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Jay-Z brings his $2 million car to Houston: Like Kyrie Irving's hilarious crossover can All-Star compete?

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving didn't win the MVP again. But he still stole the show at the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. Photo by Pool/Getty Images
Jay-Z, with mic, sunglasses
Of course, the mysterious Jay-Z — and his hot car — command an even bigger stage.
Hotel ZaZa, car, basketballs, longhorn
Signs of NBA All-Star fever are all over Houston, but the Hotel ZaZa's basketballs on the top of its courtesy SUVs might be the best display of all. Photo by Shelby Hodge
Kyrie Irving
Jay-Z, with mic, sunglasses
Hotel ZaZa, car, basketballs, longhorn
News_Chris Baldwin_managing editor_arms crossed

It's the start of the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge — the first real basketball event of NBA All-Star Weekend — and the more expensive between-the-baseline seats at Toyota Center are a sea of unoccupied red.

Where is everyone on this Friday night?

Only an All-Star rookie would ask such a question. Like NBA All-Star Weekend is about the basketball! Please. That's a good one, akin to pretending that the dresses aren't really what move the needle at the Oscars. NBA All-Star Weekend is about a lot of things . . . and basketball's lucky to occasionally make the list.

Instead it's about waiting around Hotel ZaZa and running into New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony. Melo, as he's known, appears to be in mighty fine spirits this weekend. Even if he's dealing with a "dead arm." Which is a mighty fine excuse for shooting 5 for 24. No matter, Anthony — who's long carried a media reputation of being something of a grump — smiles and stops for a few fans.

 That's the true scoreboard on NBA All-Star Weekend: Did you get into the right party or not? 

Not that they're necessarily overjoyed to see him.

For the ZaZa lobby loungers are hoping to catch a glimpse of Jay-Z. His car — yes, that $2 million Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport that Beyonce bought him for his birthday a few years ago — is already here. A source tells CultureMap that one of Jay-Z's most prized autos — he has a car collection that would make even Jerry Seinfeld take notice — is on a high floor of the ZaZa parking garage, guarded by its own security detail.

The car arrived ahead of the superstar though.

That's a true All-Star move. Oh, Kyrie Irving pulls off a hell of a basketball one late in the Rising Stars Challenge, clowning Brandon Knight with a crossover, crazy quick dribbling display not seen since the days of Allen Iverson. Knight — a former schoolboy rival of Irving's —is literally floored by the move.

He falls on his ass to hoots from the crowd (some of the better seats are even taken by this point) when Irving finishes by stepping back to hit a jumper.

This is the best moment of a pretty entertaining Rising Stars game. The team selected by TNT analyst/folk hero Charles Barkley puts up 90 points in the first half — a 20-minute first half — on the way to a 163-135 romp over the team picked and coached by NBA champion Shaquille O'Neal (Barkley does not even bother to show up for the start of the game, leaving his fellow analyst Chris Webber to walk around the Toyota floor holding a giant blown-up picture of Barkley's head on a big stick.

 It's more like a traveling carnival, complete with the giant images of the players all over town. 

Denver forward Kenneth Faried — a still relatively unknown player — walks away with the MVP trophy after throwing down 10 dunks in his 40-point night. "That's like a preview," Faried says, doing his obliging best to try and build some hype for Saturday night's Slam Dunk Contest, which he is also participating in.

But again . . . this isn't what NBA All-Star Weekend is truly about.

Heck, Kenneth Faried could not secure an invite to Michael Jordan's 50th birthday party — the one this week's Sports Illustrated cover man (take that LeBron James!) rented the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for Friday night — because no ordinary museum will do for MJ. (Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant did get in though, tweeting it's "the best moment of my life.")

That's the true scoreboard on NBA All-Star Weekend: Did you get into the right party or not?

NBA All-Star Lessons

When departing NBA commissioner David Stern says he "couldn't have imagined" the league's midseason showcase getting this big, it does not come across as false modesty for once. The All-Star colossal has gotten away from the NBA. It's not really in their control anymore. The NBA Finals are a basketball purist's ultimate event. The All-Star Game?

It's more like a traveling carnival, complete with the giant images of the players all over town (Knicks center Tyson Chandler — and his 11.4 points per game average — merits an entire prime outside wall of the Toyota Center? Really?). There are a few authentic touches. Hotel ZaZa putting nets filled with regulation basketballs on the top of its courtesy SUVs is sort of funny.

But mostly, it's all for show.  

NBA All-Star Weekend is about Yao Ming telling an off-color story in an intimate Conversation at the elegant Asia Society Texas Center. One that leaves former Duke star Jay Williams (who is leading Yao in conversation) remarking, "We know he's going to open up . . . but wow."

I rving pulls off a hell of a basketball move, clowning Brandon Knight with a crossover, crazy quick dribbling display not seen since the days of Allen Iverson. 

It's about current NBA superstar Kevin Durant showing up at Toyota Center in a smashing brown suit for a special reception for BBVA, the company he just signed a major endorsement deal with. And revealing that'd he would love to play abroad one day in a back-and-forth with BBVA COO Angel Cano.

So much for the typical, canned corporate Q&A. It turns out that the former University of Texas star has a thing for Barcelona.

What does Durant do after his time commitment is up and he's hustled out a side door? He makes his way down to a prime seat and watches the NBA's young players go at it in the Rising Stars. While Dwyane Wade talks fatherhood with Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church (located inside the Rockets' old basketball arena no less) and LeBron promotes his cartoon show (at the controversial Hudson Lounge), one of the NBA's very biggest stars actually takes in a basketball game.

That's just All-Star Weekend crazy.

What would Jay-Z think? Kevin Durant probably didn't even fly in a car. Amateur.

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