Kari screenshotted me this text she received a couple of weeks ago:
“Hi ladies! Quick question—do you know any basketball players in LA who would want to be stand-ins for our rehearsals at All-Star Weekend? Essentially the producers rehearse the events and we’d like to have real basketball players help the camera men set up the correct shots. Plus, you get paid!”
As we all know, Kari’s in Luxembourg. As we all know, Kari’s from LA.
“My roommate here in Luxembourg got this message from her friend who works for the NBA. Nicole, this has your name written all over it. You get to be on the court. Right next to Russ.”
She knows me so well.
I immediately texted Kari back, “I’m in.”
After officially accepting the position, one of the employees asked me if I knew anyone else who could help. Unfortunately, since it’s a paid position I couldn’t ask any of the girls. So that left me with one person and one person only athletic enough for the job— my boyfriend.
After getting Kari’s text I called my mom. At this point she’s used to it.
“This kind of stuff always happens to you. You’re in LA, none of this surprises me anymore.”
She couldn’t be more right. As excited I was to finally go to an All-Star Weekend, and not just “go” to All-Star Weekend, but PARTICIPATE in All-Star Weekend, I wasn’t all that surprised. Events and galas and premieres and shows and ceremonies are a regular in Los Angeles. There comes a point when you simply feel as if you’re always in the right place at the right time, because something is always going on in this place, all the time.
The schedule of the All-Star Weekend events were as follows:
You know when you’re a little kid (or 24) and you watch All-Star Weekend and imagine yourself doing the skills challenge and you set up an obstacle course in your backyard with cones and cups and anything you can find in your garage in order to simulate that very skills challenge?
Or when you ask your mom and dad for five ball racks and 25 basketballs (5 of which being multi-colored) for Christmas in order to correctly practice the 3pt. contest so when you’re one day called upon nothing will faze you?
That was just me?
Well, regardless of the rest of the world’s opinions, I was ready for this.
Built for this.
Born for this.
(Simply an excuse to add a cool picture I found of high school me)
Gone were the days of throwing bounce passes through hula-hoops. I was going to be on the NBA All-Star Court inside of Staples Center using the exact same stations the NBA All-Stars were going to use later that night.
Now— let’s fast forward.
One week before show time.
I’m flown out to Nashville to get semi-emergency mouth surgery.
I say mouth surgery because that sounds so much cooler than “wisdom teeth surgery.”
They were really starting to bother me. So much so that I was having a hard time eating and headaches were frequent.
I had to email the NBA.
I didn’t think I was going to make it to All-Star Weekend after all, and I didn’t want to put them in a bind. I needed to tell them so that they could find a replacement for me.
As hard as it was, the doctors weren’t going to let me fly two thousand miles across the country so soon after surgery.
I was crushed.
Surprisingly, immediately after surgery I felt fantastic. Not just because I was hopped up on pain meds, but I really didn’t feel any pain. I hardly bled.
(Don't I look totally "with it")?
The next day I felt better than the first.
And the next day I felt better than the second.
And the third day…
Okay, I’ll stop.
But I felt so good that I knew I could make it back to LA in time for at least the last few days of rehearsals.
My mom booked me a flight.
I made it back Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately, I was unable to participate in much. But I was able to watch boyfriend Sean light it up. He was an all-star.
He played the part of Joel Embiid.
And boy did he shine!
He's the one in the yellow. Shining.
On Sunday, hours before the game, Sean rehearsed the starting lineups with Kevin Hart.
(There's Kevin. If you can see him).
While they were on stage having a ball being best buds and all, I got to watch with the producers.
Queen Latifah, Ludacris, Adam Devine, and Pharrell were taking their turns one by one performing their songs right in front of me.
I had my own personal concert.
As I stood there watching Sean play Joel, Adam Devine sing as if he’s a singer, and Queen Latifah bring the house down I couldn’t help but smile.
Sure, I didn’t get to make 25/25 3 pointers and sign a 10-day NBA contract because someone would have noticed me and I would have gone viral and become rich and famous, but I did get to stand in the middle of the All-Star court amongst some of the biggest names in entertainment all because I was a women’s basketball player at UCLA and I live in Los Angeles, California.
(And, because Kari asked me to, of course).
Ladies and gentlemen, it doesn’t get much better than that.