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Jody Genessy: Kobe, Jimmer, ketchup chips and other fun All-Star Weekend memories

Published: Sunday, Feb. 14 2016 11:05 p.m. MST

Jimmer Fredette doing an extra set of MVP trophy lifting after he was named MVP of the D-League All-Star Game.

Jody Genessy, Deseret News

TORONTO — There weren’t any Utah Jazz players participating in the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night, so my brave editor gave me free reign on my story topic.

It was tempting to explore an angle no other sports writer thought of tackling — Kobe Bryant’s final All-Star appearance, for instance — but I don’t want to get laughed at the next time the Professional Basketball Writers Association meets.

Writing about the hometown cooking by the referees was another possibility — after all, the East had 250 percent more free throws than the West — but nobody wants to read about refs.

It’s also highly likely that nobody wants to read much about a game that featured a combined 369 points, 286 shots, 139 3-pointers, seven free throws and innumerable Kobe adoration moments.

Instead, let’s take a stroll through my All-Star Weekend memory lane and/or wisecracks (an option I chose, in part, so I didn’t have to fight 75,000 reporters in the media mixed zone):

• The NBA produced a stirring video for a pregame tribute to Kobe. It included his career highlights, from game-winning baskets to his 81-point game. Not included: Clips from his playoff airballs against the Jazz when he was a rookie.

• Some people were stunned the NBA chose a non-Canadian musical act à la Toronto’s very own Drake. Sting, whose fame peaked before many of the current All-Stars were even born, was an odd choice but he sounded good. At least this ‘80s kid enjoyed his 10-minute act. The guy next to me apparently didn’t. I only say that because he muttered, “I’m going to fall asleep” as Sting performed “Every Breath You Take.”

• In retrospect, it’s likely the NBA picked Sting to honor the beginning of Kobe’s NBA career.

• Just for old-time sakes, Kobe waved off a pick by Karl Malone to reminisce about one of his previous 18 All-Star games. (Not really, but it would've been a propos considering this one.)

• Kobe’s first basket was a short jumper that spun and spun and spun around and on top of the rim before finally plopping in. His second shot bounced on the rim three times before dropping in. If he could repeat those shots on a consistent basis, he might have a future with the Harlem Globetrotters.

• The grandson of James Naismith, basketball's founder and Ontario native, received a basketball from LeBron James. The ball had been signed by all of the All-Star players. It will look great in a peach basket on Naismith’s mantle.

• The label on the pizza served at the Air Canada Centre included these words next to each other: “pizza pizza 100% Recycled!”

• Sign I’m in Canada, Part I: I saw a commercial for curling (the sport, not for hair) on my hotel TV.

• Random cabbie’s response when told I’m from Utah: “The Land of Karl Malone, The Mailman.”

• Friendly warning: Kawhi Leonard’s bodyguards will bulldoze you if they want the NBA star to be in the spot where you are.

• En route to Canada, I chatted with an NBA ref with whom I crossed paths. First, he said how much he appreciates how the Jazz — players, coaches and the organization — respectfully interact with officials.

The ref then laughed about how Trevor Booker disputed a call he made in a recent game.

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