When the NBA All-Star game last visited Chicago, Marc Davis was a junior at the U.S. Naval Academy, watching the proceedings at the old Chicago Stadium from afar.
On Sunday, the veteran NBA official will own a slightly different perspective for the first All-Star game at the United Center. He's working it.
"In some form or fashion, I've had that almost out-of-body moment every night over my 23 seasons in the league: ‘I'm really here and this is what I'm doing?'" Davis said in a phone interview. "So I'm certain I will have many moments on Sunday when I step back and say, ‘Wow.'
"It was incredible to see the last (All-Star game) in your hometown. And now to be a part of it and have kids about the age I was back then and see it through their eyes? It's pretty special."
Indeed, this is quite the weekend for Davis, 52, who grew up near Chicago Vocational High School on the city's southeast side and attended St. Ignatius High. Friday night, his alma mater's basketball program hosts Senior Night for the oldest of his three children's final home game at the school.
And on Sunday, Davis will work his second All-Star game, along with Courtney Kirkland and Eric Lewis.
"I'm an avid Chicagoan and I love the fact that the nation's and world's eyes are going to be on our phenomenal city this weekend, as well as all the great charities and work that goes behind the scenes with Chicago Scholars and After School Matters and all the other not-for-profits that are engaged in our community," Davis said. "That veil gets lifted off and people can see all the wonderful things and hard work that people are doing in our wonderful city."
Davis ranks third among active officials for NBA Finals games worked, which is the pinnacle of his profession. He's also currently the president of the National Basketball Referees Association, his profession's union.
But even though the All-Star game has evolved---devolved?---into mostly an exhibition and spectacle, Davis still calls it a "bucket-item list" event for all officials. He worked the 2014 game in New Orleans.
His memories from that weekend are mostly family-related. Carmelo Anthony kept picking up and carrying one of his kids at community service events they worked together. At one of those, while Davis helped build a playground at a local school, he discovered another one of his kids had snuck into the gym to shoot hoops with Kyrie Irving.
"Once we throw the ball up, this game can be very contentious. You have some type-A personalities and everybody is hypercompetitive," Davis said. "But there is a family bond there that has been created by our leadership. And it trickles all the way down. The All-Star weekend is a culmination of that."
And Davis thinks Sunday's game, which features a new format and a charitable tie-in component, has the potential to be different. This is, after all, an event that as recently as 2012 in Orlando featured Dwyane Wade accidentally breaking the late Kobe Bryant's nose on a hard foul as the game turned serious.
"You just try to stay out of the way," Davis said of his officiating approach. "But I will tell you this: I think this year will be a little different. One of the things about (NBA commissioner) Adam (Silver's) leadership is he is always open. And he's a problem solver.
"I think with the new format this year and players being able to pick their own teams, combined with the charities and the emotional and heartbreaking news of Kobe this year, I think this is going to be a phenomenal exercise of how graceful and competitive our players are and what kind of men they are.
"They'll get up and down. They'll get loose. There will be some showcase dunks and there may not be full intensity all the time. But there will be those moments where it will necessitate all of our concentration to make sure we keep our players in an advantageous situation."
But mostly, Davis will just relish the ride.
"I'm excited for our city," he said. "I am completely biased about our city. I think it's the greatest city in the country, probably the world. It's a great opportunity for our city to showcase and highlight itself."
Chicago native Marc Davis is excited to officiate NBA All-Star game originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago