Follow me on Facebook William G. McCray III and Obnoxious.tv with William G. McCray III on Twitter @WilliamGMcCray and Instagram @SirWilliamGMcCrayIII to keep up on the latest! Obnoxious Sports……On Friday, February 11th, 336 international media members from 40 countries and territories descended upon Toronto, Ontario, Canada to cover NBA All-Star 2016, the first NBA All-Star to be held outside of the United States. With at least 17 international television and radio networks from countries including the Philippines, China, and Japan to do live onsite commentary, NBA All-Star 2016 will provide fans in 215 countries and territories with access in 49 languages on their televisions, computers, mobile phones, and tablets.
To kick off NBA All-Star 2016, members of the media were given the opportunity to speak with the All-Star participants during the break’s main “Media Day”. This is a chance for reporters and writers to get video clips, sound bites, and photos of the All-Stars in a more informal setting. Questions can range from serious to reflective to quirky. However, if one has never been to a Media Day, it can be a bit overwhelming.
Here is the scoop: members of the media gather in a large conference room of a local hotel, like this year’s grand ballroom of the Sheraton Centre Toronto. Within the grand ballroom, several podiums are evenly spaced out. At each podium is a draped table, a chair, and an ASB backdrop. Advance copies of the players’ “seating assignments” are distributed via email showing which player will be sitting at which podium. What typically occurs is that the Western Conference All-Stars come out, speak for approximately 45 minutes, and then the Eastern Conference All-Stars come out and answer questions.
The tricky part is that several players come onto the podiums roughly at the same time. This means a bit of strategy must come into play in order to get proper coverage. For instance, those media members who need to get quotes from all three Golden State Warriors participants (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymon Green) must decide where to stand first. Real estate around these podiums is key, as the more popular players will have not only reporters huddled around the podium with their phones and voice recorders, but the television cameras from the back will be pushing forward as well. Additionally, being in the front of the podium obviously provides unobstructed views for pictures and better position to have that person’s questions answered than someone at the back of the crowd. Media at the podiums can range from 1-2 people back to 10-12 people deep.For example, this was Klay Thompson’s podium:
In contrast, with this year being Kobe Bryant’s last All-Star, his podium was surrounded like this for the entire 45 minutes:
Speaking of Kobe, something interesting happened at Media Day. Despite the seating assignments, Kobe actually came out onto an empty podium across the grand ballroom from where he was supposed to be sitting. In a flash, members of the media who happened to be standing nearby started running over to where Kobe was and attempted to throw questions at him. When the throngs of media in front of Kobe’s actual assigned podium got wind of this, the media gaggle collectively attempted to move over to where Kobe was until it was indicated to Kobe that he was, in fact, at the wrong podium. Before he got up and walked over to his assigned podium, this writer was able to snap a photo of the smartly-dressed Kobe which would have been nearly impossible by his actual assigned podium:
Then come the actual questions. Many of the seasoned journalists ask serious questions regarding possible trades, strategies of teams, or outlooks on the team’s record so far. The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook commented that he always gives 100% on both sides of the ball because both offense and defense are important. Others ask the player’s thoughts on the particular All-Star weekend itself, whether it be their first, whether the player represents the host city’s team, or to comment on another All-Star. The LA Clippers’ Chris Paul spoke out in favor of his teammate, J.J. Reddick, who is participating in Saturday’s Foot Locker Three Point Contest. “What makes J.J. such a great player is how competitive he is. He’s like me in that we don’t just do anything for fun; we compete. I’m excited for him.”
Other reporters have targeted questions depending on their affiliation, whether it be city, state, or country. For instance, several questions were asked of Draymond Green by the Detroit Free Press because Green hails from Michigan. Some ask really off the wall questions like how Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler’s fish are doing because he had a custom-made “boombox” aquarium construted and featured on Animal Planet’s show “Tanked”. One reporter asked LeBron James to name three famous Canadians not named Drake (after the hip-hop star). James replied without missing a beat, “Tristan (Thompson), Cory Joseph (from the Toronto Raptors), and Andrew Wiggans (from the Minnesota Timberwolves).”
When media members are done at one player’s podium, they usually hurry to another player’s podium before they depart, depending on how crowded the podium is. Media members also start “reserving” space around the podium for the next player to sit there. After all the players leave, then there is a little time left over for journalists to film intros, wrap-ups, or even start drafting and editing the article or piece. Overall, Media Day is pretty much a swirling ball of excited chatter, buzzing, and movement for a solid two hours, but it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Especially when an All-Star like Chicago’s Jimmy Butler gives a shout-out to the Filipino fans: “To all of our fans in the Philippines, thank you for loving the sport!”