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CNN SPECIAL REPORTS
All Access At The NBA All-Star Weekend: CNN Bleacher Special Report. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired February 14, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[16:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, THE BLEACHER REPORT SHOW HOST: The world's biggest basketball stars and a weekend celebration of the sport.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm happy to be here once again. You know, it's an honor.
VIN DIESEL, ACTOR: It's like the film festival of basketball, man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All-star weekend is the cultural event, a cultural event in America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because nothing like compares to me, it was like a trip to me and my boy and my son will look forward to it every year.
BALDWIN: All-star style, skill and slam dunks for the first time on an international stage.
ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: I think it is symbolic that we are here in Canada. And I think it's the beginning of something bigger.
BALDWIN: It's a special stop on Kobe Bryant's good-bye tour.
KOBE BRYANT, NBA LOS ANGELES PLAYER: I'm really just enjoying the whole thing.
BALDWIN: While a fresh faced superstar rises to new heights, MVP Steph Curry is on a mission.
STEPHEN CURRY, NBA GOLDREN STATE WARRIORS PLAYER: When you have a shot at history and being, you know, the bets regular season team in the NBA, I think you have to go for it.
BALDWIN: This is all access at the NBA all-star weekend a CNN Bleacher Report Special. You have been the best of the best. I mean, what is it like for these guys coming in to Toronto this weekend knowing that they are the top of the game.
STEVE SMITH, BASKETBALL ANALYST: You talk about dreams come true. You make it to the NBA. You want to win the NBA championship, but then individually you get selected to be an all-star. That means you're the best of the best. It's just fantastic. You get the chance to go sometimes with your teammates, get the chance to play the game and then enjoy the festivities. BALDWIN: And the fashion, we're going to talk about that a little
SMITH: There we go.
BALDWIN: All right. So, here's what you need to know. The weekend building towards tonight. The NBA all-star game will be live on our sister network TNT. Do not miss a beat. Pre-game coverage starts at 7 o'clock, followed by the big game at 8.30.
By the way, how about this stat, Steve Smith, the game will be shown in 215 countries. When you talk about the international presence of the league, I don't know how much it's evolved since you were playing but a lot of that is Adam Silver.
SMITH: It is. David Stern, the first commissioner had that, you know, obviously the vision of making this game global. Adam Silver has just taken it to another level. You talked about the reach as far as television coverage, now you have social media. The NBA just announced one billion...
BALDWIN: A billion. One billion followers.
SMITH: ... billion followers. So, it's been fantastic.
BALDWIN: And as we look ahead to the big game it was right around this time last year that we were talking so much about LeBron James, the king himself, and the Cavs.
And this year, it is about the Warriors, it's all about Steph Curry. Let's hear a little from Steph Curry himself. Andy Scholes actually got to sit down with him, spend time with him. And one of his biggest fans Under Armour, CEO Kevin Plank wants to build a billion dollar basketball brand around Steph Curry and that goal recently took them to China.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: And you guys, recently went to China, first international tour for Under Armour.
KEVIN PLANK, UNDER ARMOUR: Yes.
SCHOLES: How fun was that?
CURRY: It was awesome.
PLANK: It was awesome but it was work.
CURRY: It was.
PLANK: Like you learn things the first time through, I mean, you can find citizens in six days. Everywhere Steph goes, I mean, wants to take a shot. You know, like I got two hours of sleep, I've been on a plane, I've been up all night between, I don't know, it was -- it was great. I mean, we had 10,000 people in Manila alone.
CURRY: It was a live, you know, great support.
PLANK: It was like a Madonna concert. I mean, it was 10,000 people sold out arena to watch in the street corners. Four, 5,000 people outside just cheering on the streets.
CURRY: It was a good time. And like you said, you have that many people in the arena you felt like a mini all-star weekend, you know, for us.
SCHOLES: A lot of people have said you were literally changing the game of basketball. How's it that make you feel knowing that people think you were changing a game that's been around for so long?
CURRY: This is how I know how to play the game. And I work at it and try to, you know, take my game to the next level every single year. When I go out there and play and hear, you know, certain kids say I'm working on my ball you had them in success team doing it or, you know, I want to shoot like you and asking questions about how they can get their jump shot right and the time you have to put in, things like that.
That's -- those are the stories I love to hear and see kids be inspired to get the most out of their game, as well.
SCHOLES: How do you describe what you're doing on the court? Because we know it we've never seen it before?
CURRY: It's a show. I think we have a lot of creativity and confidence in what we can do out there. So much skill and talent on our rest there on our team. It's fun to watch. Sometimes you look at the highlights and so after games you kind of be like why did we try that and thankfully most time it works, but that's just us. We're going to keep doing it.
PLANK: It's like a video game. I mean, it is like watching a video game.
SCHOLES: Steph, how would you sum up the season so far?
CURRY: It's been a historical, you know, journey. And it's historic. We have a lot more to accomplish but just the ride that we're on and the way that we're gelling and found a way to end games has been, you know, amazing.
And I think if you look at where we are in the grand scheme of all the great teams that suited up in the history of the NBA and what we are trying to do, you know, it's hard not to be wrapped up in the moment but, you know, appreciate what's going on.
[16:35:00] SCHOLES: Because I was going to ask you about that 48 and 4. You go 25 and 5 the rest of the way that gets you to 73 and 9, how much do you want that?
CURRY: There's not many, you know, opportunities that you probably have to go after that record. I obviously want to win a championship. That's the -- that's the main goal. But there's a reason that we are still talking about, you know, that '95, Bulls '96 team that was able to accomplish the 72 and 9 record.
You know, they were on a mission that year and ended up winning the championship as well. So, that's kind of where we want to be. But when you have a shot at history and being, you know, the best record in the history of the NBA, I think you got to go for it.
SCHLOES: If you beat that Bull's record, win another title is this the greatest team of all a time?
CURRY: If we accomplish those fetes I think it would be hard, you know, to argue we are not. But we will talk about that come June.
SCHLOES: Is Riley going to make a comeback for the post game and trying to make a day view.
CURRY: And Ryan, I'll be a little, you know, but I have to ask with Riley and check with her people and to see if she is -- and if her schedule is open. She is in high demand these days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Oh, my gosh. Basketball fan or not everyone loves Riley. I remember that news conference. You know, the big question, would they possibly beat the Bulls record, that '95, '95 team. You played the bulls, I mean, would you ever think that would have been possible.
SMITH: Look, no way. Playing against that '95, '96 team.
BALDWIN: No way.
SMITH: And they won 72 games, 72 and 10, you know, going up and competing you say, wow, this will never be done again. And now we fast forward to now, you look at the Golden State Warrior team, last year was talked, a talked about, 67-15 phenomenal, they are 48 and 4. To get a chance to be able to clips the '95, '96 Bulls, that is unbelievable.
BALDWIN: And the head coach.
SMITH: Steve Kerr.
BALDWIN: Head coach for the Warriors played for the Bulls in '95, '96.
BALDWIN: That would be pretty sweet. Listen, the celebration is extending far beyond the court here in Toronto. Celebrities as we mentioned, this is a huge part of all-star weekend. But it's the players having a huge impact on everything from music and technology, clothes, can we talk about the sneakers here.
We'll talk about the NBA's growing influence on all things pop culture.
[16:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Welcome back to all access all-star weekend. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
Somehow sitting in Toronto with these two, I'm with my partner in crime turner sports analyst, CNN NBA contributor, Steve Smith here, then we have Grant Hill joining us.
Nineteen seasons in the NBA. Seven appearances in the all-star game. Went to some school down the road from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, starts with a "d." Hey, Grant.
GRANT HILL, RETIRED NBA PLAYER: Hello, how are you?
BALDWIN: How are you?
HILL: Good to see you.
BALDWIN: Good to be here. We're talking fashion and let's go there with some of these guys playing this weekend. Because this weekend as we all know watching, listen, this is so much more than a basketball game. Let's hear from some of the all-star themselves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS PAUL, NBA LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS PLAYER: It's funny. You know, they always say like entertainers want to be athletes and athletes want to be entertainers. So, I think it just, it naturally goes together.
DRAYMOND GREEN, NBA GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS PLAYER: Fashion is a huge thing in the NBA. You know, so I think really it's just kind of nature of our game.
DWYANE WADE, NBA MIAMI HEAT PLAYER: We get to express ourselves through fashion. That's all it is, we see a guy walk in with outfit that you don't understand, he is expressing himself to you guys.
CARMELO ANTHONY, NBA NEW YORK GIANTS: If you think of it, NBA, I mean, who better than to look at, you know, going into a game with fashion. I think, you know, we are trend setters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: When did this happen?
HILL: You know, it's interesting. I think it's been that way for a long time. I think back to Michael Jordan and talk about being a trend setter. The way he wore his clothes on the court, his, you know, shaving his hair, going bald and then the suits.
I know our generation we kind of took pride in at least looking professional.
BALDWIN: Come on, Larry Bird wearing the same pair of dad jeans every day. I don't know is that's quite...
SMITH: That question in a different way fashion. That's a different kind of fashion. But as of late, it has been emerging of sports and entertainment.
BALDWIN: Listen, you mentioned Michael Jordan, people have been rocking JS for a while. This is the official 30th anniversary shoe that was just released Friday. Anytime Michael Jordan releases a new shoe you see the three axis Roman numerals 30 on the box, it's a huge, huge deal.
SMITH: I used to get Michael Jordan shoes to play basketball and now they go with outfits. Guys are wearing it, where suits guys wearing them out.
BALDWIN: They do.
SMITH: And, you know, they are more than a basketball shoe right now.
BALDWIN: Beyond that, it's the whole global growth of this game. You know, here we sit in Toronto, this is the first time outside of the United States that we have seen an all-star game played. Who -- what do you attribute that to?
HILL: Well, I think back to 1992 with the Dream Team. When you have the original Dream Team, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, went to Barcelona and really helped, so to spread the game all over the world. And now you're seeing 20 some odd years later, you are seeing young players coming in, guys becoming all stars.
BALDWIN: Porzingis is the next.
HILL: Porzingis is for the next.
BALDWIN: Seven-foot tall being dude.
HILL: Exactly. And 7'3" and what he's able to do with his skill set as Kevin Durant calling him a unicorn.
HILL: So, being here in Toronto really just sort of embodies the spirit of the globalization of the sport.
SMITH: Then you start to look now, 100 guys were on the roster, 100 international players when they open the roster, that's what two years in a row. And then you look at second consecutive years, all 30 teams have international players. This is phenomenal the growth of the game.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SILVER: These great players just continue to come along. Whether it is because they grow up with bouncing balls in Beijing or some back corner of Mumbai or throughout the United States. You know, so I'm absolutely confident that the next generation of players will just continue to evolve out of the NBA.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: It's so much more beyond a global reach. Because when we talk about influence we cannot obviously also forget sort of the impact that a lot of these all-stars have on major social issues.
For the players, it's not always an easy decision to speak up on these controversial topics. I know these two gentlemen have a lot to say on this. We're talking athletes and activism, next.
[16:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: And welcome back. We are here in Toronto. I'm Brooke Baldwin sitting alongside fellow all stars. I say fellow like I'm an all-star.
SMITH: Yes, you are.
BALDWIN: I'm an all-star?
HILL: Yes, of course.
BALDWIN: OK. Thank you so much. Steve Smith, Grant Hill, it is amazing to be here. And we've talked so thus far about, you know, fashion and the influence around the world, the NBA, Air Jordan's, the 30th edition coming out this weekend but it's also activism.
You know, I've covered on CNN, these stories, Ferguson, Baltimore, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Eric Gardner in New York, and there has really been this sense of activism among the athletes, as well.
SMITH: It has. The guys are doing a lot, especially with social media. That was a big topic. I got the chance to sit down with Ambassador Andrew Young on the topic should athletes be activists. And you will hear from athletes from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and also LeBron James. Let's look at it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: Athletes an an opportunity to express themselves but there's an inherent responsibility.
ANDREW YOUNG, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N. There is a role for an athlete's voice but let's make it as positive as we possibly can and investigate the facts. It helps more when it is truthful.
We had 40 years of background thinking on the problems that we were dealing with. I think that is not true of the present day movements.
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, RETIRED NBA PLAYER: Some of them are socially aware and understanding that this is important. Some have no idea. They think that the civil rights era was something that happened back in the '60s and it's over. LEBRON JAMES, FOUR-TIME NBA MVP: For me it's about knowledge. You
know, there are a lot of issues that I haven't talked about. So, I feel it is important to me and I respond. If it doesn't, I don't.
YOUNG: The less you say and the more you do the better off you are.
ABDUL-JABBAR: When professional athletes go out of their way to bring and incident like the I Can't Breathe t-shirt and then in memory of Eric Gardner who was killed by the police, so the attention of their fans, that means that they are concerned and they are raising awareness. It's a commendable thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: I mean, seeing Kobe there and also LeBron James sort of starting the I Can't Breathe t-shirt movement. But at the same time you can't be all things to all people.
[16:50:03] I mean, people look up to the athletes. But with Tamir Rice in Cleveland, he didn't say anything. How do you handle it with these players, Grant?
HILL: Well, it is tough. Because everybody expects everything from you. But I am impressed and proud of this generation of players. I feel like our generation kind of missed the boat. We had opportunities, we didn't do that.
But these players are doing it and doing it different than the, you know, the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as in Mohammad Ali's and Jim Browns. They are doing it as to me they alluded to, social media, doing it with clothing and using that as a platform and understanding, you know, with that comes a huge responsibility.
HILL: So, you can't be all things to everybody. And of course, when you're in profile like these guys are, everyone expects everything from you. But I have been impressed with what these guys have done.
BALDWIN: But you didn't have Twitter. I mean, maybe that's part of it
HILL: That's right.
BALDWIN: It's a social media. We were talking earlier, Magic Johnson, you know, learning he was HIV positive. That was huge when you were playing, but maybe the platform didn't exist for you to express yourself as much.
SMITH: Well, with Grant, I think our generation could have did more. The platform obviously wasn't like to social media where you can reach so many different people. But I just think for our generation we could have had more of a voice.
I am so proud of what they're doing now. But I think also, I talked to Ambassador Andrew Young. He said it is a full-time job and sometimes you're not educated in person every topic and every situation. So, just make sure you are articulate about it, make sure you come from a positive state of mind and also you're educated on these issues.
BALDWIN: It is incredible the voices they have and they are indeed using them. Turning now to one of the highlights here of the weekend. The Saturday night skills three-point slam dunks competition. Andy Scholes got the lucky assignment to cover it all court side. Let's see how it all went down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: All-star Saturday night in Toronto is going to go down as one of the best we have ever seen.
In the skills challenge for the first time ever, big men were part of the competition and it came down to the wire with Karl-Anthony Towns barely edging Isiah Thomas for the win.
The three-point shootout fittingly came down to the Splash brothers, defending champion Steph Curry and his Warriors teammate Clay Thompson and this was a battle for the ages.
Thompson edging Curry to win his first three-point crowd. In the main event, the dunk contest Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon put on the best show we've seen in years.
It went to double overtime with both dunkers bringing down the house. In the end, LaVine goes through the legs, from the free throw line to win the competition for the second year in a row.
When we come back, we will hear what Kobe has to say about playing in his final all-star game, plus, we'll joined by the man who've seen them all, TNT sideline reporter, Craig Sager.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[16:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Before LeBron, before Curry, there was Kobe and this all- star weekend is all about honoring the Laker legend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRYANT: My first morning in Cleveland was pretty special because You had all of the top 50 players. I think in '98 was pretty special, too. And being my first all-star game and playing, you know, in the locker room. Being in the locker room with the greatest like Stockton and Jackson and all those guys, that was pretty cool, too.
I'm really just enjoying the whole thing. Being around these players and talking to them one more time. Going out and practicing and enjoying the moment in the game, enjoying that moment. So, the competiveness in terms of me trying to establish something or prove something, that's gone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Joining us a man who's had more all-star appearances than Kobe himself. He's Craig Sager, our TNT sideline reporter. And this is 27 for you?
CRAIG SAGER, TNT SIDELINE REPORTER: Yes, 27th all-star game.
BALDWIN: Twenty seven.
SAGER: I don't have consecutive going. First, I had to miss last year because of the illness, but Kobe has got the record for the most consecutive 14, he was 18, so.
BALDWIN: Well, welcome back. And you are beloved, as I heard from among everyone. But to hear from you, you know, you were just talking about your 9-year-old boy and how Kobe is his favorite player. And Kobe has been around for a minute and to know that Kobe truly can transcend generations. Why do you think that is?
SAGER: I think because the fact that you have all of the video games and you have all the highlights and you have everything that's going back to being replayed and people see, you know, how great former players were compared to the players of this year. Plus, he's been watching Kobe for, you know, since he's been born.
HILL: What Kobe has done has been phenomenal. I got a chance to play against him in the all-star game.
SAGER: What was that like?
HILL: The teenager and he was -- that kind of magnitude. We were older guys but we're starting to look at down this.
BALDWIN: He was just coming out of high school.
HILL: He was just coming out of high school and we look at him saying this kid had a chance to be special and he is. And it's a great honor for him and all-star weekend. And him being the last one and I'm going to get a chance to watch it.
SAGER: I remember that game was in New York City.
HILL: New York City.
SAGER: It was 1998, and Kobe, you know, obviously everybody knew who he was and he was only 19 years old. But here comes this 19-year-old. Michael Jordan is in his prime and he is out there and he's going at Michael.
HILL: He is.
SAGER: I mean, he wanted to beat Michael. He want to do this one-on- one moves and Michael was like, you know, come on, kid. You know, and who is the...
SAGER: ... he ends up being with the MVP, Michael, but he got to admit, just admitting this he had 14 points.
BALDWIN: He showed up.
HILL: That's 14 points go.
BALDWIN: He showed up. Nice.
HILL: Yes, he did.
SAGER: He's one of my heroes, he's representing the Atlanta Hawks. I was on Smithy's bandwagon.
HILL: You talked about heroes like Craig Sager has been a hero.
BALDWIN: I'm feeling the love. I'm feeling the love, gentlemen.
HILL: It is. And we talk about fans this in the earlier -- let me get the chance to see.
BALDWIN: Yes. Look at this. By the way, where you want the fashion. Well, you can't see the shoes, beautiful, bright red Nikes. Craig Sager, an honor and a pleasure to meet you, sir. Thank you so much.
SAGER: Hey, thank you. Good to see you.
BALDWIN: And let's just remind everyone here, you can watch the all- star game tonight on our sister network TNT. All right. So, tune in for sure.
Thank you so much for being with us. The news continues here on CNN. Thank you for watching. Hey, thanks for having me and letting me talk basketball.
HILL: Thank you, Brooke, and happy Valentine's Day to you.
BALDWIN: Thank you. Same to you, my friend. And enjoy the game of course. TNT tonight, all the best moments online. Go to Bleacher Report. Thanks for watching.
[17:00:05] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)