NBA All-Star Weekend celebrates Pacers success
Indiana Pacers forward Paul George walked fashionably up to the podium wearing a red shirt with white polka dots and red sneakers, his Valentine's Day outfit for an interview session with reporters at NBA All-Star weekend in New Orleans, Louisiana.
"I'm still wide-eyed," said George of his second All-Star appearance, first as a starter selected by the fans. "Still a lot of stuff that's new and unfamiliar to me. Just learning from the first experience, everything is just having fun. It's a real loose, fun environment here. I'm just happy to share it with Coach Vogel and Roy."
Roy Hibbert is an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve, selected by the coaches. This is also Roy's second selection.
"It's great," said Hibbert. "I'm happy to be here. I was nervous thinking that I wasn't going to get in. But with the team's success, it helped me get in with my body of work. I'm really happy for the coaches and for Paul to be able to go out there and start."
Frank Vogel and his coaching staff lead the East All-Stars as recognition for the Pacers Eastern Conference best 40-12 record.
"It's such an honor just to be in the presence of these great basketball players," said Vogel. "It's just an historically neat event for the NBA, for the fans. To be here to represent the great people of Indiana, that people that care about basketball more than anywhere in the world, it's very special to me."
Hibbert and George lent a hand at an NBA Cares home restoration project Friday in the Algiers neighborhood across the Mississippi River from downtown New Orleans. Hibbert used a cordless drill to put up a wood fence.
"It's nice to be here and give back," said Hibbert. "I've never been much of a handyman. But after this, I feel like I can fix anything in the house."
George painted figures of people on a wall mural.
"I always thought I excelled at art," said George. "I have a beautiful mind when it comes to being artistic. This is right up my alley. It's great to be a part of this, to be in the community, to be involved."
Paul shows his artistry in the dunk contest Saturday night at Smoothie King Center.
"It's for the fans to have fun with it," said George. "But I do know what I'm going to do and worked on the dunks that I'm going to do. I'm taking it old school, no props, just straight flashy dunks and showing my style."
The new format is a team competition, with George serving as captain of the Eastern Conference three-man dunk squad. George is joined by reigning dunk champion Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors and John Wall of the Washington Wizards. The west team consists of Harrison Barnes of the Golden State Warriors, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers and Ben McLemore of the Sacramento Kings.
"I just have a little input on what we're going to do," said George. "But all those guys are special. They are going to show it Saturday night."
The dunk contest will start with a freestyle round, 90 seconds for each team to showcase as many dunks as they like. Judges will decide which conference wins, giving that team the choice of going first or second in the battle round. Then dunkers square off head-to-head, east vs. west. Every battle loser is eliminated and the first team to win three battles is crowned 2014 Sprite Slam Dunk champions. Fans will vote online for a "Dunker of the Night".
Sunday's All-Star game tips off at 8:15 p.m. (TNT)