dunk contest was brought up.

Eventually, the anonymous players asked who they were playing against, and that's when Robinson revealed himself. His gaming opponents didn't believe him, so they pulled up his bio on a computer and peppered him with questions about his birthdate and hometown.

They still didn't believe him, so when they told Robinson they lived in Oakland, Calif., he got them a couple tickets to last week's Knicks-Golden State game.

And to remove all doubt, he did a salute from Call of Duty 5 during the game.

"They came to the game and they were like, 'Ok, we believe you,'" Robinson said.


With a hoard of reporters already waiting for a while, Bryant arrived at his table 30 minutes late and answered questions for approximately 10 minutes, far less time than the other All-Stars.

He was cryptic about his absence, and was repeatedly peppered with questions about Shaq, both past and present, but kept his answers to little more than one sentence.

They won three championships together until the fussing and feuding eventually split them apart, but Bryant was asked about what was his favorite thing about playing with Shaq.

"I'm competitive all the time. All the time," Bryant said. "Shaq was laid back and liked to joke around, but when it came time, he would flip a switch and get mean, almost like he wanted to break someone's face. That's what I liked best about him."


Nearly three dozen media types crowded around Yao Ming's table, 95 percent of them were Chinese TV and Internet reporters.

The masses huddled up tightly to the reserved, somewhat nervous Yao, who answered almost every question in Chinese, but a couple American reporters chimed in on occasion, and he was asked what it meant to be the biggest global ambassador to the sport of basketball.

"That's too big for me," the 7-6 Yao said with a smile. "I don't know if I'm a global ambassador. I'm just a basketball player."


As is customary during these massive sporting events, the winner of All-Star wackiness goes to a Chinese TV reporter in his early 20s.

He wore hair down to his shoulders with an Adidas headband. He wore shorts, a T-shirt beneath a Tom Chambers No. 24 All-Star jersey to go with tube socks and a pair of Chuck Taylor All-Star shoes.

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