With support from the NBA, Ticketmaster and Unity: Journalists For Diversity in January selected Charmaine Nero as the recipient of a student fellowship program created to advance diversity in sports reporting. The Ticketmaster/UNITY fellowship program was offered to currently enrolled journalism students as well as recent graduates who were asked to submit short essays on the importance of diversity in sports journalism. In addition to receiving $2,500 in tuition assistance, Charmaine was granted access to a variety of in-arena and community-facing NBA All-Star 2015 related events and activities in New York City, Feb. 11-15, 2015. Here is her report:
Being a part of my first NBA All-Star Weekend was a great experience, and one that I will remember for years. As a huge basketball fan and an aspiring sports reporter, when I received word that I had won the Ticketmaster fellowship, my joy was immeasurable. Through this program, not only did I have an opportunity to attend the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge, NBA All-Star 2015 Media Day, Gatorade All-Star 2015 Battle of the Boroughs, and the NBA All-Star Practice presented by Sean John at Macy’s, but a chance to meet NBA legends and current athletes at NBA House presented by BBVA Compass.
At the NBA All-Star Practice presented by Sean John at Macy’s, I sat in the media section along with reporters from many major news outlets, getting an up close view of the athletes that participated in the game, including some of my personal favorites, Stephen Curry and LeBron James. It was amazing to be there in person and to see all of my favorite players, something completely unlike the experience of watching a game at home in your living room!
One of the places I visited was the NBA House presented by BBVA Compass, where fans could meet players, retired and current, who walked around the space, signing autographs and participating in activities.
From contests to interactive games and player meet and greets, NBA House packed a load of surprises. Fans had the opportunity to meet Jeff Teague, Trey Burke, and legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Muggsy Bogues.
Seeing the many engaged NBA fans was exciting and I had a chance to interact with a number of them including 23-year-old NYC resident, Jason. I snapped a shot of him while he was posing with the trophy, one of the favorite attractions at the event.
Creating opportunities for fans to engage with the NBA was a central theme of the week’s events, for example, fans also had the chance to meet their favorite players at the Samsung Galaxy Studio on Prince Street in Downtown Manhattan. The lineup included Alonzo Mourning, Paul Millsap, Wesley Matthews, Jr., James Harden, Klay Thompson, Al Horford, and Anthony Davis.
But the best experience for me was meeting Hall of Famer and former NBA MVP, Mitch Richmond. It was my first time interviewing a professional athlete, and it is definitely an experience I will take with me from the event.
For my interview, I was escorted to the area where Mitch Richmond would be walking on to the court to meet and greet fans. I waited for him with great anticipation to finally meet a Hall of Fame NBA player and a pioneer from the golden era of basketball. I was introduced to him and I immediately asked if I could interview him briefly. I rehearsed questions to ask, including whom he thought would be MVP of the All-Star Game later on that night. He replied, “James Harden, of course!” I agreed, and suggested that Steph Curry might give him a run for his money. He laughed and contemplated my answer, eventually agreeing. He also mentioned that his favorite part of being at NBA All-Star events and NBA House presented by BBVA Compass, was the chance to interact with kids and the NBA fans.
As we parted ways, I couldn’t help but to relish in the excitement of meeting Richmond and experiencing my first trip to All-Star Weekend.
Overall, winning this fellowship has reassured my love of basketball and the joy that comes from being immersed in such a prolific sports event. I plan to attend many more All-Star events and one-day hope to live out my dreams of reporting from the sidelines.