Mikey's Classic Brushes With Greatness (NBA Legends Brunch; Feb. 2015)

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Mikey's Classic Brushes With Greatness (NBA Legends Brunch; Feb. 2015)

Post by mikeyicon » November 3rd, 2016, 6:24 pm

One event I have always wanted to attend was NBA All-Star Saturday night. Considering I have a very valuable family member who works for the NBA, it was time to utilize this resource once again since the event was held in NYC. He was able to score my wife and I tickets to the Saturday event, but after asking nicely, he was also able to get me into the NBA Legends Brunch on Sunday morning as well.

I’ll start with the quick Saturday night event at the Barclays Center of which I was surprised to score a photo opp. While we were in the lobby getting our tickets, I noticed Rick Fox doing a segment. Afterwards, he began taking photos with people. I never cared for Rick Fox as a player, but the man did some good acting in Oz and Eddie. This was a quick photo, totally unexpected but cool. We enjoyed a great three-point shootout won by Stephen Curry and an amazing dunk contest won by Zach Lavine. Then home to get some rest and back to the city early morning at the Javits Center for the Legends deal.
Rick Fox
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Until perhaps after college, I was a huge NBA fan and pursued a degree in communications with a plan to do broadcasting for the NBA. Well, my degree really didn’t help and I lost interest a bit in the NBA, but it’s all good. My father-in-law had gone to a previous brunch years ago where he sat with Bill Walton, so I assumed at least I might get to BS with one or two NBA legends. I was advised by the guy who got me into the event that I had to wear shirt and tie, and since he worked for the NBA, I had to keep it cool and not approach all the people who might be there to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

We walked into the event, and it was like a circus. Tons of tall and old legends that I adored were walking around all over the place being fawned over like zoo animals And I noticed that there were casual fans and tons of kids who were asking for autographs and photos. So my family member told me then it was fair game. I was with two older guys (my father-in-law and another family member) so unfortunately I had to rely on them to take the photos for me. Most came out good, a few could have been better, but kind of hard to do for some of the bigger names that were being swamped by fans. I had no interest in autographs although I imagine some of these I could have gotten could have earned me some big $$$

The first guy we met upon going to our table was The Iceman, George Gervin. Super nice guy, posed for the photo and my father-in-law of course blew the photo for me. Not once, not twice, but three times. I wasn’t going back to ask again. Oh well, as you can see from the photos below, wasn’t too big a deal.

I could write so much about the experience, but instead I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. The event was amazing, got some photos only with a few, but also had some great conversations with legends as well. I even got Dikembe to wag the finger, which of course led to many more people asking him. It also happens to be one of my favorite celeb photos of all time. I’ll do a quick recap like I did with the Chiller shows to give you a better idea of who was there, who was cool, who wasn’t, and the few that I could have got but didn’t have the patience to wait (aka Magic Johnson and Dr. J Julius Erving).
Kevin Johnson
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Oscar Robertson
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Dave Winfield
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Dave Winfield. Yep, although he was drafted to play in the NBA, he never did. But he was to show support, I guess?
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Earl Monroe
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Walt Frazier
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Bill Bradley
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Willis Reed
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Dominique Wilkins
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Gary Payton
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Dikembe Mutombo
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Hakeem Olajuwon
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Hakeem Olajuwon (This one took some work, but he’s probably one of my favorite players of all time! It was the only rush job, so his eyes are a little funky, but it’s fine!)
Thurl Bailey
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Mark Eaton
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Remember this shot-blocking menace on the Jazz?
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Theo Ratliff
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Besides the actual event hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and Ernie Johnson, it was just a complete adrenaline rush talking with and hunting down all these legends for photos. Definitely one of the Top 10 Celeb-Related Events I ever was able to go to. I look back at these photos and experiences and appreciate how blessed I am for the opportunities and resources I have. And of course, when you experience these events and it costs NO $$$, but the value is very astronomical, I’m very fortunate. Ironically, when I came home, I was advised I could go back and check out the actual All-Star game, but I was exhausted and satisfied with the experience from the morning.

NBA Legends Brunch (Whoa!!!)
Photos Gotten: KJ, The Big O, Dave Winfield, The Pearl, Clyde, Bill Bradley, The Human Highlight Reel, The Glove, Mount Mutombo, The Dream, Thurl The Pearl, Mark Eaton, Theo Ratliff
Coulda/Woulda/Shoulda: Magic Johnson, Chris Mullin, Kiki Vandeweghe, Julius Erving, Nate Archibald, George Gervin, Adam Silver (Commissioner), Jesse Jackson (yes, that Jesse Jackson!), Spencer Haywood, Andre Iguodala, Jerome Williams, Danny Schayes, Spencer Haywood, Larue Martin
MVP: Willis Reed, Bill Bradley, & Earl Monroe
MVP (2): Gary Payton
MVP (3): Dikembe Mutombo
Biggest Douche: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (he refused to acknowledge anybody!), Kevin Johnson (he agreed to pose for the photo, but I could tell he didn’t want to be bothered, and was annoyed when my father-in-law started talking about education and his role as mayor of Sacramento)
Biggest Mob Scene: Magic Johnson
Top Billed Names: Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dr. J Julius Erving, Magic Johnson
Best Of The Rest: I’m sure there were many others who I didn’t recognize. There was no official program of who was in attendance!!!
Rating: A+

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Re: Mikey's Classic Brushes With Greatness (NBA Legends Brunch; Feb. 2015)

Post by Jason1980s » November 3rd, 2016, 7:18 pm

Awesome report, lots of big names!
Really good to see that this was recent in years. Back in my collecting days, we had a lot of local sports banquets where it was relatively easy to get autographs/photo ops. It all changed in the mid 2000s. Not only did prices go up but it was a lot tougher to get any one with somewhat name recognition.
How was Bill Russell? I know the no autograph policy but was he even OK with photos?
I really like the Dave Winfield, especially. He was always one who shared his disdain for autographs but think he's cool with photos.
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Re: Mikey's Classic Brushes With Greatness (NBA Legends Brunch; Feb. 2015)

Post by mikeyicon » November 4th, 2016, 3:34 pm

Hmm, I thought I had responded to you Jason, but it never showed up??? Thanks for the kind words. Yeah, it was fun back in the day with disposable cameras and not as crazy as it is now. Once everybody got a cellphone or digital camera, and easier access to celebs now thanks to twitter and other things, this got saturated just like most things in today's world.

Yeah, Dave Winfield just walked up right in front of me, and I had to do a double take but knew it was him. Nobody else seemed to even recognize him, but he was really nice allowing for a great photo.

Bill Russell I know is anti autographs and photos. He had a tight security team, and nobody was getting anywhere near him. Plus, he's gotten very old and frail, and had no real interest in even trying, since as i always say, as long as you ask politely, the worst they can say is no.

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Re: Mikey's Classic Brushes With Greatness (NBA Legends Brunch; Feb. 2015)

Post by Greg2600 » November 4th, 2016, 4:23 pm

Wow, great event. How come you didn't post this last year? Would have been sports meet of the year!
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Re: Mikey's Classic Brushes With Greatness (NBA Legends Brunch; Feb. 2015)

Post by mikeyicon » November 4th, 2016, 4:37 pm

HAHAHA, I got the writing bug again and figure what more can I do with these photos besides share the stories behind them. Definitely not looking to win any awards, just provide stories to some of the people on the board who might enjoy. I remember emailing Woodmo years ago indicating I would write, but just never did and enjoyed reading more than writing. I have more energy and time now which is why I am going back and writing about these.

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