HOUSTON — Houston, highlighted last year on MTV's "My Block" series, turned into something of a block party this holiday weekend, with the NBA All-Star Game descending on the City of Syrup and stars coming out in full force to celebrate.
Thursday night was the official tip-off for All-Star weekend, and who better to lead the charge than Earvin "Magic" Johnson? Magic, Alonzo Mourning and Queen Latifah hosted "Zo & Magic's 8-Ball Challenge," a charity fundraiser that raked in more than $200,000 for Johnson and Mourning's foundations. It was virtually impossible not to see a star athlete or music A-lister everywhere you turned at Jillian's. DJ Irie, who makes mixtapes and spins at the Miami Heat home games, was spinning records and shouting out people in the building like Michael Jordan — when Queen Latifah wasn't on the mic conducting her MC duties.
In the main room — which had several bowling alleys — Magic, Bow Wow, Lil' Flip, Chamillionaire and Nick Cannon took pictures with fans and other celebrities. In the pool room, the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, Fabolous, actress Nia Long, Dwayne Wade and Fat Joe all had sticks in their hands at some point while playing, but it was Ludacris and his manager Chaka Zulu who stood the tallest. Literally. Luda jumped on top of one of the pool tables in triumph after advancing to the semifinals, where he would take on Zo Mourning's team. But Luda and Zulu ultimately lost out in the finals to Atlanta sports-talk-radio personalities "The Two Live Stews," Ryan and Doug Stewart.
|Photos From NBA All-Star Weekend 2006 Parties
The Snowman was a performing beast during NBA All-Star weekend. Besides the Luda party, he also jumped onstage during a Def Jam shindig at Next on Friday, where LeBron James stood on the dance floor, Funkmaster Flex DJ'd, Ray J chilled, David Banner hung in the VIP room and DJ Clue and Russell Simmons strolled through. Jeezy and T.I. both performed at DJ Drama's Gangsta Grillz party at Max's on Sunday.
T.I., Chris Brown, and Luda and Jamie Foxx performed at various intervals during the NBA gala at the George R. Brown Convention Center. But the main place to get in was the Crown Royal lounge room, where two most famous number 23s, Michael Jordan and LeBron James, chilled along with Charles Barkley.
Those who didn't mind traveling 45 minutes out of Houston to Hush (and had a VIP pass) partied with Nelly almost every night. He had the club locked down Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and Jamie Foxx, Trina, Young Jeezy and T.I. all rolled through at various points during the weekend.
One of the rowdiest parties went down Saturday night, when Sony Music held a showcase for the artists in its rap division. For one of the first times in years, Project Pat was onstage with his family Three 6 Mafia, hitting a jammed-pack Max's with their catalog classics like "Stay Fly" and Pat's "Chicken Heads." Lil' Flip, who also performed, said he was especially geeked to be at the show because it was the first time he rocked a concert with DMX. X was classic X, sweating like he'd actually played in the NBA All-Star Game while rapping songs like "Get at Me Dog" and his new "We in Here." Before his finale, he told the audience he's running with Sony Music and yelled emphatically, "F--- Def Jam," leaving no question as to how he feels about his former label.
But the most anticipated party on All-Star weekend ended anti climatically. UGK were supposed to perform together for the first time in years at the Barrio, but they never got a chance to get onstage. Around 3 a.m., one of their opening acts, Chopper (formerly of No Limit Records), was rapping when one of several men standing onstage got into a verbal confrontation with a man in the crowd. The man in the crowd threw water, and Chopper and company instantly jumped into the crowd like a tag team of Mexican luchadores. A six-minute brawl ensued, with fists and chairs flying; a few minutes later, everyone was told to exit out the front.
If you didn't have any VIP juice or didn't want to pay up to $250 to get into parties, you still had a chance to see several celebrities at various locations throughout the weekend. The Galleria mall was a hot spot where cats like Beanie Sigel, Freeway, Clyde "The Glide" Drexler, Terrell Owens and Warren Sapp could be spotted shopping, walking among fans and signing autographs.
At the airport, leaving Houston, celebrities even had a chance to meet their own favorite celebrities. While waiting to get on a flight back to New Jersey, Jadakiss shook hands with Houston Rockets coach Patrick Ewing. Ewing, a former Knick, was equally happy to see Kiss. "I need that new album Jada," Ewing told Kiss. "I'm working on it," Jada replied.
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.