NBA Dunkers Do Dallas In One Wild, Wintry Wonderful All-Star Weekend

In the end, 'twas a blurring weekend dominated by snow and stars and a facelift swap. Dirk Nowitzki hosted and Mary J. Blige crooned and, amidst the wild weather and even wilder parties, the Dallas Mavericks pulled off a seven-player trade that reshaped their roster and rebooted their championship hopes.

But did NBA All-Star Weekend—as promised by Mavs owner Mark Cuban—set the buzz bar high enough to make next winter's Super Bowl XLV in North Texas indeed feel like a bar mitzvah?

Thursday, February 11

8 a.m.—We're expecting lots of celebrities, 90,000 visitors to the Dallas Convention Center's NBA Jam Session and an economic impact of approximately $150 million. What we're not prepared for is an unprecedented foot of snow. With more than 60 parties scheduled over four nights and all major hotels figured to be stuffed with high-profile folks and their expendable incomes, the last thing Dallas desired was a surreal whiteout blizzard. "I don't know if there's ever been a weekend like this in the history of our league," Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson says. "A little of the fluffy white stuff won't stop us."

10 a.m.—First official event of the weekend, the NBA Sanofi-Pasteur "Vaccines for Teens" program at Fort Worth's William James Middle School. And we're off...

2 p.m.—Tech summit at the Ritz-Carlton. OK, we're off and crawling.

3:45 p.m.—The Hyatt Regency, Anatole and Hotel ZaZa confirm they are sold out for the weekend. With whom, you might ask? Cleveland Cavaliers center Shaquille O'Neal has a room at ZaZa, the folks from TNT are at The Mansion on Turtle Creek and the W is hosting the likes of Alicia Keys, Usher, Shakira and Common. Michael Jordan? He's in the Penthouse suite at Joule, same place that entertained Martin Scorsese, the Jonas Brothers and Sarah the Duchess of York.

8 p.m.—At the NBA All-Star Opening Night concert at The Majestic Theater, the rarest of sights. Nowitzki's in a collared shirt and Cuban has ditched his T-shirt for—gasp—a suit and tie. "Last time he had it on, he was going to court," the owner's wife, Tiffany, says. "So at first I was a little nervous." Jokes NBA commissioner David Stern before the tip-off concert by Blige, "What time does Mark have to get that thing back by?"

12:15 a.m.—At House of Blues, partygoers are awaiting the arrival of O'Neal, who won't show up despite being billed as the night's official "host." Why? Couple hours ago he was in Cleveland, playing in a game against the Orlando Magic. He won't fly into Love Field for another two hours. Welcome to NBA All-Star Weekend, where patience and flexibility are required.

2 a.m.—DART announced it would continue service until 3 a.m. That's great for getting to parties, but how are we supposed to get home?

Friday, February 12

10 a.m.—Weather impact: Friend has business associates who can't make their flight from New York, so they bail on their hotel reservation. Instead of canceling, it goes to him/us. Where? The $1,900-a-night Crenshaw Villa at Four Seasons Resort and Hotel in Las Colinas. Delicious.

11:30 a.m.—During the NBA All-Star Day of Service, Nowitzki paints a home in South Dallas, Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant helps with repairs at Burnet Elementary in northwest Dallas and the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James dedicates a new playground at the Oak Cliff Boys and Girls Club. "This," James says, "is really what this weekend is all about."

12:45 p.m.—In the same building housing his 7-foot bobblehead and just down the street from his 20-story banner draped on the Bank of America tower, Nowitzki finds out he'll start Sunday's All-Star Game in place of the injured Bryant. "Never thought I'd see any of this," he says. "When I came here from Germany 12 years ago, I was scared of everything." The greatest player in the history of the Mavs will make his ninth All-Star appearance. Second-most is Rolando Blackman with four.

6:30 p.m.—A giant armored Vault limo pulls up to the Celebrity Game at the Convention Center. As it starts to bull its way through some barricades, three of Dallas' finest snap into action. "Stop!" one officer yells as he yanks open the door to find O'Neal hulking behind the wheel. "You gotta be shittin' me!" the cop says, laughing and waving Shaq through.

7 p.m.—During the Celebrity Game, Cuban goes 0 of 6 and playfully taunts former Dallas Cowboy Terrell Owens. Dallas icon Nancy Lieberman makes good on her promise to score two baskets for her cancer-stricken friend Emily.

8:15 p.m.—Hey, there's Wolf Blitzer! And Holly Madison! And that's...Mario Lopez? Two out of three ain't bad.

11:30 p.m.—A star-studded crowd at Nick & Sam's steakhouse—highlighted by Spud Webb and TNT analyst Doug Collins—is amazed when Jamie Foxx gives an impromptu show at the piano.

1:15 a.m.—In a Love Field hangar at a party co-hosted by Nowitzki, the big man is big-timed. He approached Blige, who barely lifts a finger while sitting behind shades on a white couch. So, Nowitzki, how'd it go? "Not well," he says sheepishly. "That went nowhere."

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