Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Skeets note: Earlier this morning, "Portraits in the Paint" illustrator Joel Kimmel swung by the NBA's Tip-Off Celebration in New York City. Unfortunately, things got a little wet. Here's his report:

I got to Union Square at about 8:45 and it wasn’t really raining. The court was set up and looked pretty awesome. A red carpet led to center court from a tent set up beneath the George Washington statue where there was a throng of press folks gathered and some other people giving out free headbands and t-shirts.

On the court there were some people shooting free-throws for t-shirts and the DJ booth was set up with a large video screen above it playing Top 10 highlights and Knicks media coverage. The DJs were quizzing people on their favorite teams, with the correct answer winning you an NBA Tip-Off Celebration t-shirt. I said my favorite team was the Raptors, and they laughed at me. Then they asked me an easy question — which two former Raptor All-Stars are cousins? I won a t-shirt.

Then it started to pour, and the already sparse crowd either left, or headed under the tents if there was any room. The court emptied, but I was armed with an umbrella and some serious determination to at least see Scottie Pippen when he arrived, which was scheduled for about 9am.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar exited a car on 14th street and headed towards the tent and into a back area where there were some delicious looking pastries. He is seriously tall.

Then Scottie arrived, bald domed and in good spirits. He also headed to the back for a few minutes before they both came out to meet the media. I can’t be sure how many actual fans were in attendance. It seemed like most of the crowd were press people or were working the event. I gathered snippets of information about Scottie signing autographs eventually, but it was getting cold and the rain was coming down hard. I decided to stick it out.

I saw David Stern sneak out after a quick interview and at about 10:30 a line formed around me for a chance to get Kareem and Scottie’s autographs. They were signing photos that they had on hand, which was nice, because anything I had on me was soaked.

So I realized a lifelong dream of meeting Scottie Pippen, who smiled brightly for my camera and shook my hand. After a quick hello with Kareem, the security guys quickly ushered me out from under the safety of the tent into the pouring rain, almost before I had a chance to protect my precious autographed pictures.

Also, John Starks arrived at one point, and no one seemed to notice. I think he headed straight for the chocolate chip muffins.

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