NEW YORK (AP) — Klay Thompson walked off the elevator on the fifth floor of the Sheraton Times Square Hotel wearing a white-collared shirt with thin red checkers, dark denim jeans and a tired face.
The first-time All-Star wasn’t going to have much time to catch his breath, either.
Not this weekend.
Golden State’s dynamic shooting guard had played the night before in Minnesota, taken a flight to New York and then gone out for pepperoni pizza in midtown Manhattan, which kept him up past 5 a.m.
“I immediately regretted that decision,” Thompson quipped as he strolled through the hotel to begin the frenzied NBA TV Media Circuit on Thursday.
It was the beginning of a four-day weekend unlike any other in Thompson’s life, one where he made his 3-point contest and All-Star debuts — the latter at Madison Square Garden, no less. And despite all the advice teammates and coaches passed along to him, there was nothing that could’ve prepared him for the experience.
The Associated Press trailed Thompson for parts of his whirlwind weekend to give fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it’s like for a rookie All-Star during the dizzying daze of the festivities.
12:22 p.m. Thursday — Media Blitz.
After a few hours of rest, Thompson meets with NBA officials to begin the media gauntlet. He is scurried down a long, narrow hallway filled with frantic radio and TV producers. He ducks into a holding room, grabs a couple of mini-bagels and muffins from the spread and sits down at a table.
“Breakfast of champions,” he quips.
Teammate Stephen Curry walks into the room. They share a handshake hug, exchange a few pleasantries and are whisked across the hall for a joint interview on ESPN’s Grantland set.
Afterward, Thompson is given a questionnaire to fill out for TNT that asks for a prediction for the winner of the 3-point contest and All-Star game MVP. He chooses Curry for both.
The production assistant tells him Curry picked Thompson for each, too.
— A little more than an hour later, Thompson is in his sixth room for his sixth interview, having already changed wardrobes twice for an NBA Cares promotion and an NBATV interview.
He is standing in front of a green screen, getting peppered with questions for an NBA Countdown plug. The producer ends by asking for one of the funniest things he’s seen from fans online.
Thompson recalls what happened after Golden State rallied from 27 points down to beat Toronto last season. He said an Internet meme surfaced with a picture of him and Curry that read: “Down 27? Only takes nine shots.”
“Steph said the same thing,” the producer says.
Maybe there is something more to the “Splash Brothers” frenzy than strong shooting, huh?
— Twenty minutes later Thompson is escorted into a large room with music playing “This is Awesome” on a loud loop that repeats every 30 seconds. There are lights and cameras everywhere, the scene looking like something between a Hollywood set and a Las Vegas nightclub.
Artist will.i.am, wearing a T-shirt with “This is Awesome” all over it, hops out of a high chair to greet Thompson before they shoot an ABC spot.
“Big fan,” he says.
Thompson looks surprised.
“I drop 37 points in a quarter and all of the sudden you get a whole new following,” Thompson would say later, referring to his NBA-record third quarter against Sacramento last month.
— At 2:56 p.m., Thompson is finishing up what he thinks is his final interview on the second floor of the hotel. His uncle, Andy Thompson, a vice president for NBA Entertainment, is standing a few feet away smiling at his nephew’s exhaustion.
“He always wanted to be a star,” Andy says. “Be careful what you wish for.”
Just a few weeks earlier, the Thompson family wasn’t sure if Klay would make the All-Star team. Andy was so confident Klay would get a spot that he made his nephew promise to go to church with him Sunday morning before the All-Star game if he made it.
5:33 p.m. — Shoe Promotion
About 30 Chinese reporters and three Bay Area-based writers are in the Louis XVI room on the fourth floor of the luxurious Waldorf Astoria hotel for the unveiling of Thompson’s signature shoe with Anta, a Chinese shoe company.
There are bobbleheads of Thompson outside and half a dozen different colors of his “KT Fire” shoes with his No. 11 on them. Thompson and his agent, Bill Duffy, are introduced along with Anta executives in front of a banner that reads, “Team Priceless.”
The Anta presenter, speaking in English and Mandarin, says that Thompson’s Chinese nickname translates to God Thompson.
“As in, ‘Oh my God,'” he says.
1:01 p.m. Friday — Practice/Community Service
Following a jammed media session near Times Square, Thompson arrives at Central Park East II on 103rd St. in a black Chevy Suburban with dark tinted windows. Two uniformed police officers greet him outside the school and escort him to the fourth-floor gymnasium for an NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service event.
About 75 third- and fourth-graders wearing blue NBA Fit T-shirts are doing different drills at stations around the court. They’re told to stop and sit down for a “surprise visitor.”
Students scream and reach for high-fives as Thompson is introduced. Thompson goes station to station participating in drills with students, then fields questions.
One student asks, “Is it a lot of pressure to play in the NBA?”
Thompson thinks for a moment and responds: “It is a lot of pressure, but you have to remember basketball is something you’ve been doing your whole life and you’re prepared to handle it. Sometimes you’re more comfortable on the court than off of it.”
4:40 p.m. — Fashion Show
Thompson is getting out of his comfort zone now. He’s at the Hammerstein Ballroom for the NBA’s first-ever All-Star fashion show.
“Never in my life did I think I’d be in a fashion show,” Thompson said beforehand.
Thompson walks down the runway in a suave three-piece gray suit as Beyonce’s “7-11” blares over the speakers. LeBron James and comedian Kevin Hart are on both sides of Thompson sizing up his suit and cracking jokes. Cleveland’s J.R. Smith wins and is awarded a diamond bowtie.
There’s no time to soak in the loss, though. Thompson heads to an autograph signing at Modell’s Sporting Goods in Penn Plaza, then attends the celebrity game at the Garden.
7:05 p.m. Saturday — Practice/Shootout
The crowd is roaring. This is where Thompson wants to be — on the court, just him and the ball and a 10-foot hoop, everything riding on his fingertips.
He had done so much earlier in the day — Western Conference All-Star practice, team and family photo shoots and interviews with the media masses at the Garden before an appearance at the Samsung Galaxy Studio in SoHo — that he’d hardly had time to practice for the 3-point contest at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Thompson was on-point with his 3-point prediction: Curry won the competition with a final-round score of 27. Thompson (14) finished third, behind Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving (17 points).
8:41 p.m. Sunday — Game time
Finally, the stage is set.
It was the lightest day on Thompson’s schedule — just a Kia autograph signing at the NBA House and meet-and-greets with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, NBA Players Association executive director Michele Roberts and kids with the Make-A-Wish Foundation — and arguably the most uneventful.
Odd, considering the game is what the weekend’s supposed to be about, right?
The event turned out to be a tiny footnote on Thompson’s chaotic schedule. He had seven points, six assists and four rebounds in 19 minutes to help the West win 163-158 over the East. Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook won game MVP.
With the weekend over, Thompson was set to head back to the San Francisco Bay Area on a chartered plane Warriors owner Joe Lacob arranged for the franchise’s All-Star contingent and their families — still a little tired, yes.
But with no complaints.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP
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