NBA All-Stars don't cluck at silly questions

NBA All-Stars don't cluck at silly questions
Clippers point guard Chris Paul, right, keeps the ball away from Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard during the Clippers' win Wednesday. Paul was subjected to some tough questioning during media availability for the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

NEW ORLEANS — The reporter made her way through the throng of media surrounding Chris Paul inside a hotel ballroom, thrusting her microphone close to the Clippers star so that she could pick up the answer to the question she just had to know:

Bojangles' or Popeyes?


"Bojangles'," Paul said. "No question. Not even close. They've got Popeyes here in New Orleans. Their biscuits are good, but Bojangles' over Popeyes."

The reporter wasn't done with the hard-hitting inquiries. She also wanted to know what music was on Paul's iPod (Jay-Z), what he listened to while he worked out (a lot of gospel music) and who was the last person he texted (his wife, wishing her happy Valentine's Day).

You might never guess the NBA All-Stars were here to play a basketball game, based on some of the questions the media lobbed their way.

The Clippers' Blake Griffin was asked about the biggest celebrity he had met in his life (Justin Bieber) and his pick for best picture ("The Wolf of Wall Street").

Amazingly, the players were almost universally good sports about the endless pop culture queries. They didn't even seem to mind when the international media stuck fuzzy microphones in their faces and asked them to give a shout-out to the viewers abroad.

"What's up, this is John Wall of the Washington Wizards," the first-time All-Star said obligingly. "I want to say happy Chinese New Year to all my fans in China."

Portland's Damian Lillard complied with requests to do quick-hit hellos to fans from Italy and Japan back to back without rolling his eyes.

Sometimes even the domestic media seemed lost in translation.

One reporter asked Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki if he had tried any gumbo while he was here, apparently forgetting that the Mavericks play in the same conference as the New Orleans Pelicans and usually travel here at least twice a season.

Another reporter made his way around the ballroom asking the same three questions: If you had a signature smoothie, what ingredients would you use and what would you call it? Is there another mascot besides the Pelicans' that needs a makeover? What sound does a Pelican make?

The answers won't be appearing on "60 Minutes," though Goran Dragic's Pelican sounds might make good fodder for Comedy Central.

"Brrr, brrr," the Phoenix point guard said good-naturedly in a high-pitched tone.

Orlando's Arron Afflalo wouldn't subject himself to making silly sounds, but he seemed to dig the smoothie question.

"It would definitely be a strawberry banana smoothie, for sure," Afflalo said of his preferred concoction. "Those are the two ingredients right there. [Plus] yogurt, orange juice and ice. I wouldn't have a name for it."


Then how would he go about selling it?

"I don't know," Afflalo said. "[Call it] strawberry banana. That's pretty enticing."

A lot more enticing than some of these questions.