The last time Chicago hosted the star-studded NBA All-Star Game was 1988. Michael Jordan was still playing, the Bulls had yet to accomplish a three-peat, and games were held at the old Chicago Stadium. So to call its return a big deal is no exaggeration.
This time around also comes at a somber time with special dedications to the late Kobe Bryant. If you don’t have tickets to the game (or even if you do) here are 10 events to check out as NBA fever takes over Chicago this weekend.
Feb. 14: ESPN’s “Golic & Wingo” Live Broadcast
Early risers can head to Harry Caray’s Tavern at Navy Pier for this kickoff to the weekend festivities as ESPN’s popular morning show broadcasts live starting at 5 a.m. Special unannounced guests are scheduled to appear, and fans will get the chance to be on TV and score some free goods just in time for the big game. Breakfast will also be available for purchase and there is a special parking rate of $10. Doors open at 4 a.m. and the event is free to attend, space permitting. 700 E. Grand Ave.; www.harrycarays.com
Feb. 14-16: NBA Crossover
Keep court at Navy Pier all weekend for the ultimate fan experience. Part sports convention, part entertainment-palooza, the massive event will offer live music and promises appearances by celebs (including NBA legends like Gary Payton and Muggsy Bogues, who are confirmed to attend) along with exclusive product launches from major brands. (Past performers have included Janelle Monae and Meek Mill, though the acts for 2020 have yet to be announced.) Opens at 2 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. $20-$35 for single-day admission, $55 for a three-day pass. 600 E. Grand Ave.; www.navypier.org
Feb. 13-16: PRYSM Nightclub Concerts
Real ballers are likely to head to this Lincoln Park club for a special series of dance, hip-hop and rap sets, so don’t be surprised to rub some familiar elbows. The entertainment kicks off with chart-topper Da Baby (Feb. 13) and continues with impresario Rick Ross (Feb. 14), producer/DJ RL Grime (Feb. 15) and over-the-top personality 2 Chainz (Feb. 16). Doors open at 10 p.m. each night. Cover charges vary. 1543 N. Kingsbury; www.prysmnightclub.com
Feb. 14-15: Team Coco House
Conan O’Brien brings a solid starting lineup of talent to a pop-up comedy club at Bottom Lounge in celebration of All-Star weekend. Chicagoan Craig Robinson & The Nasty Delicious will headline Friday night while Roy Wood Jr., Nicole Byer, Jermaine Fowler and more take over funny duties Saturday night. The special event also includes The Real Deal Pop-A-Shot Tournament and NBA Skills Challenge Watch Party during the day Saturday. Kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday. Tickets start at $10. 1375 W. Lake St., www.teamcoco.com
Feb. 14: All-Star Celebrity Game
The warmup to the All-Star Game features a draft of stars bringing their A-game for this celebrity matchup at Wintrust Arena. This year’s event includes Chicagoans Common and Chance the Rapper as team captains with ESPN commentators Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon as team coaches, assisted by chef Guy Fieri and actor Jesse Williams (“Grey’s Anatomy), respectively. Other participants include Hannibal Buress, Bad Bunny, Kane Brown, Quavo, Taylor Bennett and WNBA stars. 7 p.m. Sold out (also broadcast on ESPN). 200 E. Cermak Rd., www.nbaevents.com
Feb. 15: Mountain Dew 3-Point Challenge
This competition at United Center features a number of hot-shot players including the Chicago Bulls’ Zach LaVine, plus the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young, the Miami Heat’s Duncan Robinson, the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard, and more. The two-round, timed shooting competition has five traditional shooting locations and two new shot zones this year; players have up to 70 seconds and 27 basketballs to make shots from various spots on the 3-point line. The best scorer joins the winner’s circle previously entered into by Larry Bird, Steve Kerr and Stephen Curry. 8 p.m. (also broadcast on TNT). 1901 W. Madison St., www.nbaevents.com
Feb. 15: Shaq’s Bass All-Stars
Though retired from basketball, Shaquille O’Neal isn’t content to sit on the sidelines during NBA All-Star weekend. He dons his alter ego, DJ Diesel, for this special music event at Concord Music Hall, bringing along with him Waka Flocka Flame, Saymyname and Dee Mash. If you caught him at Perry’s Stage at Lollapalooza last summer, you know how much of a giant Shaq is on a concert stage, too. 8 p.m. $39.99-49.99. 2051 N. Milwaukee Ave., www.concordmusichall.com
Feb. 16: Chance the Rapper Halftime Show
After competing against each other in the All-Star Celebrity Game, Chicago natives Chance the Rapper and Common join forces during the main game at United Center. Common will introduce the players before the tipoff while Chance will headline the halftime show with his bag of hits, including those from his latest album, “The Big Day,” released last year. Game day begins at 7 p.m. Broadcast on TNT (tickets available only from secondary brokers). 1901 W. Madison St., www.nbaevents.com
Feb. 16: All-Star Sneaker Summit
Get your kicks at Emporium Wicker Park during the eighth annual event that celebrates basketball and sneaker culture. Participants can buy, sell and trade rare and collectible footwear, clothing and accessories with like-minded fanatics and play pinball and pop-a-shot during downtime. There also will be a watch party as the All-Star Game gets under way. Starts at 2 p.m. $20-125. 1366 N. Milwaukee Ave., www.eventbrite.com
Feb. 16: Lavish Life All-Star All Black Yacht Party
The annual All–Star event takes to the water in Chicago this year on the Anita Dee II Yacht, departing from DuSable Harbor. The climate-controlled vessel offers a multi-level event with hip-hop and R&B spun by Chicago’s own DJ Sean Mac and DJ Dre Smoove, plus light appetizers and a cash bar during the three-hour voyage. Boarding begins at 2:30 p.m. Tickets start at $75. 200 N. Breakwater Access, www.eventbrite.com
Selena Fragassi is a local freelance writer.