When something big comes around like the All-Star game or the playoffs, the crew isn’t satisfied with just sitting in the newsroom watching the game on TV while simultaneously working. So long before I started working here, the department was given permission to work from what used to be the Organ Loft of the arena. We’ve begun calling it the “Skybox.”

The Skybox isn’t perfect by any means. We can’t see the scoreboard above the court, we’re higher than even the nosebleed seats and there is no elevator so we get to carry all of our computers, cameras and any other equipment we may have up several flights of stairs. But it’s definitely better than listening to the crowd have a good time and knowing we are at the arena but not really experiencing the game!

Since we would be using the Skybox for All-Star weekend, I assigned myself to go up and check out the data connections, TV’s and power to make sure everything was working properly for the big event. At least, that’s what I told my co-workers and boss. My real reason for going up there was so I could work while watching everything on the court get set up and to get a sneak-peak while the performers rehearsed.

I’ve only been up here for a few hours but in this short time, I’ve seen some interesting and absolutely hilarious things:

  • As you have probably heard, Shaquille O’Neal is going to be announcing the All-Star starters. When he showed up for rehearsal, he was the only person on the court I could recognize without binoculars. The dance group JabbaWockeeZ will be performing during the All-Star introductions and they were on the court practicing. When Shaq was introduced to them, he did a nice little dance move for the group before he shook their hands.
  • If you’ve watched the All-Star game in the past, you’ll remember that the introductions of players is more of a production than just a list of names. And everything is rehearsed. Since the players aren’t in town yet, it means the initial rehearsals need stand-ins. It’s kind of funny to hear the announcer say LeBron James and then see a skinny old man or a woman come out and pose like LeBron would. In fact, I wish they would do that during the real game. It’d be quite a surprise!
  • The rehearsal has a real person in every spot where there will be someone during the game on Sunday. They don’t just hope that everything works out that day. They practice the production again and again and have stand-ins for every possible person who will participate in those introductions. it’s really something to see.

You’ll see a lot more from the Skybox as the weekend progresses. I wondered whether it would be worth the time and effort to be up in the Skybox (probably by myself for much of the weekend) but I don’t think I’ll be disappointed. In fact, I wish now that I would have pursued an idea that was thrown out in one of our meetings that I spend the entire weekend in the Skybox! Of course, my wife probably wouldn’t have been too happy with that. Instead, I’ll just try to spend as much time as I can from up here to help give you a different perspective of All-Star Weekend.

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