Ruth Riley's Allstar Blog

For most people, the NBA All-Star weekend is a time where their favorite athletes showcase their talents in the various skills competitions or the game itself. All-Star weekend to me is a little of everything, business and pleasure, catching up with old friends and making new ones, watching the various games and participating in events myself. Here is a brief synopsis of this year’s All-Star weekend, according to me!

Thursday: My weekend started out in typical “Ruth” fashion, as I somehow managed to lock my keys in my car before heading off on my drive from Miami to Orlando. Upon arriving, the day was filled with various interviews and photo shoots as well as a reception that night. It was exciting for Swin and I to have a visible reminder of the fact that we will once again be playing together as we posed for some photos in our new Chicago Sky uniforms!! It proved to be a great day of catching up with some of the players and staff from around the league.

Friday: One event I always look forward to at All-Star weekend is the Technology Summit. There are always interesting and entertaining panels that discuss the latest advances in technology and how they pertain to our sports world. I am a huge fan of the NBA’s TNT crew, so I was especially excited to see that Ernie Johnson was leading the panel with Barkley, the entertainer Common, and various executives from Coke, ESPN, IMG and Tencent. It was a fascinating discussion on social media, where it is now, the role of it in the future and whether Barkley will ever jump on board and start a twitter account!!

From there it was off to NBA Cares Day of Service, where Swin and I were joined by NBA Legends, Clyde Drexler and Dominique Wilkins as we were given the task to prep and paint one of the children’s rooms at the homeless shelter. It was very entertaining listening to those two guys share stories from “back in the day” as we were working!! From there it was off to Jam Session where I met up with my friends from the UN Foundation and the Nothingbutnets and Girl Up campaigns. We had a great time doing a clinic with the kids as well as giving them a brief idea of some of these global social issues. I topped off the day by signing autographs with Indiana Fever’s Briann January and the Orlando Magic’s Ryan Anderson.

Saturday:Saturday morning came a bit too early, as we met in the lobby at 8:00 to head to the Newsmaker Breakfast, where one of the world’s leading theoretical physicists, Brian Greene, was our keynote speaker. I will have to give him credit for being a very engaging communicator, but at the end of the day it does not matter how energetic you are, when you are using words like “inflating cosmology” and “multiverses” you are definitely going to lose me! The rest of the day was filled with receptions, and a few suite visits during the various All-Star events. Of course we were there to cheer on our fellow WNBA girls taking part in the Shooting Stars Competition . . . congrats to Cappie and her team for winning it all this year!

Sunday: The highlight of my weekend was definitely the opportunity to meet and play with the Special Olympic athletes who were taking part in the Unity Sports Game. Saturday night I had the chance to meet and interact with all the athletes at a reception, so we felt like old friends as we took center stage at Jam Session on Sunday afternoon. The teams consisted of both men and women from all around the United States. I was on the East team along with Lindsey Harding, Dikembe Mutombo, Sam Perkins and our fellow Special Olympians. The West was the rest of the Special Olympic athletes accompanied by Sophia Young, Marie Ferdinand-Harris, Chris Mullins and Clyde Drexler. I was so impressed by the talent level of these athletes! The highlight of the game was Dikembe blocking one of the athlete’s shots and giving his signature finger waving as he told him to “get that outta here” only to have the same athlete come down the lane the sequential possession and score over him with an amazing floater!! The game finished in dramatic fashion as the West had the ball with 8 seconds to go in a tied game. They called a timeout to draw up a play and I am going to chalk it up to Chris Mullins who is so used to being on the floor in crunch time, as to why he was on the floor at the end of the game which gave the West 6 players vs. our 5! After the officials got that sorted out and kicked Chris back to the bench (for the first time in his career J), the East came up with a huge defensive play and the game fittingly ended in a tie! Following the game we headed over to the NBA Fit court to do a clinic for some of the local Special Olympic Athletes with the help of our new teammates! The event was a wonderful reminder that it does not matter what your race, age, gender or skill levels are, sports are a perfect avenue to encourage unity and bring people together!!

The night ended with the actual All-Star game itself, where most of the players are pretty loose and having fun until the 4th quarter rolls around and the game gets a little more serious. As I was leaving the game, I ran into Common, who I had not seen since we participated in the Celebrity Game together at a previous All-Star. Unfortunately for him, his boys remembered that I blocked his shot at the buzzer to secure a win for my team, so they had a lot fun reminding him of that!! Overall I had a wonderful weekend watching some of the best athletes in the world perform, participating in various community service events as well and making new friends along the way!

To view more images from Allstar Weekend 2012, click here