While the crowd enjoyed the amazing moves and dunks of the 24 players on the high school level, perhaps the most important moment came when Stephen A. Smith spoke at a panel at the Sports Club/LA in Manhattan the day before.
Anderson spoke of some of his time in high school, college, and the NBA. Billups discussed the ups and downs of the NBA, including being part of a trade early in his career. And Houston spoke with great depth about making sure you leave the game with your character intact.
But it was Stephen A. Smith who delivered a sobering thought -- not everyone here will be a glorified NBA star. He spoke about his own pain from his childhood.
"When I was in the third grade, I got left back because I wasn't at the right reading level," said Smith, who was born in 1967 in Hollis, Queens. "I worked hard all summer to get back to that level.
"It happened again when I was in the fourth grade I got left back...I remember the shame on my father's face...I won't forget who laughed at me or what they said to me and how they said it..." Smith was terrific in making his points with these very talented individuals. "When you drop the ball, we'll be there (referring to the media)...when you're not playing hard, we'll be there...it's our job..."
Smith has achieved quite a bit of success, first as a reporter in Philadelphia and then hosting his own TV show. He is now seen on ESPN quite a bit, giving his opinions on the happenings around the NBA. He was forceful but compassionate at the same time for the all stars that were sitting down in front of him.
As he closed his speech, Smith wished everyone best of luck and success. But his point was clear -- education is important and make sure you bust your butt every day...because he's paid to do his job right too.