- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 8, 2001

It's party time, baby. The NBA All-Star Circus is about to arrive. Like Ringling Brothers, there will be a parade of players down Pennsylvania Avenue. It will take place about 3 a.m. tomorrow, down the yellow lines in the middle of the street, with a police escort, followed by a contest to see who can score the highest on the breathalyzer test.

Sorry, I got confused. That's a Wizards team meeting.

The NBA All-Star Game has grown into a four-day party, with players not just from basketball but from other sports as well mixing in with actors, politicians, musicians and corporate CEOs all in the name of the great game of basketball.

If James Naismith were alive, he would be smiling. Of course, he would probably be loaded by game time, so of course he would be smiling.

Yes, they do eventually play a game at the end of this orgy, not that anyone particularly cares about it anymore. Shaquille O'Neal doesn't seem to care enough, because he has declared he won't play, opting to nurse his injured body. Kobe Bryant may join him. Vince Carter relented at the last minute and agreed to make an appearance.

Maybe they should call it the NBA Some-Stars Game.

What kind of statement is that about the lack of presence of Michael Jordan here in Washington? Here you have the greatest player in the history of the game, the president of the team that is hosting the All-Star Game and some of the league's biggest stars don't even feel compelled to play. What does that say about His Invisibleness?

You know the irony of it? Jordan's face will probably be all over the place this weekend. I walked into a Kinko's the other day and there he was, Mr. "I'm nobody's show pony" himself, on the cover of a magazine produced for Kinko's, called "Impress."

At least it wasn't the cover of Equine Monthly.

The article was titled "How Celebrities Brand Themselves: What You Can Learn." I've learned it's amazing just how easily a franchise can be run from fairways and casinos. I'm impressed.

There won't be any reason to go to the Bahamas this weekend, though. Washington is ready to party like it's 1999 something Wizards coach Leonard Hamilton would love to do. That would mean he would still be coaching at the Unsity of Miami.

Some of the NBA's biggest names are playing host to these parties. Kevin Garnett is having a private party, as well hosting an "NBA All-Star Bash," along with Source Sports. Alonzo Mourning is having a private party as well.

Magic Johnson's charitable foundation is having a VIP reception, fashion show and concert featuring Macy Gray. The Congressional Black Caucus is having a reception and dinner that will conflict with NBA commissioner David Stern's reception, the NBA Players Wives' Fashion Show and Dikembe Mutumbo's reception.

It's hard to figure out which one to go to. What makes it easier is that I haven't been invited to any of them.

Supposedly, there is something called "Shaq's All-Star Party," as well as one thrown by Allen Iverson, with Chris Webber and Kobe, called "Block Party," with DC Live and Platinum.

Could Shaq and Kobe really not play in the game but have the nerve to show up for parties? Is there no shame anymore?

Silly me. That was taken from the White House along with the silverware.

Steve Francis is having a party. Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse are co-hosting one. Gary Payton is having a bash, or bashing a teammate, one of the two, and Tracy McGrady is hosting a party for Adidas.

The one that should be interesting is Charles Oakley's "Old School" Party you know, the Charles Oakley who said in Tuesday's Washington Times that the NBA is "like a sliding board going down. It's a product that's going to get recalled in a couple of years. I'm not going to miss it. It's trash."

Party on, Charles.

Reebok is having a party featuring Musiq Soulchild, with Marc Barnes and Republic Gardens, with DJ Biz Markie.

Just like the Inauguration, isn't it?

The Reebok party is being hosted by three football players: Jevon Kearse, Edgerrin James and Jamal Lewis. Jamal will have to split time between his party and the Baltimore Ravens Party, hosted by teammate Jamie Sharper.

I think they're going to implement that Super Bowl surveillance system for the Ravens' party.

There's the Playboy party, the NBA Players Association party and, of course, the Michael Jordan Hidden Beach Party (so that's where he has been hiding).

There are even parties after the game. Payton is hosting one, as well as Iverson.

And after all of the festivities are over, if you are looking for a way to recover from all of the partying and perhaps turn your life around, Charles Barkley might consider offering some counseling about his own program to a good health and a better life.

Just take it one six-pack at a time.

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