Fans all over the world travel to games and events just to see NBA players in person. They show up early hoping to meet them and lean over barriers attempting to snap a photo. While these athletes are viewed as celebrities, they can be starstruck, too.
These NBA players recounted to Basketball Insiders when they were recognized by celebrities outside of basketball and had ‘I really made it’ moments.
LaMarcus Aldridge: “I live in Newport Beach in the offseason. A couple summers ago I was at a resort where a lot of people come through. I was in there working out and Mark Wahlberg’s kids were at the pool. I turned around and he was right here, he was in my face. I had just watched ‘Shooter’ the night before. He came up to me and his kid wanted to meet me, so that was kind of big time. I’ve had people recognize me before because I’ll be in L.A. I think that was one of the ones where I was like, ‘Wow.’”
Caron Butler: “I got traded to the Lakers, it was my third year in the NBA. I’ll never forget — Halle Berry was sitting courtside. I had just come off ‘The Jay Leno Show’ where I had told my story for the first time to the public. I guess she saw it and the following day we played the Rockets on TNT and they interviewed her. … She recognized me and said, ‘My favorite guy on the team is Caron Butler.’ I was just like, ‘Did she just really say that?’ That was a big moment for me. I was happy. I grew up watching this great actress perform, and she’s a beautiful lady. For her to say that, I was like, ‘Yes.’”
Evan Turner: “Ohio State has an auxiliary gym and a main gym. Drake was supposed to be performing there. I just so happened to declare (in April 2010) and was in the auxiliary gym. This was early afternoon, so when I went downstairs, Drake’s doing soundcheck and I saw him on stage. This was before he blew up-blew up. I walked out there and was like, ‘Drake!’ He looked at me like, ‘Who is that?’ Then he stopped and said, ‘Come here.’ I’m like, ‘What’s up, I’m E.T.’ He said, ‘I know who you are. Are you coming to the show tonight?’ I walked into the building (for the concert) and he had a lyric that said, ‘I see all this money through my Ohio State Buckeyes’ and then he just started saying, ‘E-T-E-T.’ Then he’s looking for me, ‘E.T, where you at?’ I’m like, no that’s good enough. Security comes and gets me and he brings me on stage and he’s like, ‘This man declared for the NBA, he’s living out his dream. I’m proud of you.’ He’s saluting me, the whole place is going crazy. He said, ‘Come to the after party; it’s your after party.’ That was definitely a special time for me. He was a really, really, really cool guy. A really humble guy.”
Ish Smith: “I was in Orlando and we were playing Miami in Miami, my second year. Dwight Howard walked over and said what’s up to Floyd Mayweather and shook his hand. Mayweather pointed and was like, ‘What’s up Ish?’ I was like, ‘Oh. What’s going on man?’ In my head it kind of let me know, okay, he’s seen me play before. I think I was just shocked, I tried to play it cool. After to myself I was thinking, ‘How the hell does he know who I am?’”
Andrei Kirilenko: “I would say Anthony Kiedis (lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers). He’s A.K. too. I met him in St. Barth’s one year. He’s a great guy, very into basketball. He’s a Lakers fan obviously. I guess Utah played so much against the Lakers and he was following them (Kirilenko played 10 seasons for the Jazz). We had been in the same place at the same time and we got introduced. He was very good, a very nice guy. Of course (I knew who he was). I was like ‘Wow.’ It was cool.”
Lavoy Allen: “It was my second year in the NBA, I’m out at a nightclub and I see Will Smith. He comes over to me, gives me a handshake, daps me up and gives me the little half hug. He was a partial owner, small percentage owner, of the 76ers. Being from Philly, I grew up on ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.’ Will Smith, that’s my guy.”
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