The biggest sports-related event Charlotte has ever hosted was about so much more than a basketball game. While it was impossible to attend the hundreds of events being hosted around Buzz City, we sure tried to get to as many as we could.
Here were 10 of our favorites — not including the game itself:
We got to see the ultimate transformation of Epicentre nightlife spots, including Suite Charlotte and Howl At The Moon. The venues were barely recognizable after sponsors swooped in with various activations to draw fans into a multimedia NBA experience.
A massive screen featuring scenes from the Nike film “Own the Game” looped in the lobby area. Shoes were seen museum-style in a glass display, and personalized T-shirts were pressed on site.
Bojangles’ Coliseum featured an array of Rising Star events Friday. The young stars laughed and messed around on the court after official press conferences. There were some light three-point competitions followed by some high-flying dunks and half-court shots. Then the competition got serious at the The Rising Stars All-Star Game.
Kids in red shirts flooded the Charlotte Convention Center on Friday while former and current NBA stars discretely showed up on makeshift mini-basketball courts and coached up the youngsters. The kids seemed less starstruck than members of the international media. Dirk Nowitzki, Kawhi Leonard, Joel Embiid and Governor Roy Cooper were among big names in attendance. Mitch Kupcheck was there — scouting for young talent.
Dr. Oz tried to steal the show with a few hustle plays and showed off his flowy Michael J. Fox-style locks, but it was Ray Allen and Steve Smith who garnered the most oohs and ahhs at Friday’s game. N.C. native J.B. Smoove provided comedy with his clownish antics. Other notable players included podcaster Brad Williams, former Duke star Jay Williams, Quavo, Rapsody, and James Shaw Jr., who famously wrestled an AR-15 from a gunman at a Waffle House last year.
We rubbed elbows with celebs including Dr. J, Kenny Smith, Chris Tucker, Wolf Blitzer, Steven A. Smith, Hasan Minhaj and Charles Barkley on Friday night. We also got to check out JBL’s Sounds of the City exhibit, including Kemba Walker’s Charlotte-inspired song. The private bash included a performance by Kenny Smith himself.
Street basketball never looked better after And1, along with the Illuminaries muralist team, visited Cordelia Park on Saturday. KG hosted the rededication of the freshly painted basketball court. A slew of local politicians and city leaders came out and joined neighborhood families who were thrilled to be around soon-to-be Hall-of-Famer Kevin Garnett.
Snoop and DJ Aurielle Sayeh played to a laid-back audience sipping on Heist beer in their NoDa taproom on Saturday. Levi’s sponsored the event and gave away retro fanny packs. Snoop went out of his way to take pictures individually with most fans, making him the most accessible celebrity of the week.
Snug Harbor collaborated with Freaquncy360 and had a series of DJs perform including Kil Ripkin, Blow Your Head, and De La Soul’s DJ Maseo. The relaxed, diverse crowd of all ages danced for hours and mingled with the DJ behind the famous hip hop hit “Me, Myself, and I” on Saturday night.
Bleacher Report took over the Music Factory on Sunday to host B/R x NC. There were Rising Stars playing H-O-R-S-E before an excited crowd. There were battling DJs and interactive basketball-themed video games. 2 Chainz performed before the All-Star Game and J. Cole performed afterward at the Fillmore.