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Gerald Herbert, Associated Press
West Team's Damian Lillard, of the Portland Trail Blazers (0) during the NBA All Star basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, in New Orleans.
My mission, actually, (Saturday) was trying to figure out the rules of curling. I failed miserably, but it was still fun to watch. —Kobe Bryant

NEW ORLEANS — Part of the fun of big sporting events is hearing the, um, interesting questions some reporters ask players during media sessions.

Like the other NBA All-Stars, Damian Lillard experienced that with an international reporter over the weekend.

This is how their conversation played out:

Reporter: “This is the year of the horse in China. Do you know which year you were born in?”

Lillard: “I was born in 1990.”

Reporter: “Yeah, that’s the year of the horse.”

Lillard: “That’s the year of horse?”

Reporter: “Yeah, This is your year. What do you know about the horse?”

Lillard: “What do I know about a horse? I know that people ride them. They have really strong muscles. That’s pretty much it.”

Former Jazz forward Paul Millsap wasn’t asked about horses, but he was asked if he plays "NBA 2K14," a popular basketball video game many players play in their spare time.

Millsap surprised the reporter when he admitted that he doesn’t play as the Atlanta Hawks, his current squad.


“I try not to use our team because I get enough at practice seeing our guys,” he said, laughing. “To go play them on the video game is too much.”

So, who does he play as? “Just random teams.”

Millsap was also asked to chime in on the face change New Orleans’ mascot, Pierre the Pelican, underwent this past week. The character now sports a friendlier, cartoon-like mug after his previous head was oft-ridiculed for being freaky looking.

“I like the scary guy,” Millsap said. “The scary guy is intimidating. (The new one) looks too nice.”

TIGHT FIT: Before their teams competed in the Shooting Stars Challenge on Saturday night, Tim Hardaway Sr. and Karl Malone ran into each other while strolling through the pressroom.

When he saw the Mailman in a form-fitting, red All-Star Saturday shirt, the former star point guard laughed and quipped, "Can someone give Karl Malone a bigger shirt?"

WEIGHTY MATTERS: Speaking of his physique, the fit 50-year-old Malone admitted he does cardio for an hour and 15 minutes a day but doesn’t have a time limit on his arduous resistance training regiment.

“When I get tired, I just stop,” he said.

Malone, whose arms are larger than most people’s legs, was asked how much he can bench press.

“Whatever I need to,” he said. “Really, I don’t know.”

FUTURE CURLER?: Lakers star Kobe Bryant was voted in as an All-Star despite his injury situation this season, but he didn’t play in Sunday’s game. Because of heavy demand, the Lakers star did hold a press conference before tipoff.

After admitting his knee rehab is “coming slowly,” Bryant was asked about his interest in the Winter Olympics.

“I’ve been following the Sochi Games,” he said. “Every single day I’ve been watching it, marveling at those athletic accomplishments. I’ve been watching virtually every single sport.”

One sport, however, is of particular interest to the gold medal-winning Olympic basketball player.

“My mission, actually, (Saturday) was trying to figure out the rules of curling,” he said. “I failed miserably, but it was still fun to watch.”

MARTIAL ARTIST: At another point, Lillard was asked about how he did martial arts over the offseason.

“Who told you that?” the Blazers guard asked.

The reporter told him he read it in a newspaper article.

“Two summers ago, I did some karate stuff back home,” Lillard said. “I just did it because I wanted to mess around a little bit.”

Lillard then took a Karate Kid-like stance and kicked … ah, OK, he didn’t, but that would’ve spiced the occasionally weird interview up even more.

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