Our very own staff writer, Lance Fell, had the opportunity to attend the 2010 NBA All-Star game in Dallas. Here is his recap of the sights and sounds of the game, his quest for a Tim Duncan jersey, exclusive photos from Dallas and fan interviews. Enjoy!
Being the die-hard Spurs fan that I am, Dallas has always been the last place I’ve ever wanted go. Countless times I’ve told myself I would never step into Dallas County, but with Tim Duncan’s hall of fame career winding down and talented forwards like Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony heading into the prime of their careers; this could be Duncan’s last start as an All-Star, and there was no way, Dallas or not, I was going to miss this.
My two friends and I arrived in Dallas late Friday night and stayed at my cousin’s place right smack downtown. The next day, with no tickets to the Jam Session or to All Star Saturday night, we jumped on the Dallas Dart Rail and headed to the home of our bitter rivals, the American Airline Center (AAC). Now, as a Spurs fan, I’ve done my fare share of hating on Dallas, but as I rode the Dart through downtown Dallas, I was blown away by how beautiful it really is. I actually felt bad for talking so much trash about a city that is actually incredibly stunning.
Riding through Dallas, it was like a riding through NBA heaven. Every corner was plastered with pictures of All Stars. Dwight Howard was on every street sign, and the entire side of one building was covered with a picture of LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki. But for all the pictures of Brandon Roy and every other All Star, I had not seen a single picture of Tim Duncan. How could this be? I thought I probably just missed them while I was looking at all the different things and brushed it off my shoulder. Surely, we would see portraits of Timmy at the AAC.
When we arrived at the AAC I wasn’t disappointed. As soon as I stepped off the Dart, there was a banner with Duncan, Dirk, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. Finally some Timmy D. in this town. Outside the AAC, huge portraits of Paul Pierce, Dwayne Wade and the other All Stars hung from the sides of pillars surrounding it. We took pictures with the LeBron, and Dwight Howard portraits, but the one portrait I wanted to take a picture with, we couldn’t find. We walked a complete circle around the AAC and saw not one portrait of Tim Duncan. Not one portrait of the 12 time All-Star and four time NBA Champion could be found.
So we walked into the gift shop of the AAC, and immediately I went looking for a Duncan jersey. If this is Timmy’s last start, I’m definitely getting this jersey. So I walked through the fan shop in my Tim Duncan shirt surrounded by Mavericks fans. I could feel their eyes glaring at me, and I loved every second of it. The walls were covered with Mavs gear, but not one shirt had the image of the Larry O’Bryant trophy on it. That image, sorry Mavs fans, is on Spurs gear. I walked up to the All Star jersey wall and began my search for the coveted Duncan Jersey. I sorted through what seemed like a million Dirk and Kobe jerseys, but no Duncan. Really? I thought to myself. In fact, the only item in the entire store with any picture of Timmy was an All-Star shirt with every All-Stars face drawn like a cartoon on the front. Needless to say, I was beginning to get a little annoyed with this theme of anti-Duncan going on.
So we left the AAC and headed to the Dallas Convention Center (DCC) to see if maybe they had a Tim Duncan and Chris Paul jersey. My friend Tara is obsessed with Chris Paul, but I let it slide because he went to Wake Forest. While riding the Dart to the DCC, my other friend Nathan shouted, “Duncan!” and pointed out the window. And there it was, hanging from a street pole, a picture of Duncan posting up. It was only the second picture we had seen of him all day, but it was worth it. We arrived at the DCC, but unfortunately since we didn’t have tickets we couldn’t get in. Maybe it was the DCC that had our elusive Tim Duncan jersey. I guess we’ll never know.
Our Saturday was over and we headed back to my cousin Adair’s apartment to watch what was sure to be an eventful All-Star Saturday night. But as we all know, All-Star Saturday night was on the dull side, and the highly anticipated dunk contest lacked not only high profile players, but creativity and excitement.
We woke up the next morning, put on our Spurs gear, and made our way to Cowboys Stadium. Arlington is not far from Dallas at all, but when you’ve been waiting for something for months and the excitement and anticipation is at an all time high, a 20 minute car ride can seem like two hours. We took the wrong exit but thankfully Cowboys Stadium is bigger than the spaceships from the Will Smith movie Independence Day, so we just drove towards it. The quest for parking had begun, and I had been told to except high prices for parking, but nothing could have prepared me for what was in-store. Parking at Cowboy Stadium was one hundred dollars. Yes, hundred dollars! Did we pay one hundred dollars? Of course not! I already gave Jerry Jones 60 bucks for this ticket. There’s no way I was going to give a billionaire any more of my money.
We found parking about a mile away for thirty dollars that offered a shuttle and it dropped us off at the stadium. And as soon as we stepped off the shuttle there it was, two stories tall, like it had been dropped down from the sky above, a giant Tim Duncan banner. It was magnificent. And to make it even better, there was one the exact same size of Tony Parker next to it. Yes, Tony Parker. It was amazing.
The doors to the stadium were scheduled to open at 5:30 pm. I wish we had known that because we arrived at 3:30 and had to wait outside in the freezing cold for two hours. Standing in line I tried to remember if we were in Texas or Alaska.
After two hours of waiting and stitching my ears back to my head after they had frozen off, the doors opened and the hunt for the Tim Duncan jersey went into full effect. Walking to the fan shop was an amazing experience. People were everywhere in all sorts of jerseys. And Spurs fans were definitely representing. Spurs fans were predominantly wearing Duncan and Ginobili jerseys, but every once in a while there would be an older gentleman in a David Robinson jersey.
We were able to fight our way through the world record crowd of 108,713 people and get to the fan shop. All I wanted was something with Duncan on it. I went through the jerseys and All-Star gear and found nothing. Not a single thing. This was getting ridiculous. Tara bought a shirt and when she was paying for it she asked the cashier, “Why aren’t there more players in your jersey section?” The cashier replied, “Well we have Dirk. What are you looking for?” I immediately interrupted, “Tim Duncan.” He just looked at me, held his hand out, and put his thumb down. I looked at him, held my hand up, and showed him four fingers. The hunt for the Duncan jersey had failed. There would be no Duncan memorabilia. I would have to fulfill my quest for Duncan with the one place I knew I could find him — as starting forward for the West All-Stars.
With Spurs fans from every corner of the world converging in Dallas, I thought this would be a great time to learn about some fellow Spurs fans and see what they’ve thought about the season so far. I asked San Antonio native and die hard Spurs fan Chris Kafflin his thoughts on the Richard Jefferson deal:
“I think the jury’s still out. Don’t think it’s just him. I mean, we overhauled our whole bench. We’ve gone through so many starting lineups; it’ll be interesting who they decide to go with. I think they should keep the line up as is.” When asked what other player he came to see besides Tim Duncan, he replied, “There’s no other Spur, so it’s all for Timmy.”
Spoken like a true Spurs fan.
I asked Gerald Strickland of Boston for his thoughts on the RJ trade and he said, “There was a lot of pressure put on Richard to be great right from the get go. He’s not our problem. We haven’t been playing Spurs defense.”
Mike Johnson of Winston-Salem, North Carolina has been a Tim Duncan fan forever. “I’m here to see the great Tim Duncan. That’s my man. I grew up right down the street from Wake Forest. That’s my guy.”
It seemed all Spurs fans had one thing in common this weekend. I asked everyone which player they came to see besides Tim Duncan, and instead of hearing LeBron or Dwayne Wade, they all replied with something that shocked me, yet amazed me. When I asked this question to George and Sam Gonzalez of San Antonio, they replied, “DeJuan Blair.”
Finally it was game time. Now I can see Tim Duncan and a plethora of future hall of famers take the same court. But as much as I wanted to see Tim Duncan play, I didn’t. Part of me wanted to see him rest. Just knowing he’s an All-Star is good enough for me. Knowing that he’s there representing my home is fine by me. Spurs fans can’t expect him to play 33 minutes like in 2000 when he and Shaq both won the All Star MVP. In that game Duncan had 24 points and 14 rebounds on 12-14 shooting from the floor.
I knew this game would be completely different. It’s a new era in the NBA. The “Platinum” age as some call it lead by stars like LeBron James and Dwight Howard. Duncan only played 13 minutes and finished with 3 points and four rebounds, and yet, it was still the best game I’ve ever been to. LeBron played 32 minutes and finished with 25 points and the MVP, Dwayne Wade, finished with 28 points in 31 minutes.
Even though Tim Duncan only played 13 minutes, this was still one of the most amazing things I’ve ever been a part of. Soon, we’ll no longer see Duncan out there, in a red west jersey, pigeon-toed at the free throw line. The Duncan Era is winding down and to be able to see him play as an All Star starter is something I’ll never forget. I finally found my Duncan shirt. While we were walking back to our car, a man was selling All Star shirts out of the back of his truck, and in the corner of the shirt was a picture, not a drawing, of Timmy, clutching a basketball. So I bought the shirt for fifteen dollars. Take that Jerry Jones. I want to end this story with something my friend Nathan said. We made it into a sign, and I think it perfectly sums up Tim Duncan. Tim Duncan will be an All-Star until all stars fade.