The NBA’s All-Star Game is coming to Toronto for the first time ever this weekend, but it’s completely sold out and tickets are listed for upwards of $700 on StubHub. Even some of the lesser All-Star events, like the Rising Stars game, where Andrew Wiggins will play in front of a hometown crowd, are completely booked. There are afterparties, of course, but they’re impossible to get into. Is there any way the average Torontonian can participate in this rare celebration of all things ball? Here are a few suggestions.
Prove that you should be in the NBA
NBA Fan Combine, Enercare Centre
For anyone who feels like their stint as their high school’s second-string point guard should have been the start of something bigger, here’s a chance to go through an NBA combine. The league will be running drills all weekend as part of its NBA Center Court celebrations, for which it has installed more than 40 temporary courts at the Enercare Centre. Everyone will have plenty of time to embarrass themselves. Friday, February 12 to Sunday, February 14. $15–$30. Enercare Centre, 100 Princes’ Blvd., ticketmaster.com.
Have some Shaq-endorsed laughs
Shaq’s All-Star Comedy Jam, Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
We’re not quite sure what makes Shaquille O’Neal an expert on comedy, other than his hilarious career free-throw percentage, but Shaq’s All-Star Comedy Jam is solid. It’s headlined by comedy legend—and Shaq’s cousin—Bill Bellamy, and the performers include Last Comic Standing contestant LaVar Walker and former BET Comic View regular Michael Blackson. Friday, February 12. $65–150. Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, 1 Front St. E., sonycentre.ca.
Go to a fancy All-Star club event for free
Viber’s All-Star Party, La Vie Complex
All-Star weekend is basically one big party, and every club in the city will be throwing some sort of celebrity-endorsed bash. For those of us who don’t feel like spending an almost ludicrous amount of money on a cover charge, Viber is throwing an All-Star jam for users of its messaging app. The first 450 people with Viber on their phones get in for free. It may be worth installing the software, at least for the night: the music is coming courtesy of Metro Boomin, a superstar hip-hop producer, and DJ Esco, Future’s tour DJ. Friday, February 12. FREE for attendees with Viber on their phones. La Vie Complex, 224 Richmond St. W., yesjulz.com.
Watch the stars (or, more likely, the NBA journeymen) of tomorrow
NBA D-League All-Star Game, Ricoh Coliseum
The NBA Development League has its own All-Star event at Ricoh Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. The players will include former NCAA stars like Jimmer Fredette and Rakeem Christmas, as well as the Raptors 905’s breakout star, power forward Ronald Roberts. Saturday, February 13. Ricoh Coliseum, 45 Manitoba Dr., dleague.nba.com.
Watch the stars of yesterday
NBA Cares Special Olympics Game, Enercare Centre
The NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Sports Basketball Game is an unwieldy mouthful to say, but the roster includes retired NBA and WNBA stars, who will be teaming up with Special Olympians. Saturday, February 13. $15–$30. Enercare Centre, 100 Princes’ Blvd., cares.nba.com.
Check out some OUA ball
Ontario University Athletics Showcase, Enercare Centre
There’s almost no chance that anyone currently playing in the Ontario University Athletics league will make it to the NBA, but: it’s still entertaining basketball, some of them will definitely play pro in Europe, and they’re still better than you, so don’t make fun. The All-Star Weekend OUA bill is actually a doubleheader: first, the current Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s champs, the Windsor Lancers, will take on Queen’s. The following day, the Ryerson Rams will play the U of T Varsity Blues in a battle for Torontonian supremacy. Saturday, February 13 and Sunday, February 14. $15–$30. Enercare Centre, 100 Princes’ Blvd., oua.ca.
Get to know the next generation of NBA stars
Jordan Brand Invitational, Mattamy Athletic Centre
The Jordan Brand Invitational will pit two of Canada’s top basketball high schools, Orangeville Prep and Father Henry Carr, against two American schools, Oak Hill Academy and Redondo Union. In case anyone thinks it’s ridiculous to get this worked up about high school ball, it’s worth noting that this game will feature projected 2017 lottery pick Harry Giles, as well as a slew of guys who will be playing D-1 ball next year. Thursday, February 11. FREE with pre-booked ticket. Mattamy Athletic Centre, 50 Carlton St., nike.com
Shop for rare Jordans
The Ultimate Sneaker Show, 99 Sudbury St.
Unsurprisingly, All-Star Weekend is a big time of year for sneakerheads. Athletic footwear enthusiasts from across the country will be converging on Toronto for the All-Star edition of the Ultimate Sneaker Show. Anyone who missed their chance to pick up some Grape Jordan Vs can probably get them here. Saturday, February 13. $26–$42. 99 Sudbury St., theultimatesneakershow.com.
Attend a live read of one of the finest basketball movies ever made
Space Jam Live Read, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Have you always wanted to hear the mid-’90s animated classic Space Jam read live, by a mystery cast of maybe-celebrities? No? Is your interest piqued, though? Well, you’re in for a treat. Saturday, February 13. $13. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., tiff.net.