Seeing Stars

Fresh back from off-season play in Italy, Liberty rookie Sherill Baker recently had the experience of any basketball fan’s lifetime. A future All-Star hopeful herself, Baker was one of a select few WNBA players to be invited to join the NBA All-Star weekend festivities. The NBA and WNBA had events planned beginning on Thursday of President’s Day weekend, leading up to the big game on Sunday, and Sherill was in the mix of it all. From Read to Achieve to autograph sessions, the Lib rook tells what her first All-Star experience was like. Apparently she even had time to learn a little blackjack…

I arrived at NBA All-Star weekend on Wednesday, February 14, and as soon as I arrived I met up with some WNBA personnel, including former Olympic player Carla McGhee, as well as Lisa Leslie, in the WNBA suite.

The atmosphere was great, as were the people. I got my schedule for the week, but the highlight of my arrival was my conversation with Lisa in the suite. She is a great person to be around off the court - very down to earth. She was really funny and genuinely nice. It was great getting to know her better away from the court. I also met her husband as well, and they seem very excited about the pregnancy.

The next day there were several things for me to do, along with the other WNBA players that were there. We had meetings, events such as Read to Achieve, Be Fit, a skills challenge, Gatorade Games, autograph sessions…you get the point. There was always something to do. The people I met and saw at All-Star weekend was almost surreal.

The person that I enjoyed meeting most was former Knicks player Allan Houston. He was standing right in front of me in the green room while we were waiting for our scheduled appearance. He was very charming and had a great sense of humor and personality. Our conversation was mainly about playing in New York and how fun and exciting it is to be able to do that for a living.

It was just so much fun to be in the same vicinity with so many stars - from both the NBA and WNBA, as well as a lot of other celebrities. On Friday, Nick DiPillo, our assistant coach in New York, arrived and we met up. We had dinner and then headed to the casino. When in Vegas…right? It was actually my first time playing blackjack, so I was sitting next to Nick and he would tell me when to hit, double down and stay. After a while I got the hang of it, and at one point was up pretty big. If you don’t know me, I tend to smile A LOT. Well my smile was big as ever when I walked away from the blackjack table!

On Saturday my older brother Johnny arrived, and I’m so glad he came because he had a blast! I wanted him to come because I knew he would have a great time just like I did. Although he didn’t have so much fun losing money at the blackjack table!

Sunday, before the actual All-Star Game, the WNBA players who were there were invited to the NBA Legends Brunch. This was a dream come true for me, to actually see legends such as George Gervin, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson and Julius Erving. It was incredible. It’s really difficult to explain the emotions and excitement that I felt. I can just say that I am really blessed to have the opportunity to experience such great things.

Overall my trip was amazing! Hanging out with the other WNBA players, enjoying my brother’s company, and giving back to the kids and the fans…I would love to do it all over again!