NBA All-Star Weekend begins tomorrow in Salt Lake City with the All-Star Celebrity Game with a pretty strong lineup of Hollywood stars playing alongside the athletes – 21 Savage, Janelle Monae, Simu Liu, Hasan Minhaj, Guillermo from Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and Cordae have all been confirmed. 


The NBA has also confirmed the MC, the celebrity who will introduce the players and coaches. My reference point for this, because I grew up in the Michael Jordan era, is the Chicago Bulls introduction – which is a f-cking classic…

“Aaaaand nowwwww… the starting lineup for the World Champion Chicago Bulls!”

Mayhem and goosebumps every time. 



Come on. I don’t care where you’re from – you can still be loyal to your home team but you can also admit that no other team introduction is as hype as this one. 


Anyway, to go back to the Celebrity All-Star Game, they’ve found their “voice”, and it’s none other than … 

Ben Affleck. 

There’s obviously a business tie-in here. Ben’s film, AIR, about how Nike signed MJ and created the global cultural phenomenon we all now know as Air Jordans is opening in April. Even in the press release announcing Ben’s participation, the NBA namechecked the film:

“Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ben Affleck who produced, directed and stars in the upcoming film AIR, which will be exclusively in theaters globally April 5, will introduce the 2023 Ruffles NBA All-Star Celebrity Game players and coaches live at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN on Friday, Feb. 17 from the John M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.  Affleck will take the court prior to the start of the game.”


So he’s getting promotional support directly from the league. This, obviously, is part of the studio’s marketing plan behind the film, which isn’t surprising. Of course you want to take it to this audience, NBA audience, the sneakerhead audience. This is the most iconic sneaker in the history of sneakers. This is the sneaker upon which sneaker culture was built – and sneaker culture is massive. For Ben Affleck, then, it’s also a chance to ingratiate himself into this community. If he can pull it off, he scores major cool points. Can he pull it off though? 

Well the film has to be good, most importantly. But this NBA All-Star weekend appearance … is some pressure. There is no question that Ben’s practising his delivery. You can’t come at a gig like this casually. Introductions HAVE TO BE delivered with flair. You put something extra into it. You can’t pull back on the line reading. Nobody is looking for subtle here. Not when there are 20,000 people watching in the arena and millions more at home. Ben’s going to need to bring his full Batman growl into this one. But also he has to project. The microphone only helps so much – but you have to put the pipes into it too. 

And here come his DC faithful, because if he really does do it in the Batman voice, that fandom will be activated for AIR liftoff too. 

Or maybe we don’t need Batman here. Maybe he just goes full Boston, LOL. We just heard it in his Dunkin’ commercial for the Super Bowl. What do we prefer? Boston or Batman?