Superman Takes Over New OrleansHere is the link to my third All-Star Weekend report for HoopsHype.com:
Superman Takes Over New Orleans
I had quite a busy day and not everything that happened made it into that article. Here are some other news and notes from my experiences on Saturday:
LeBron James has repeatedly said that Kobe Bryant is the league’s best player—a stance that James reiterated at Friday's media availability—but Bryant had an interesting take on who he thinks deserves the award this year, Chris Paul: “His maturity is kind of a throwback to the old school style of play. He distributes the ball and makes his teammates better. He’s a good defensive player. He’s doing two or three different jobs for his ball club. I enjoy his competitive spirit. He plays hard and he wants to win by any means necessary. Nowadays, a lot of players sugarcoat that or try to disguise or hide how competitive they are but he’s not one of them; he goes for it.”
After the All-Star practice on Saturday, I went back to the French Quarter to try to track down Jude Acers, the chess master who famously holds court at the Gazebo on Decatur Street. I just missed him on Thursday but his time I was very pleased to see him sitting at his chess table wearing his customary distinctive red beret. When I got closer it became apparent that he was giving a chess lesson to a young student, so I sat down quietly and watched for a few minutes. During a break in the lesson, I inquired about playing a quick game against Acers after he finished the lesson. He normally takes on all comers for $5 a game, so I thought that he would appreciate the business but suddenly he got all skittish and started packing up his stuff, gruffly telling me that he would not play a game. I’ve never heard of him acting like that, so I tried to calm him down by congratulating him on his fine performance in the recent World Senior Championship and telling him that I had traveled quite a distance to cover the NBA All-Star Game and would really enjoy having the opportunity to play a quick game against him. I asked when his lesson would be over or if it would be better to come back at a different time but he refused to even say when he would be available. That is hardly a good way to either promote the game of chess or his business and I found the whole encounter not only disappointing but also simply bizarre. He told me that I would have to leave, apparently failing to understand that (1) I have every right to stand wherever I want to on a public sidewalk and (2) I had no intention of staying there to engage in more fruitless dialogue with him. Although it would have been cool to play a game against an American chess icon, in light of his rude behavior I certainly will not seek him out again, nor could I recommend in good conscience that any other visitor do so.
After that waste of time, I headed back to the Marriott and then took a shuttle bus to the New Orleans Arena. I got there in time to take advantage of the wonderful media hospitality at the Superdome. It seems surreal to eat dinner at roughly where the 50 yard line normally is in the building where, among many other things, William “Refrigerator” Perry scored a touchdown in the Chicago Bears’ 46-10 Super Bowl victory in 1986. I enjoyed a wide ranging basketball conversation with several journalists from Turkey and ESPN’s John Hollinger and Chris Ramsay.
posted by David Friedman @ 2:38 PM