It all happened on the same weekend as the Oscars this year, and that makes sense. NBA All-Star Weekend is nothing if not "Hollywood as hell," so it's only appropriate that LeBron James was at the center of it all this year. If nothing else, All-Star Weekend was a reminder that this is LeBron's league now.
Today's superstars dress like LeBron -- all in plaid button-downs you'd expect to see at a ski lodge, with hipster glasses you'd expect to see in Park Slope. They talk like LeBron -- no generation of superstars has ever been better with the media. And when the camera pans to superstars on the court or in the front row for the dunk contest, they're all joking around with LeBron. They act like LeBron, too. It's no coincidence that two years after LeBron turned the NBA on its head, the biggest story hanging in Orlando is whether Dwight Howard will leave the host city this summer.
Before Sunday night's All-Star Game, when the Eastern Conference All-Stars did their walkthroughs for introductions, I had my back turned when LeBron and the starters finally got on that gigantic All-Star stage. With my back turned, I heard someone yelling, "TWO CHAINZ!"
For the uninitiated: 2 Chainz is a B-list rapper whose name used to be Tity Boi, but over the past six months or so he's gotten all sorts of underground buzz on the strength of mixtapes. And since this was All-Star Weekend, I kinda figured that it was him or someone from his entourage, yelling in the background. But I turned around and it was LeBron, yelling "Two Chainz" over and over and collapsing in laughter each time. Fast forward to the actual All-Star intros, and when Dwight is triumphantly introduced to his home crowd, if you read his lips, there he is shouting "TWO CHAINZ!" just like 'Bron. Obviously.