The three point contest. The Dunk Contest. The Celebrity All-star game.
Those are a few of the more high profile events at the NBA’s annual All-Star weekend which lead up to the All-Star game itself on Sunday, all of which get plenty of television coverage, and attract the biggest names in pop-culture.
But there is another annual, NBA All Star event that’s been going on for the better part of two decades, which gets far less fanfare. While it may not get its share of tv highlights, it does typically bring something different to its stage every year, which is more than can be said for the dunk contest on a year to year basis.
It’s the NBA Technology Summit, and this year will mark the 20th year the NBA has been hosting the event. According to ESPN’s website, The event will brings together a unique, invitation-only group to explore the trends and innovations in sports, media and technology.
The 2019 annual summit attracts companies like Google, Snap and Twitter along with league executives and players. officially kicked off with a reception at the Ritz Carlton on Thursday evening, but the real fun started on Friday. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver gave his opening remarks, and the rest of the day consisted of several panel discussions, headlined by a “one-on-one” with former NBA legend and Hall of Famer, and Chairman of the Charlotte Hornets.
The star of the show this year was the unveiling of a concept jersey, in which the name and number on the jersey could be changed using an app on a smartphone. Silver did a live demonstration on stage, changing a a generic Steph Curry, number 30 jersey to a Jordan jersey featuring the number 23, in literally a matter of seconds. Silver also talked at length about other future NBA tech, including the possibility of fans using facial recognition for tickets and smart glasses to have a more customizable experience at NBA stadiums.
While the tech in jersey provided the seminar some flash, the meat of the conference was held in two separate panel forums; the first moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, on how Disruptive technologies are creating unprecedented challenges and opportunities for today’s leaders. The panel, made up of presidents and CEOs of tech companies who also happen to own NBA teams, discussed how advances such as augmented reality and voice technology, will transform the way leaders approach innovation in a constantly evolving media landscape.
The other resonant panel followed, moderated by Ernie Johnson, TNT’s NBA pregame/ halftime/ studio host. The panel discussed today’s professional athletes, living life in the public eye more than ever before, by choice and by necessity. They face more off-the-court pressures and pitfalls than ever before as a result, and the panel explored how players manage intense traditional and social media scrutiny while building their brands and focusing on their personal and professional growth.