After years of having the BEKO BBL Allstar game in Cologne and two years in Mannheim with many empty seats and an atmosphere that was missing some kind of electric shock to pep things up and Howard Stern to help get the crowd get going, the BEKO BBL decided to hold the festivities in smaller venues in Bonn last year and in Trier this year and have been able to fill the seats and bring an atmosphere that one can describe as breathtaking possibily only topped by a game 5 playoff bedlam game in Bamberg against The Deutsche Bank Skyliners.The BEKO BBL once again presented a versatile show for the fans for 7 hours with great acts performing on the floor, an interesting NBBL allstar game with the 24 best young German players showing their tricks, a sharp shooting three point contest that was won by Jacob Burtschi, a very entertaining slam dunk contest in which Salu Benjamin Tadi ran away with the trophy keeping some professionals like Quantez Robertson and Torrell Martin displaying wide jaws in astonishment and possibly a trip to the doctor on Monday to check if they can still smile without having aches, and a high scoring BEKO BBL Allstar game in which the North won again 114-104 for the 11th time in the last 13 years showing a dominance that Bamberg once had over The Deutsche Bank Skyliners from 2005-2010 where Frankfurt had just as many problems winning as the Giessen 46ers momentarily have, but a savior in Michael Hakim Jordan who is on the way who will bring some of his Wolf sneer to the Osthalle to scare away the opponents and then greet them with his million dollar smile after the game for a beer.
The BEKO BBL Allstar game might be at 8:30pm, but the Allstar day starts already at 3:30 in the afternoon as the first fans start to ramble into the Trier arena. One should not forget, that many helpers were already in the arena hours before preparing for the big day. German singer Francisca Urio was already preparing to sing her song “we are one” for the end of the day who is the new face of German TV channel Sport 1. Finally at 3:30 the doors were opened and the fans were able to get a first taste of the Trier arena for many in was the first time there. At 4:00, it was time for the BEKO BBL allstars to make their first appearance signing autographs for the fans. Okay I might not be a kid anymore, but even this reporter got in line and was the 4th person so I could quickly get my things signed and then start work with interviews and preparing for the radio broadcast. Iguess there is still a little of the little miles in me, because as a kid my biggest hobby was getting autographs from athletes and living in Boston, there were no baseball, basketball and ice hockey players from opposing team that were safe from me. Getting autographs was always fun, but the difference now to getting players signatures back to in the day, is that I know a majority of the players. It is always a treat to see the young kids getting autographs of their heros and seeing that special twinkle in their eyes as they are face to face with the players. Dragon Tobi the dragon was already getting ready for the game and might of had an extra batch of Red Bull in his cave as he stood on top of one of the tables where the players were signing autographs..
Another great thing about Allstar Day is being able to see people you normally only see once or twice during the season. With only little time during BEKO BBL games, one has the chance to be able to speak longer with players, managers, coaches and fans. It was great seeing AJ Moye, who was all over the place chatting with fans and players. He was chosen by Brose Baskets coach Chris Fleming to sit on the BEKO BBL South team. It was great being able to talk for a longer time with the ex Tuebingen player and one could see in the sparkle in his eyes that he was enjoying the festivities like a little kid finding some money under the pillow from the tooth fairy. I also was able to see Quentin Pryor, Richard Chaney and Barry Stewart who were in attendance. It was also nice seeing Skyliner captain Pascal Roller and EnBW Ludwigsburg German David Mccray having an intense conversation, but with many laughing moments. Another interesting thing that you will only see at the BEKO BBL allstar game is seeing a whole section in the arena filled with representatives of BEKO BBL teams. As I was sitting behind BBC Bayreuth player Osvaldo Jeanty and asking when he will finally play again, I was greeted by En BW manager Alexander Reil, EnBW coach Markus Jochum and EnBW sports director Mario Probst who just arrived for the NBBL game and had to get by me to get to their seats. Seeing my friend Ratiopharm coach Mike Taylor is always a pleasure even if he is always very busy and not far behind is his side kick Ratiopharm Ulm manager Thomas Stoll who always seems expressionless, but as soon as you talk to him, he can burst out with a laugh that will blow you away. It was also nice seeing Sven Simon from legendary German basketball magazine Five and Marko Pesic the ex German national player from Lumani. I was also able to record new interviews of David Mccray, Chris Fleming, Derrick Allen and Skyliners Dashaun Wood and Jimmy Mckinney for my weekly radio basketball show.
Next on the agenda at 5:00 was the NBBL allstar game featuring the 24 best German players. This is always a great game to see which youngsters are on the rise. “I think this game is a good idea. One day these guys are going be big players”, stressed Skyliner guard Jimmy Mckinney. Team South was able to win the game 64-59. Team south was led by TSV Troester Breitengussbach/Brose Baskets Bamberg Phillip Neumann who seemed to like the number 8 on this day as he scored 18 points, grabbed 8 rebounds in 18 minutes. He has seen action for Bamberg this season and was being watched closely by Bamberg skipper Chris Fleming. “Phillip is playing well this season, but one cant forget that he is only 18 years old. He works very hard and always wants to get better, but he still has a long way to go”, added Chris Fleming. Ratiopharm. The NBBL North team was led by Lars Wendt with 18 points who plays for Benslips Baskets Salzkotten.
Next on the agenda at The 2011 BEKO BBL Allstar game was the three point shooting contest. Pete Campbell who has a shot that as times looks as deadly as rocket just being launched on a basketball court and the cool and calm ex NBA player Casey Jacobsen were the favorites, but were both surprised by Phoenix Hagen forward Jacob Burtschi who won and 5 months ago didnt even know if a professional basketball career was in his cards as he had been at the Air Force working since graduating 2007 and was unable to play professional basketball. “It is definitely a little strange being a 26 year old rookie but im happy that I have the opportunity to play. I had a commitment to the Air Force, served my time, and now I have an opportunity to chase a childhood dream. A few days before the three point competition, Burtschi was relaxed and even humorous about his chances of winning. “I hope that I dont finish in single digits”, joked Jacob Burtschi. He saved his best for last as he finished with 18 points, Casey Jocobsen had 16 points and German national player Phillip Schwethelm with 16 points.
Up next was the slam dunk contest which is always the first real giant highlight of the Allstar day as five player enter the court and show their athletic capabilities while stuffing an orange ball into the basket. The number of photo flashes that occur during this massive highlight session is unknown, but it is so much that teen star Justin Bieber would be overwhelmed who is photographed about as much per day as legendary basketball broadcaster Marv Alpert yells yesssssssss. With every passing year, just dunking the ball is boring, so it continues to be very important to be creative with a impressive showmanship for the fans and coming up with new unseen dunks. Eisbaeren Bremerhaven American Torrell Martin showed his creative genes instantly with the help of teammate Phillip Schwethelm as he ran down the court with a Germany shirt and small German flag in his hand as Schwethelm made a full court rainbow pass which bounced at the free throw line and Martin swept it in his hands and dunked. TBB Trier guard John Bynum got a 10 from TBB Trier coach Henrik Roedl who was moonlighting as a judge to give him confidence before his first dunk. Bynum made it to the final, but was unable to make any of his final dunks. Earlier he had made a beautiful dunk throwing the ball of the shot clock. Bynum finished in third place and still showed that for a 32 year old, he could still keep up with the young bucks. Skyliner energy bundle Quantez Super Tez Robertson made it to the final, but was unable to make a dunk from teammate Jimmy Mckinney shooting the ball off the side of the back board. Robertson was a finalist for the second year in a row. The winner was Salu Benjamin Tadi who really amazed the crowd and players with a showcase of dunks one spectacular than the other. He was very creative and was sprouting with a confidence that Tom Brady had early in his career and Larry Bird had during late game plays. Tadi who comes from Rosenheim in Bavaria showed his love for flying over people as the only thing missing was making his imaginary wings into real wings. He confidently took Phoenix Hagen American Mark Dorris to the basket halfway from the free throw line to the basket and flew over him with a crashing dunk with a sense of little hardship as if he was doing something easy like eating a Big Mac. He then proceeded to dunk over four human beings and four mascots. All in all, the fans got a huge show from the dunkers and wont forget Tadi that quickly.
The team mascots are a big part of the BEKO BBL games each weekend with their playful scenes with fans and fooling around on the court as is eating hot dogs and peanuts at major league baseball games in the United States. At The BEKO BBL Allstar game, all the mascots come together have their secret conference on the court and then play, have fun and walk around taking pictures with the fans. The most scary looking mascot might be Tobi the Dragon, but he was very friendly joking around with fans. The New Yorker Phantom was looking as terrifying as always and Skyliner mascot Dunking Kong came along with his wife Sky Girl who is showing up more and more in recent weeks in the Ballsporthalle. The most spectacular mascots were Fabius(Dad) and his kid Fabi who display their tricks in the Osthalle in Giessen. They were as energetic as always as both rode on their unicycles and Fabius was walking tall on his stilts. The fans were also entertained by the Dunking devils from Slovenia who gave a fascinating show jumping, jumping and jumping off trampolines and stuffing balls into the rims as if it was the easiest thing. The Dunkin´g Devils have performed in cities like New York, Tokyo, Singapur, Madrid and Tunis and each time having the fans begging for more.
Finally at 8:30 it was time for the 2011 BEKO BBL Allstar game the final act to a perfect basketball delicacy that was served to the fans. The North have dominated this Allstar game since 1987 with a record of 16-3. Since 1998, the South have only won this fun game twice including a 102-92 win last year in Bonn as Telekom Baskets Bonn center Chris Ensminger was voted MVP. The first half was tight as the BEKO BBL north was leading 37-32 after one quarter thanks to Alba Berlin forward Derrick Allen who made his first four shots having 9 points. In the second quarter, the BEKO BBL south team retook the lead as Skyliner Dashaun Wood put a stamp on the game leading the south into halftime with a 63-57 lead. Chris Fleming was very vocal in the first half, while Artland Dragon coach of the North Stefan Koch was extremly calm as if he knew that his team would come out of their funk in the second half. For me it was a thrill again to be able to broadcast my 6th consecutive BEKO BBL Allstar game in Trier. After two games in Cologne, two in Mannheim and one in Bonn. It was a lot of fun being able to call the first half with Skyliner Quantez Robertson. Super Tez was in pretty good spirits despite being a slam dunk finalist for the second straight year, he was impressed by the strong games of Derrick Allen and Dashaun Wood. In the second half, I had the privilege to call the game with Artland Dragon Adam Hess who had done his work for the day competing in the three point shooting contest. I was impressed how well Hess could speak German. I knew he was married to a German woman, but this was only his third year playing in Germany. His wife must have done wonders, because I have not heard an American player or coach speak as good German as Hess ever in the BEKO BBL despite guys like Chris Fleming and Mike Taylor who speak good German, but have been a lot longer in Germany. Hess did a great job with game analysis, popping in jokes all the while speaking German for 97% of the time. The BEKO BBL north team came alive in the third quarter taking control of the game out scoring the BEKO BBL south team 31-10. The North did have one guy take control, but had a lot of support from New Yorker Phantom Braunschweig Marcus Goree, Torrell Martin and Draren Fenn. In the fourth quarter, The BEKO BBL north team had a comfortable lead and the BEKO BBL south team simply missed too many shots. The BEKO BBL south team outscored The BEKO BBL north team 31-26 in the fourth quarter, but it was too little to late as the BEKO BBL north team took home another victory. The BEKO BBL Allstar MVP which was voted on by the fans was Brose Baskets Bamberg forward Kyle Hines who finished with 15 points and four rebounds.
The BEKO BBL north team was led by Torrell Martin with 19 points. Darren Fenn(Artland Dragons) had 14 points. Marcus Goree chipped in with 13 points and 10 rebounds and ex Skyliner Derrick Allen chipped in with 13 points and eight rebounds. Louis Campbell contributed 11 points and Immanuel Mcelroy 10 points, three rebounds and four assists. The BEKO BBL south team was led by Kyle Hines and Phillip Zwiener with 15 points a piece. Tibor Pleiss chipped in with 13 points and 14 rebounds and EnBW Ludwigsburg American Alex Harris had 13 points as well. After 8 hours, The 2011 BEKO BBL Allstar game had come and gone and now all teams could focus on the second half of the season. The question will be can any team stop the Brose Baskets Bamberg in a five game playoff series? That could be as difficult as it momentarily is for NCAA teams to stop UCONN guard Kemba Walker winning games in crunch time and last second shots like his recent buzzer beater at halftime against Tennessee to give UCONN the 32-31 lead.