Walking down the main strip outside the US Airways Arena, many of the conceptions the public may have regarding the All-Star Weekend atmosphere are unfortunately validated. Hordes of people push and shove their way through the sidewalks. Police, usually in groups of three, man nearly every street corner keeping a watchful eye. Scalpers are relentless. Evangelists go about trying to save souls with bullhorns. Street-level party promoters try to convince you to attend their functions with promises that all the biggest stars in the NBA will be there. And that's just during the day time.
At night it's worse. Music played at the level sufficient to wake the dead blares out of every club, which is probably the least objectionable facet of the scene. The scantily-clad and overly-cologned overflow into the streets doing all the foolish things you would expect of those who choose to frequent establishments with lines wrapping around the block. Cops on the street seemingly triple from their daytime numbers. And on it goes for four days.
But the ironic thing is that while many of the fans who come to All-Star Weekend do so to cut loose, many of the All-Stars themselves opt to spend the time with their families. Off time during the NBA season is scarce, so when guys like Brandon Roy get a few days away from the court, they fly in kin rather than groupies.
"I think most guys bring their families," said Roy. "My family is here this year. They were here with me last year. They’ll probably be here with me every year, if I make it."
This year, All-Star Saturday also happened to be Valentine's Day, and from what I saw out and about after the festivities, plenty of people took the opportunity to look for love in what most would consider to be all the wrong places.
But not B.Roy.
“I get to spend Valentine’s Day with my fiancé and my mom," said Roy. "Both my special ladies."
And to hear Roy tell it, he's not alone when it comes to All-Stars who prefer to play it low key on the party scene. No one should be so naive to think that every player is spending the weekend catching up with family, but there's definitely a contingent that plays it cool.
"I talked to Kobe and he said him and his wife stayed up all night playing poker," said Roy. "Chris Paul and his fiancé were just hanging out. She’s expecting a baby. All the guys I talked to, Chauncey (Billups), everybody is with their family. I don’t think people really know that. We get a break, and you want to spend it with your loved ones."