Chicago Welcomes the 2020
NBA All-Star Weekend

By Debbie Emery

The NBA’s top stars arrived in Chicago for an All-Star Game for the ages―and a tribute to the fallen.


Not even snow and bone-chilling temperatures could keep fans, Hall-of-Fame players, and Hollywood stars away from the 69th NBA All-Star Game, which returned to Chicago for the third time in February.


This included Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Phil Jackson, legends of arguably the NBA’s greatest dynasty―the 1990s’ Chicago Bulls. Jordan took the honor of welcoming the new generation of NBA elite to the All-Star weekend, which serendipitously coincided with his 57th birthday. Jordan also hosted an extravagant bash on Feb. 14, where VIP guests sipped from mini bottles of Moët dispensed by vending machines, and the only dress code was to wear Air Jordans.


NBA stars weren’t the only ones playing that weekend. The annual All-Star Celebrity Game brought teams of actors, athletes, musicians, and even celebrity chef José Andrés. Captained by Chance the Rapper and Common, the teams faced off at the Wintrust Arena.


The overriding sentiment throughout All-Star weekend, however, was honoring legendary Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant, and his “Mamba Mentality”―”the ultimate mantra for the competitive spirit,” as he called it―ran strong at every event. Even the final score at the United Center was a carefully calculated tribute to Bryant’s jersey number 24 by using an untimed fourth quarter in which Team LeBron defeated Team Giannis 157-155 (1+5+7+1+5+5=24).


Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson performed an emotional rendition of Donny Hathaway’s classic “For All We Know (We May Meet Again)” during the game in tribute to Bryant, as well as late NBA commissioner, David Stern, who died in January.


Tributes to Bryant extended throughout the weekend, including at the 11th Annual Rookie USA Fashion Show at Morgan Manufacturing, featuring J.B. Smoove and Tiffani Amber Thiessen and daughter, Harper, on the runway. Proceeds benefited minority youth in Chicago and MambaOnThree Fund for the seven other victims of Bryant’s helicopter crash.