By David Jordan Jr
A Celebration of Basketball. That’s what NBA All-Star Weekend has always been called. A celebration of the games greatest players, both past, and present coming together to celebrate everything great about the NBA. The 67th annual NBA All-Star game took place in Los Angeles, California, home of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. As much as the weekend is about the events taking place on the court throughout, the essence of All-Star weekend lies in the history of the game. The great players which have graced the NBA courts that have elevated the game, the contributions of these players off the court and the natural ability of these individuals to be ambassadors of the league worldwide were on display for the entire weekend. Of the numerous legends present for NBA All-Star Weekend 2018, one great stood out head and shoulders amongst his Hall of Fame Peers; Isiah Lord Thomas III. Businessman, Top 50 NBA Player of All Time, Hall Of Famer, NCAA Champion, and two-time NBA Champion, Thomas left an indelible mark on All-Star Weekend 2018 with his success and knowledge as a businessman. The CEO and Chairman of Isiah Thomas International LLC, Thomas had the perfect platform to introduce his imported champagne, Cheurlin Champagne to the entire NBA family and its sponsors. Partnering with the National Basketball Retired Players Association, Cheurlin Champagne was the drink of choice for everybody that attended any of the Legends events during NBA All-Star Weekend. The NBRPA Legends Welcome Reception on Friday signified the official beginning of NBA All-Star Weekend with the presence of numerous NBA Legends and Hall of Famers. Held at the LA Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, one could look in any direction in the ballroom and their vision would instantly be filled with excellence. From Elgin Baylor to Spencer Haywood, Bo Kimble, Dave Cowens, Jamaal Wilkes just to name a few, legends from all eras of NBA basketball were present in the room. Speaking during the reception, Thomas spoke of his life, his inspirations and how many of the legends present in the room, as well as those not present influenced and inspired him to achieve in all areas of his life. “Players Only” was the theme for the day and it was only fitting that the reception ended with a toast of his bottled perfection, Cheurlin. One of the priceless moments for a person being at the reception, whether an NBA Alum or not, was being able to witness the NBA brotherhood in its purest form. NBA Legends which were formidable adversaries at certain points in their careers showered love and praise upon each other throughout the entire evening. Speaking to each other with love, these legends also spoke with the same love and respect for their NBA brothers which are no longer here, (specifically JoJo White, who passed on January 16, 2018). A room full of NBA Legends and their families enjoying Cheurlin Champagne was the perfect start to an amazing weekend of love, and inspiration.
The ever-evolving relationship between the NBA and technology was the platform for Saturday’s event which took place at The London Hotel in West Hollywood. The NBPA, Base Ventures & Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown held court on the rooftop of The London Hotel with “Tech Hustle.” This event featured some of the brightest minds and innovators in the world of tech, music, media, and entertainment. Scheduled speakers included Troy Carter, Jaylen Brown, Erik Moore, Ethan Brown, Too Short, Isiah Thomas, Bozoma Saint John, Ghazi Shami, Dominique Wilkins, Ameer Hasan Loggins, Morgan Debaun and David Krane, each of whom had unique experiences that not only educated and enlightened everybody on how technology had influenced their lives, but also how technology will continue to be a major player in the world in all avenues. Musician, entrepreneur, and innovator Chamillionaire also spoke about how tech has played an instrumental part in his entrepreneurial endeavors and ventures. Chamillionaire (whose real name is Hakeen Seriki) has founded and invested in multiple startups over the years and in constantly seeking and creating new pathways for growth in the world of tech. Many notables were present for the duration of the event. 2016 NBA Slam Dunk Champion and Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon, Golden State Warriors forward JaVale McGee (2017 NBA Champion) were present. Angela Benton, Founder & CEO of NewME Accelerator was on hand as well as many entrepreneurs and innovators engaged and connected with each other. Speaking at this event, Thomas spoke about his different business endeavors over the years and how each entity played a role in where he is at today in with his portfolio in the world of business. As with his own court career, Isiah was the first to do many things off the court, most notably the streaming of professional sports via the world wide web. A visionary, his grasp of how the internet and sports could work together for the advancement of both is evident in all sports with many games, leagues, and events being streamed online in 2018. Speaking from his experiences as not only a businessman but as a black man, Isiah showed how the combination of hard work, vision and faith can spearhead one to success, no matter where one may start. Similar to a stutter step, through the legs crossover whooing the crowd, Isiah wowed the audience when he brought eight-time Grammy Award-winning artist Lauryn Hill on the stage to speak. Hill spoke about not only technology and it’s place in the world, but she also passionately spoke about how everybody of this worlds holds a key to changing this world for the better. Having traveled the world numerous times, Hill was able to speak from a place of great insight as to how people can ultimately be the change needed to not only make the world a better place but to end many of the problems which plague many places, most specifically poverty and homelessness. The words of Hill touched the audience similar to the way her lyrics in any of her songs did but on a different level of intimacy. The sparkling energy from all of those gathered at The London Hotel was matched by the sparkling Cheurlin which was freely flowing throughout “Tech Hustle.”
Thomas’s engagement with all guests and participants throughout the entire weekend signified the one thing that comes to define his life; being a leader and getting all to see the ultimate goal. As a basketball player, Thomas won numerous awards and championships on each level through the remnants of hard work, determination and unmatched leadership. Always a businessman, Thomas has used the same attributes that enabled him to excel and become an NBA Legend to propel him to the top in the world of business. Possessing an extremely vast and diverse portfolio, this weekend allowed Isiah to not only be an inspiration to those that have known him but also to those that may not have known about the successful business ventures which he has created, founded or been a part of through his life. ESHE Magazine raises its glass of Cheurlin and toasts to an NBA All-Star weekend of excellence, education, and inspiration. #YouEarnedIt