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2019 NBA ALL STAR DIARIES (PHOTOS) - The sights and sounds of Queen City


PhilBoxing.com





CHARLOTTE - The captain's remorseful voice echoed throughout an airplane cockpit filled with anxious passengers.

There was engine trouble and the 737 that was scheduled to fly us to Charlotte international airport at 9:35 pm last Friday had to return to Gate B-25. After spending nearly two hours of waiting and fiddling with our cellphones, we were told to deplane and scamper over to Gate A-9 where another jet was waiting.

All told, it took over 190 minutes before we were finally airborne. To placate its dismayed customers, Southwest Airlines was kind enough to offer extra snacks and one free adult beverage per passenger, but the irrevocable, God honest truth remained: we can never retrieve the time lost on that tarmac.

Crap happens and I'm certain there are many more stories involving horrified travelers out there. You can only hope never to be a part of it.

It was 4 am Saturday (Sunday afternoon back in Cebu) when I arrived at my hotel here in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I will cover the 68th NBA All-Star Game. My eyes, reddened by all the commotion, were burning but not tired enough to sleep. One hour later, though, with the aid of lights snacks, I was knocked out cold.



For what has been an annual rite the past decade or so, PhilBoxing.com was again credentialed by the NBA to chronicle the mid-season classic. This time, we were represented by yours truly and Anthony Rozic, a longtime NBA writer with a few Finals coverages under his belt.

This is the second time since 1991 that the city of Charlotte, also known as Queen City, has hosted the All-Star. And it has once again proved to be more than able.

STAR PRACTICE. After shaking off the ill-effects of sleep deprivation, Anthony and I headed over to the Bojangles Coliseum, an 8,600-seat arena along 2700 east Independence boulevard, where Team Giannis and Team LeBron conducted media day and practiced for today's showdown.



LeBron and Golden State Warriors ace Steph Curry drew the most cheers, but Anthony Davis, whose impending divorce with the Pelicans has swept New Orleans like a tsunami, got perhaps the most stares. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving spent a lot of time signing memorabilia for fans at the tunnel before exiting to their charter buses. Other stars simply jogged past the screaming public.

As day surrendered to night, the action shifted 3.8 miles away to the Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets where fans were treated to the Skills Challenge, the Three-point shoot-out and the slam dunk contest.

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics jump-started the electric evening by winning the Skills Challenge courtesy of a half-court heave that relegated Atlanta Hawks rookie Trae Young to second place. Curry, the hometown darling, was heavily favored to out-shoot the 3-point field, but he could't put off the fire that was Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets, who scored 26 to Steph's 24 in the final round.



The slam dunk championship was fun but it did not recapture the savage beauty that defined the competition during the glory days of way back when. In fairness to the young turks, though, how can they possibly overshadow Michael Jordan, the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT), Dominique Wilkins "The Human Highlight Film," and Vince Carter who used to roll as "Half-man. Half-amazing."

But if that was fun, the All-Star Game itself figures to take the cake.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Homer D. Sayson.


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