I HAVE to admit I was a little surprised--and very excited!--when I found out two weeks ago that I was selected for the rookie/sophomore game. I've played pretty well this season, but they only pick nine guys for the rookie squad. After a big win at Phoenix on Thursday night, I flew to Denver and didn't get in until 3 a.m. on Friday. I got some sleep and went to a meeting with the coaches to talk about the game. I guess the NBA didn't want it to be played like it was last year, where late in the game it turned into a dunk contest (although I really enjoyed watching it on TV).
The game, on Friday night, was a blast. I started, and it was great to be on the same floor with guys like LeBron James and [Heat guard] Dwyane Wade. Both teams played hard, and even though we lost [133-106], I had a lot of fun. It motivated me not just to come back and play in this game next season but hopefully to someday earn a spot in the main event.
The party scene is pretty crazy during All-Star weekend. On Friday after the game I went to a party thrown by Shaq (above) and Amaré Stoudemire at a club called Serengeti. I saw a lot of familiar faces there like the Suns' Shawn Marion and Quentin Richardson, who I played with in Chicago over the summer. It was a good party, but it was packed--everyone was shoulder to shoulder. I couldn't help but notice Shaq's outfit. He's 7'1", and he was wearing this dark suit with a top hat. I think I could wear the suit, but I could never pull off wearing a hat like that.
I checked out the dunk contest on Saturday night. Hawks forward Josh Smith deserved to win, but that dunk that Amaré did where the ball bounced off the backboard and then off Steve Nash's head? That was unbelievable--the best dunk of the night in my mind.
Later that night I stopped by a party thrown by the players' association. It was cool, because all the NBA guys were there (like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce) and a lot of celebrities like Brandy and Nelly (who also performed later that night), which made for a pretty fun night.
The weekend was a great experience, but now it's time to get back to work. We had a strong road trip [4-0] before the break, and I hope we can keep it going. I know I said earlier that my goal is to be a starter, but I'm pretty happy with the way things are going now. We have three guys, including me, rotating in at point guard, and sometimes I also play the two guard. I don't mind playing off-guard, because even when I'm on the floor with [guard] Jason Terry, I'm still running a lot of point guard plays like the pick-and-roll. The only real difference is that I'm guarding the bigger guard on the other end. The bottom line is that all three of us are producing, and the main goal for all of us is to get better for the playoffs.
Personally, I'm pretty happy. I've had some ups and downs, but I think as the season has gone on, I've become more consistent. The team has shown a lot of poise over the last couple of weeks, and I've been on the floor a lot more in the fourth quarter. I feel more comfortable with the coaching staff, and I think they're more comfortable with me.
EZRA SHAW/GETTY IMAGES (O'NEAL)
BILL FRAKES (HARRIS STANDING)
DANNY TURNER (HARRIS WRITING)
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED IMAGING (NOTEBOOK)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (HARRIS)