The voice on the other end of the phone crackled.
“I’m taking a little catnap. I went out last night, so I’m paying for it, but I had to,” said Storm C Ashley Robinson. A Dallas native, the NBA All-Star game is in her backyard and Robinson has been working since Wednesday to promote the men and women’s pro leagues.
She was originally going to blog for us each night, but Robinson has been jammed with events — commuting about 20-minutes from her home in Grand Prairie. Then there are the parties.
“I feel like I can’t say no to anything because I don’t know when this will happen again in my own city,” said Robinson, whose hometown is in a trial-run for the Super Bowl next year. “I’m trying to get the whole All-Star experience and it’s been so much fun.”
So, instead of writing, Robinson and I are going to have morning chats to recap her day. Here’s a little transcript of our talk Saturday…
“I can’t believe the amount of people that are in this city right now. Jayda, it’s crazy. Dallas hasn’t seen this before. A lot of people are excited about All-Star and it’s never been here before. Dallas already has crazy fans for the Mavs, Cowboys, and Stars. Now, it’s bringing so many from out-of-town.”
So, you’re staying downtown. You can’t be going back-and-forth.
“I’m going back-and-forth. They don’t pay for locals to stay. It’s only a 20 to 30-minute drive, but days like the snowstorm day it was more like an hour drive just because I had to drive so slow.”
Yeah that was wild. Worst-ever in Dallas. But let’s go back. Yesterday started off with building a playground? I saw some pictures on the internet by Cheryl Coward, a blogger at Hoopfeed.com (photo of Robinson on far left, WNBA president Donna Orender and Denver coach George Karl on the right).
“We went and helped build those playgrounds and painted different rails for kids to put up at their playgrounds. That was actually at a school that was probably 10-minutes from where I grew-up. I didn’t plan on getting dirty, so I wore the wrong shoes.”
Didn’t you put trash bags over them?
“Yeah, this lady did it for me. You know me, I was all for that. But eventually I stepped in enough mud that it didn’t matter. They were these cute little suede shoes — you know boots that you fold over and tuck your jeans in. My sister bought them for me for Christmas. And they were my favorite color — green, but looked kind of gray. I was sad. I’ll just have to replace them and hopefully she doesn’t read this (laughs).”
Didn’t I see you in a picture with former Sonic Sam Perkins, too, did you talk to him?
“I went and introduced myself and he knew who I was. I was kind of excited to meet him because I’ve heard great things about him. We were honorary coaches for the wheelchair game. He was telling me his team was going to win. It was cool because I knew he was a big deal in Seattle. But that game was Thursday. That was a really busy day.”
OK, I have my days all mixed up and I’m not even there. So, then what happened after the playground?
“What did we do? Oh, we had a WNBA reception at the American Airlines Arena to welcome a lot of people that maybe are investors or partners with the WNBA and people who are thinking about partnering with the WNBA. We got to walk around and meet a lot of different people. All the NBA legends were there and some current players were there.”
Anybody in particular that you got to meet?
“I talked to Dominique Wilkins and saw AC Green, but I didn’t go talk to him. You know how you just don’t want to bug anybody? And I met John Starks.”
(Gasp!) You met John Starks? John Starks is my favorite.
“Yep. And we met the commissioner of the NBA, David Stern. I mentioned that Seattle really misses our NBA team and he looked at me like, ‘I’ve heard that a time or two.’ (Laughs). I couldn’t help it, I had to mention it.”
(Laughs) I’m sure Seattle will love you for it. That’s classic, Ashley, but it’s not exactly party etiquette.
“Well, let them know I have Seattle’s back! This is the first time I’ve met the man and I mentioned it. (Laughs). He just looked at me.”
We’re just hitting the weekend and you sound like you’ve been doing a lot of work.
“It is a lot of work, but I’ve met great people.”
And you knew it was coming. That’s why I wanted to hear from you, because it’s so massive and you’re a local. You know how to get around and have an inside track to the All-Star game, that’s got to be cool, right?
“Yeah. It gives me an opportunity to do community work for my people. Kids that are growing up in the same city I’m growing up in. It’s nice to be able to give back to those kids because I give back to the Seattle community and the WNBA community. But I don’t really do work at home. This was a way to meet people so I can go back and know the right person to contact about volunteering. And it’s fun making connections with the business people in Dallas. But a lot of people I’ve met aren’t from Dallas. I’ve met a lot of PR people, too. There’s a lot of PR people here.”
I’ve made mention several times how hard it’s looking for you to come back (to the Storm), from my perspective. With those connections, are you thinking about Plan B, C, or D if the WNBA doesn’t work out this summer?
“Life after basketball is always important to me because I never know when my last season is going to be, but I’ve come to a point in my career where I can’t stress out over it. You just got to go in ready and hope you play well enough and you’re who the coach wants on the team. Without that guaranteed in writing, you just have to roll with it like I’ve done every year.”
Any talk about your unrestricted free agent status?
“I want to be in Seattle and from what I know, (coach) Brian (Agler); I think he still wants me in Seattle. I’ll know when I sign.”
That’s true. So, after the reception, did you change and go somewhere else?
“Yeah, I went out last night and it was crazy. Too many people to have fun. But the security was really good. No fights or anything. You were just pushed through the club, it was so packed.”
Where did you go?
“LeBron and Drake’s party at a club called AMPM. My friend Remi Ayodele from the Saints, he just won the Super Bowl, and he’s part owner of the club. It was crazy, they were turning people away. You couldn’t even stand in line outside the club. Even NBA players couldn’t get in. Luckily, Remi calmed down long enough to notice I was standing there. He just picked me up over the rail and brought me into the club. He can pick me up. The last time that happened to me I was 10 and my Dad was carrying me for some reason.”
(Laughs) Are you serious? Wow. You’re 6-foot-4. Slim, but 6-4.
“That shows you how big a freakin’ NFL defensive tackle is! So, that’s how I got into the LeBron and Drake party. I actually got carried into it. I was wearing a cute, short Coogi dress with four-inch heels, but he made sure everything was pointed in the right direction. I’ve known him since high school. Then I get in and it’s so hard to get in the VIP, but eventually I see 10 other guys I went to high school with (at South Grand Prairie). Nobody else got in VIP but me, so I felt special. LeBron and Drake are sitting there rapping and cracking jokes with each other. These are two of the biggest people in the game right now and Remi just won a Super Bowl. It was like one of those parties in the movies! I went to one of those last night. I’m sleepy, but it was cool. Then there was a private, VIP after-party, which was more of my friends from high school and I talked to Vince Young there.”
What time did you have to get up Saturday?
“I had to be up at 5 a.m. for a NBA Fit Clinic, but I left my running shoes at home and had to go back, again. The clinic was fun. This one cute little white family from New York said they’ve been coming to All-Star game for 10 years and always bring their sons. They liked us because we weren’t ‘the sleepy crew.’ I told the mom I did go out last night to Drake’s party. She said ‘I know Drake!’ They also love hip-hop. I had a really good time talking with them after the clinic.”
Funny. After your nap, you’re at it again?
“Yeah. There’s a really good group of WNBA girls here, but we’ve all been so busy, we haven’t even had time to have a dinner together. We have clinics then there’s the dunk contest and the (NBA) Players’ Association party tonight.”
Well, then I’ll talk to you Sunday. Have fun.