DALLAS-The sun made an appearance Saturday after a few days of being missing in action during a week of rare, snowy weather. Fans came out in droves for the day’s Jam Session and partygoers kept the city hopping during the wee hours.
Amanpour’s Brain Dazzles Early Risers
Saturday morning was a treat for those who were able to shake off sleep-deprivation after the non-stop activities. CNN’ chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour spoke at a “Newsmaker” breakfast sponsored by the NBA. Actually it looked like the entire CNN political news talent roster was in the house. Wolf Blitzer held court at a table near the back and several other news personalities dotted the tables in the ballroom which was filled with several hundred people.
WNBA president Donna Orender attended along with Renee Brown, chief of basketball operations and player relations, the Connecticut Sun’s Asjha Jones and the Los Angeles Sparks’ Marie Ferdinand-Harris.
Amanpour gave a quick summary of her career then a concise analysis of some of the world’s political hotspots: Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Haiti. The audience gave her a standing ovation after her talk.
Ferdinand-Harris who is Haitian, loved Amanpour’s speech and agreed with her assessment for a long-term plan of nation-building for the earthquake-devastated country. After the talk, she chatted with Wolf Blitzer who remembered her from the previous day’s introduction. In fact the two greeted each other like old friends. During Saturday night’s All-Star activities at the American Airlines Center, Ferdinand-Harris took part in an NBA Cares segment on Haiti.
Sunshine Brings Outdoor Jam Session Activities
The ongoing Jam Session at the Convention Center finally included outdoor activities and Dallasites came in droves. A non-stop flow of basketball fans of all ages filled cavernous center. The WNBA’s center court was a popular stop for youngsters. Most of the participants in the skills challenges and contests, led by players, were boys. The New York Liberty’s Shameka Christon began the day’s drills and after she finished Tulsa Shock player Scholanda Robinson picked up as another group of kids entered the court.
Need Extra Tickets? How ‘Bout An All-Star Landyard?
All-around the convention center and downtown hotels, scalpers made their moves, selling not just tickets but an assortment of bootleg NBA All-Star 2010 paraphernalia. At the Sheraton downtown ticket pickup center for NBA guests, a few scammers managed to get entrance into the hotel so they could negotiate trades for tickets based on seating maps and cover prices. The official ticket prices for Saturday’s nights activities at American Airlines Center began at $300. Tickets for Sunday’s game were slightly lower ($250 and up) since Cowboys Stadium has more seats than the AA Center.
Glitterati Central At American Airlines Center
WNBA players taking part in All-Star Saturday night performed in front of a star-studded row of floor seats. Shaquille O’Neal, Jamie Foxx, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, his wife Maria Shriver, Mary J. Blige, her music producer husband Kendu Isaacs, Spike Lee (in a bright orange jacket visible from any seat in the arena), Emmitt Smith, P. Diddy, Jay-Z, Chris Tucker and others had the best spots in the house. And Dallas native Erykah Badu performed (with teleprompter assistance) Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” after the Haiti relief presentation.
“It was nerve-racking because I had D-Wade next to me and the whole time I’m trying to gather myself and get focused, but then I started thinking of the people of Haiti and I’m like forget D-Wade, this is serious,” said Ferdinand-Harris afterwards to ESPN about her part in the NBA Cares segment. “Any time you’re in a position to use your star power and your voice to be mindful of the Haiti earthquake it’s a great opportunity.”
Becky Hammon’s Team Texas won the Haier Shooting Stars competition beating out teams that included Angel McCoughtry, Nicole Powell and Ferdinand-Harris. Outside the arena, the madhouse scene of fans and onlookers created chaos in the streets. The VIP entrance for athletes, celebrities and corporate sponsors was paparazzi central as huge, gaudy white armored car limos dropped off and picked up their passengers.
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