I went to Charlotte for the NBA All-Star game, and it was truly a Disneyland for anyone who's obsessed with basketball

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  • Business Insider attended the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • The event has turned into the NBA’s Super Bowl week, with massive amounts of fans, media, brands, players, and celebrities flooding the city to take part in the festivities.
  • We documented what All-Star Weekend is like, from chaotic media sessions to brand-sponsored events to the games themselves.
  • Ultimately, we were impressed by the sheer size and popularity of the event, even if it is, at times, a bit chaotic.
  • Follow all of Business Insider’s 2019 NBA All-Star coverage here >

The NBA’s All-Star Weekend has become basketball’s Super Bowl Week.

As the league grows in popularity, the weekend has turned into an event unto itself, with fans, media, players, teams, brands, and celebrities flocking for a weekend of festivities.

Business Insider was credentialed to head to the 2019 All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. It’s next-to-impossible to take in everything the weekend has to offer (while still getting work done), but we tried to document the four-day experience (with an overwhelmed iPhone camera), from the massive media availabilities to the impact on the city, the various events, and the games themselves.

We were left impressed by the size of the weekend, its impact on Charlotte, and the overall popularity.

Here’s what it’s like to attend the NBA’s All-Star Weekend:


Upon landing in Charlotte, the NBA All-Star Game made its presence known. There were giant sponsorship ads, while an audio message from Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker played, welcoming fans to the city.

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The game itself was advertised in open spaces at the airport.

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Every street light in Charlotte’s city center had these banners.

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The NBA took over other spaces in Charlotte. The Epicentre, an outdoor shopping center in the heart of the city, hosted several NBA-themed events with brands.

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Companies like Budweiser, Mountain Dew, Rakuten, and more hosted events and activations.

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Rakuten, for instance, drew visitors with a pop-a-shot event.

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A look inside Mountain Dew’s event…

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Their space included a giant blow-up of Joel Embiid.

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For media, some of the events included interviews with brand ambassadors. Yours truly is seen here speaking to the Knicks’ Dennis Smith Jr.

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Read more:
Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. talks being in the Kristaps Porzingis blockbuster, what fans don’t realise about trades, eating octopus, and jumping over J. Cole


Another prominent location was Nike and Jordan Brand’s giant exhibit at the Mint Museum Uptown, titled “Own the Game HQ.”

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There were three levels of displays, including a half-court where they held speaker series, workshops, and training.

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The exhibit also had replicas of Nike’s All-Star jerseys, which was a hit with visitors.

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And a giant display of famous Nike and Jordan sneakers.

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I landed in Charlotte on Thursday, one day before the All-Star Weekend officially kicked off. The marquee event on Thursday was the filming of TNT’s “Inside the NBA” on the road.

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A crowd lined up outside to witness the live taping.

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The event on Thursday would feature a performance from comedian Chris Tucker. The stage was set.

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There was media availability with the “Inside the NBA” cast of Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kenny Smith. I was too busy asking questions to snap a photo, but here’s Shaq and a fan, via Turner Sports.

via Turner Sports

The first NBA-related media availability took place Friday morning for the Rising Stars Challenge, an exhibition featuring the top rookies and second-year players in the league. The session was held at Bojangles Coliseum, which was slightly outside of Charlotte’s city center.

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There were more All-Star themed decorations…

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As anyone who has attended these media sessions can attest, it becomes a wrestling match to get close enough to the podiums to ask players questions. It’s important to get to your spot early.

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Because if you’re not there early, you’re simply not getting very close to the biggest stars. Luka Doncic had a good-sized crowd.

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Ben Simmons drew an even bigger one.

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Occasionally, you would get lucky enough to get close. Some space opened up near the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young.

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There were two media sessions over the weekend. Saturday’s was for the Saturday night competitions, including the three-point contest and dunk contest, and for the actual All-Stars themselves. That session was a little different, as fans attended, braving the rain and waiting in line to get in.

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Fans gathered in the arena to watch players come out for media. There were roars every time a superstar walked out, like Giannis Antetokounmpo.

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Bigger-name stars also meant more media.

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The King held court for a big crowd.

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Good luck trying to get to Stephen Curry.

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It was tough to get close enough to other big stars, like Blake Griffin, even in smaller scrums.

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Dirk Nowitzki drew a big crowd for his final All-Star Game.

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As the weekend continued, the impact on the city was noticeable. Streets and footpaths grew more crowded. It wasn’t unusual to see long lines in random places, for unknown events.

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There were fancy cars parked outside of hotels, and people on the streets gathered in hopes of seeing celebrities.

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There was a mix of sponsored events and parties throughout the city. LeBron James spoke at Nike’s “Own the Game HQ,” and drew quite a gathering outside the Mint.

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It was just as crowded inside.

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People were lining the stairs to get a look.

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As a media member, I got an inside spot on the court, as James talked about about his career, kids, and influence.

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Read more:
LeBron James had a great answer for why he doesn’t talk about his NBA career with his kids


James said hello to some of his younger fans afterward.

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On Saturday night, NBA TV’s “The Starters” held a live taping of their podcast from The Unknown Brewing Company.

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That, too, drew a sizable crowd.

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Of course, there were the All-Star events themselves! I was surprised by how crowded the streets became around The Spectrum Center, the Hornets’ home arena and the site of the games.

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Roads leading to the arena were blocked off from traffic.

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The grand entrance of the Spectrum Center.

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Another entrance to the building…

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The crowd was slow to fill in on Friday night.

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It did eventually fill in, however. The following nights looked full.

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The media seats weren’t exactly courtside, but they weren’t bad.

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Represent!

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver held his annual All-Star press conference on Saturday, addressing the state of the league, the Anthony Davis trade saga, and even roasting Dirk Nowitzki.

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Read more: Adam Silver roasted Dirk Nowitzki at his All-Star Weekend press conference


The media workroom was on the court level of the Spectrum Center and was pretty crowded.

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The mascots were up to their antics all over the arena. Here’s Bulls mascot, Benny, crashing the hair-and-makeup room.

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The on-court performances were generally entertaining. Stephen Curry and Joe Harris dueled in the three-point contest, with Harris narrowly edging out Curry.


Dennis Smith Jr. dunked over J. Cole in the dunk contest.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Hamidou Diallo took home the trophy with his dunk over Shaq.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Read more:
Hamidou Diallo nails absurd dunk over Shaquille O’Neal on the way to winning 2019 NBA Slam Dunk Contest


And in Sunday’s All-Star Game, Kevin Durant took home the MVP while leading Team LeBron to the win.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Though Stephen Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo produced the highlight of the night when they connected on a bounce-pass-alley-oop.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Read more:Steph Curry’s insane bounce pass for Giannis Antetokounmpo’s alley-oop stole the show at the NBA All-Star game


On the final night, Michael Jordan made an appearance, as the NBA announced the 2020 All-Star Game would be in Chicago.

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After four long days, the weekend concluded. All-Star Weekend isn’t the easiest or most convenient event for media members, but I was left impressed by the sheer size of the event and the growing popularity of the league. Until next year…

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Read more of Business Insider’s All-Star Weekend coverage…

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