As eventful as my first day in New York City was for NBA All-Star Weekend, it was just the beginning. I had three more days of switching hotels, dragging my overpacked suitcase through Times Square and having my cab driver take me 100 blocks in the wrong direction. Here’s a running diary of my remaining time in the Big Apple.
Friday, Feb. 13 (Day 2)
12 p.m. – Check out of my hotel. Pull my suitcase to new hotel, The Paramount. A DJ is playing in the lobby, and it’s not even 1 p.m. Things could get weird here. Drop my bags off, since I can’t check in until 4, and head to SoHo.
1 p.m. – Arrive at SoHo Grand Hotel to check out adidas’s All-Star Suite. Nod to the bouncer. Grab what appears to be a fancy pizza bagel from the spread. It’s delicious. Enter the suite.
Though it’s nowhere near as big as the Jordan Brand space I walked through yesterday, adidas did a nice job with its All-Star setup. Plus, they have the advantage of being the official gear provider for the All-Star Game, and the uniforms and other apparel on display are on point. The shorts, jersey and warm-up jackets are adorned with five silver stars, one for each of the five boroughs, which is a nice touch.
Kicks like the J Wall 1, D Rose 5 Boost and D Lillard 1 are displayed in glass cases, boasting white uppers with gold accents that light up if you use the flash on your camera. This trick looks best on the Xeno ZX Flux (see above), as the fish scale upper illuminates into an array of purples, greens and blues when the flash hits it. These will probably sell out in 20 seconds, tops.
2 p.m. – Attempt to check out the Nike SNKR Box, a pop-up shop on Bowery, to no avail. You need an appointment, and the security guard doesn’t flinch when I calmly state, “I, sir, am a Zirm. Let me in or else.” I’ll try again later.
2:15 p.m. – Lunch across the street at Phebe’s. Ingest some salmon. Fist pump. Go back outside (Don’t worry. I paid my bill.)
3 p.m. – Check out Kith, a clothing/sneaker shop in SoHo. Customers are hip. Drake’s new album, If You’re Reading This You’re Too Late, which dropped overnight, is emanating from the speakers. I haven’t listened to it yet, but it sounds like a tasty jam. I venture over to an employee and ask if they have hoodies. He gives me a stare that says, “of course we have hoodies, you simpleton,” and kind of looks like he wants to punch me. To avoid said punch, I purchase a hoodie and go on my way.
Feb. 14 (Day 3)
Valentine’s Day in New York City. What could be more romantic? Sitting in on a Nike design panel, that’s what.
2 p.m. – Check out the House of Hoops connected to Madison Square Garden. There are approximately one billion people milling about. Shoes are being copped like hotcakes. Rumors of in-store appearances by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving begin to circulate, increasing my chances of being trampled by about 100 percent. I sneak out before the chaos and grab a cab to Brooklyn.
Odell Beckham Jr., Leo Chang and Scottie Pippen
3 p.m. – Arrive at Nike Zoom City Bank. Look for the media entrance. Sent to a side door. Enter to the incredulous expression on the face of a crew member. Exit side door. Finally get my media credential and enter the venue. Nike has set up shop inside an old bank. Behind the stage is a series of video monitors stacked on top of each other, showing visuals of Nike’s All-Star collection.
I wander over to a counter in the back where miniature Air Force 1s are spitting out of a 3D printer. I am given the 86th creation out of 1,000—86 + 2 = 88, the last two numbers of the year I was born, clearly some sort of sign from the cosmos.
The event begins. Out strolls Big Tigger, who once hosted a show on BET called The Basement in which music channels played videos and rappers wore XXXL throwback jerseys. He brings out Scottie Pippen. A group of middle schoolers on a field trip lose their freaking minds. Pippen grins as if to say, “Yeah, I still got it.” Odell Beckham Jr. comes out too, and so does Leo Chang, who has worked on kicks like the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signature lines. They talk kicks. Pippen announces he does not wear LeBrons. Chang says Irving was heavily involved in the creation of the Kyrie 1. Beckham Jr. looks like he needs a nap.
J.R. Smith, a man of the people
Later, former New York Knick and current Cleveland Cavalier J.R. Smith comes out wearing a pairing of shoes you might find on aliens when they first visit Earth. He is revered by the crowd and takes a bunch of selfies with his adoring subjects. Shoe-untying antics aside, Smith looks like a guy I’d watch a game with.
Feb. 15 (Day 4)
10:30 a.m. – I am in Queens, staying with a friend. He tells me it’s about half an hour to my final event of the weekend, an open run with Jordan Brand at Terminal 23, Carmelo Anthony’s sort of personal practice court in the city. I find a cab. I say “West 32nd please.” He takes me to E. 130th.
11 a.m. – I am now headed all the way back downtown Manhattan, late for my event and the target of a lot of anger from my cab driver.
11:30 a.m. – $50 later, I arrive. I am given a jersey, shorts, socks and a pair of sparkling Air Jordan XX9 “Pearls” to wear. ESPN’s Chris Broussard walks in at the same time. We chat. He is nice. I say, “see you on the court!” I leave the locker room as if we’ve been playing pick-up ball since we were kids. We haven’t.
11:50 a.m. – My first game. I score our team’s first bucket after taking a great wraparound pass at the rim. I run back down the court and do that thing NBA players do to acknowledge an assist: I raise my arm and point my index finger in the direction of the assister. It feels cool.
12:15 p.m. – We lose. Dang it.
12:30 p.m. – Game 2. Another layup. Another loss. But man, these shoes look good on me. I am exhausted. It’s time to go home.
See you in Toronto in 2016, NBA All-Star Weekend. Don’t go changing.