NBA All Star Weekend 2020 festivities in Chicago get underway

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The NBA All Star Game is in Chicago this weekend and festivities are already underway.

Navy Pier will be transformed into a fan destination starting Friday and through the weekend and many basketball superstars are already in town.

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Chicago Public School students students lived out their hoop dreams as they participated in the fifth annual NBA Day at Navy Pier.

"I am playing basketball with real basketball players," said Lorenzo Donerson, student.

"Happy, nervous, scared," said student Destiny Johnson.

"Well, my strategy is to get loosened up and just work on my skill set," said Christian Sally, student.

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Local artist Louis De Guzman has partnered up with New Era to design hats for the Bulls, his favorite team.

The students went through drills with current and former NBA and WNBA players, some of whom will be hitting the court Sunday in the All-Star Game.

"It has been fun," said Adam Rodriguez, student. "I got three signatures from two basketball players.

"I think it's a once in a lifetime event for our kids," said teacher Zach Korth.

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Navy Pier is playing host to the NBA Crossover Experience and there are areas set up for fans to interact with sponsors and of course there will be celebrity sightings.

"We'll have NBA All-Stars here throughout the weekend," said Joey Graziano, NBA vice president for global events. "Brandon Ingram, we'll have Jason Tatum, We'll have Trae Young, we're gonna have Bulls players Wendell Carter Junior, Coby White, Lauri Markkannen will stop by. We'll also of course have our NBA legends so you're gonna want to see Dwyane Wade, Gary Payton, Robert Horry, Chicago's own Ron Harper."

Big performers like Fat Joe and DJ Khaled will hit the stage in the Aon Ballroom Friday night, along with local Chicago performers another big names throughout the weekend.

Some Chicago basketball fans couldn't wait.

"Well it's the first time since 1988 since it was here and the first time in my lifetime so I just decided to attend every single event that I can this weekend," said fan Nick Davis.

Late Thursday night Shaquille O'Neal appeared at a Rainbow PUSH Coalition event with Reverend Jesse Jackson and Mayor Lori Lightfoot. They kicked things off with a "Welcome to Chicago" theme.

"I am grateful for all of you who are here," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. "Enjoy our great and beautiful city. All of the gifts and the assets that are at our disposal. We love you. We embrace you. Welcome to Chicago."
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