Sights and sounds as All-Star weekend gets under way

Doug Collins gives Evan Turner some advice during a game.
Doug Collins gives Evan Turner some advice during a game.
Posted: February 19, 2011

LOS ANGELES - Driving a taxi to the airport in Houston very early Thursday morning, the cabdriver found out that his passenger was from the Philadelphia area.

"Did you ever hear of Doylestown?" Ben the cabbie asked.

Turns out that, after coming over from Ghana, in the early 1970s, Ben spent some time in Doylestown with his best friend, who had also come from the African country.

"I became a huge basketball fan," he said. "In fact, my first son, I named after my best friend. My second son, I named Julius, after Doctor J."

And so started All-Star Weekend. Just goes to show how far-reaching this NBA thing is. And to think there might be a work stoppage after this season.

Yesterday, at a local hotel, the members and coaches of this year's All-Star teams were made available to the media. Tables were set up around two huge ballrooms. One-by-one, the players made their grand entrance down a huge escalator, took their seats and answered questions, ranging from serious to ridiculous (someone asked Dwight Howard how he kept his muscles if he eats Skittles). Here are some highlights:

* Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, head coach of the Eastern Conference for the second time, was asked what he thought about the job Sixers coach Doug Collins is doing. Without hesitation, he said: "He is the coach of the year. Nobody has done a better job than Doug Collins, because they didn't make a lot of moves. This is virtually the same team. They are a different team, they play different, they play together.

"I love watching [Andre] Iguodala play. When you watch Andre Iguodala, now he's the star of the team and the best role player at the same time. I don't think he would have done that last year or in years past. He has bought in to Doug. You can see it in his play. I just don't think anyone has done a better job than Doug Collins, I just think he has changed the culture. I don't really like it because we have to play against them, but he's done a really nice job."

* Earlier, at the rookie-sophomore practice, Comcast SportsNet's Dei Lynam joked to Chris Webber, doing work for NBA TV and TNT, that one of his former colleagues was doing a good job with the Sixers.

"Oh, you mean Eric Snow," Webber said. He quickly caught himself and heaped praise upon Collins, who used to be an analyst at TNT. Snow is the color analyst for Sixers games on Comcast SportsNet.

* Another good Rivers moment came when he was asked about coaching all these stars. He recalled a story from his first All-Star coaching stint in 2008.

"We were in New Orleans and before the game, LeBron [James] stood up and spoke to the team, and he was serious about winning. They [the East] had gotten beat pretty good the year before [153-132 in Las Vegas], and LeBron wasn't happy about it. These guys are competitive. They want to compete against each other. That makes things a lot easier for me."

After his speech in 2008, James went out and posted 27 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in leading the East to a 134-128 win. James took the MVP honors.

* Ray Allen, one of four Celtics on the East squad, was asked who would be the fifth player on the floor tomorrow if Rivers played him, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo at the same time.

"Well, I think you could go with LeBron or Dwyane [Wade]," he said. "Does it really matter? Anyone could go out there and we'd be fine."

* Chris Silva is perhaps the man of the weekend. The Temple grad, who has done a terrific job for Oklahoma City's website, will start a new job on Monday. Where, you might ask?

"I'll be writing and coming up with ideas on good ways to get the Playmates incorporated in different things involving sports and pop culture things," said Silva, 29.

Some guys have all the luck.

* Upon seeing a reporter with a Daily News credential, Hall of Famer Bill Walton stopped and said, "Such sad news about Phil. What a great man he was. My sympathy to all of Philadelphia."

Walton, of course, was talking about a fellow Hall of Famer, Daily News legend Phil Jasner, who died in December.

* Philly's own Dr. Jack Ramsay was at the announcement for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame's 12 finalists, including Philadelphia University coach Herb Magee. He remembered how he went to see West Catholic play while he was a coach at Saint Joseph's. He went to see Jim Lynam, but because he got there late and had no way to identify players, he thought Magee was Lynam, and didn't realize his mistake until after the game. Lynam ended up being Ramsay's point guard on Hawk Hill, while Magee had a tremendous playing and coaching career at Textile, now Philly U.

* Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love has 42 straight double-double games, closing in on the 44 Moses Malone set with the Sixers in 1982-83. He is also a big fan: "My dad [former NBA player Stan Love] gave me a lot of highlights of Moses Malone. My dad told me that if you don't have a good shot, just throw it up there and go get it back and try to tip it in. A lot of that was the kind of work Moses used to do. Out of anybody this weekend, I am definitely looking forward to meeting him."

* It's been a long day after a hellish day of travel on Thursday. Most of the writers are miserable and headed to the hotel hospitality room. Chris Silva, the one headed to, he's been smiling all day. *

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