Three hours before the in-between, it was the commotion in the bays of the Accor Arena, to determine where this or that personality would sit. Impossible, however, to know from the members of the security or the communication which would be the stars who would go to the edge of the parquet floor, to attend the meeting between the Bulls and the Pistons.
So we had to wait, or sometimes use ingenuity and use our knowledge, to discover the first names. And, an hour and a half before the start of the match, the first celebrities appeared, along with some fans.
” Look, there is Yannick Noah’s son! “, could be heard shouting, at the moment when Joakim Noah has penetrated into courtyard with his wife, Brazilian model Lais Ribeiro. Welcoming in passing Keith Bogans, his former teammate in Chicago, as well as Rashard Lewis, now in the coaching-staff of Detroit.
But the extravagant “Jooks”, whose arrival seemed obvious given his past with the Bulls and his various appearances in the capital this week, was of course not the only personality to be in the game for this “NBA Paris Game 2023”.
On the “red carpet” of the evening, a sort of improvised parade was effectively organized in front of the NBA photographers, as if we were in Cannes on a Festival evening.
To stay in French basketball, Tony Parker, Ronny Turiaf, Mickael Pietrus or Kevin Seraphin followed one another among men, while Marine Johannes and Gabby Williams represented women. The opportunity to mark the reunion between these teammates and teammates of yesterday or today.
But “the other” attraction of the evening was obviously the presence of Victor Wembanyamacame with the family and acclaimed when he arrived in the room, then when he appeared on the giant screen of the Accor Arena.
“Wemby”, whom some already imagine returning to France in a year, for the next “NBA Paris Game”, has also taken the opportunity to meet a legend (and what a legend): Magic Johnson himself ! Surprise guest of the evening, he competed with the (probable) future number one of the 2023 Draft in the applause meter, when he was honored in the middle of the floor during the match, more than thirty years after having played on it .
Afterwards, the former leader of the show time also allowed to tweet that he had the chance to meet and chat with the best player in the world “, speaking of Victor Wembanyama. Just that !
But, like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 2020, Magic Johnson was not the only basketball player to be entitled to a tribute ceremony, because Ben Wallace and Richard “Rip” Hamilton, legends of the Pistons, received this honor at the same time as him. Same for the frenchies Tony Parker, Joakim Noah, Ronny Turiaf, Mickaël Piétrus and Kevin Séraphin.
Former Bulls center Bill Wennington had also made the trip to the capital, while on the WNBA side, Kahleah Copper (Chicago Sky), Napheesa Necklace (Minnesota Lynx) and James Wade (Chicago Sky coach) were well placed in the stands.
French sport in the spotlight
Obviously, the universe of the orange ball was just as represented as that of sport in general, and more particularly that of French sport (even Monegasque). of the fighter Ciryl Gane to the footballer Aurelien Tchouameni (subsequently entangled in a controversy…), via judoka Teddy Rinerthe pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie or the decathlete Kevin Mayerso many of them were tempted by a visit to the AccorArena.
Not to mention the pilots Pierre Gasly, Charles Leclerc and Esteban Oconwhich we had already seen in the afternoon at the NBA House of the Invalides, the time of a confrontation with Tony Parker and Joakim Noah for the duo Gasly / Leclerc.
Still in the world of sport, note the presence of footballers Gerard Pique and Marco Veratti., The Italian was also the only PSG player to attend this “NBA Paris Game”, a trip to Saudi Arabia requires. Unlike 2020, where the Parisian team came in large numbers (Kylian Mbappé, Neymar, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, etc.) to see the Bucks and the Hornets.
A Fashion Week bis
On the showbiz side now, impossible to miss the rapper Lil Babyhooded and all dressed in green, as well as the artist Pharrell Williams, seated with Magic Johnson. Other American rappers, like Tygaor French, as Gasoline, laylow, SDM Where Frenchalso did not fail to drive the public crazy, who only asked to take their picture with them (or even the famous mascot, “Benny the Bull”).
As for Zola, another French rapper, incidentally injured and… on crutches, it was he who was responsible for providing the show at halftime of the match. Without succeeding, however, in igniting the approximately 15,885 spectators in the hall. ” They would have done better to bring back the Harlem Globetrotters “Regreted outright a father, located not far from the press table.
Still on the list of showbiz personalities, the French YouTuber Mister V was also in high demand, as was the Italian TikTokeur Khaby Blade. But both of them couldn’t quite compete with the singer’s popularity Aya Nakamurasitting in courtyard.
A very beautiful and impressive line-up of celebrities, to which we could add comedians Fary Where Thomas Ngijol, and which obviously could be assembled thanks to the launch, this week, of Fashion Week in the capital. It is no coincidence that the models Karlie Kloss and Thylane Blondeau were also part of the NBA’s guest list, decidedly unparalleled when it comes to gathering so many stars in one place and making it a special event.
Photos: NBA/Getty; Thomas Savoja / Basketball USA