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Love For Basketball Draws Parents, Children To Uptown For All-Star Weekend

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Jessa O'Connor / WFAE
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For some, All-Star weekend is a chance to experience a celebrity sighting or buy merchandise representing their favorite NBA player. For others, it's all about the dunk contest or Sunday’s game. But for a few families, the weekend comes down to one simple thing: a love of the game that spans generations.

It was a blustery day Sunday at the Epicentre and 16-year-old Dorian Paige was shaking. But it was more from excitement than the cold.

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Credit Jessa O'Connor / WFAE
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Dorian Paige, right, and his father, Michael Paige.

“When I was laying down last night, it was a very weird feeling. It’s like — these guys are in the same city as me,” he said, smiling. “It’s so inspiring. It made me want to get up and do something.”

And he did. He woke up and asked his dad to bring him uptown. He was hoping to catch a glimpse of his basketball idol, New York Knicks player Dennis Smith, Jr.

“I started following him when he was my age,” Dorian said. “He was a kid and just to watch him grow… Yeah, it’d just be really cool to talk to him.”

Dorian is an aspiring pro-ball player. He currently plays for Mallard Creek High School but is hoping to follow in the footsteps of the very players he’s itching to meet — with the help of his dad, Michael Paige.

[Related Content: NBA Wives Host Events Empowering Women During All-Star Weekend]

“He started playing and loving the game from a very young age,” Michael said. “I’ve been his coach, his trainer, ever since he was about four years old.”

Like his son, Michael has a deep love of the game. He said both playing and watching the sport has brought the two together.

“It’s pretty cool to see your kids grow up and love the same thing you were interested in,” Michael said. ­­­­

Michael and Dorian weren’t able to get tickets for Sunday night’s game, but that didn’t stop them from enjoying their time together attending All-Star events in their home city.

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Credit Jessa O'Connor / WFAE
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Dama Conti, third from left, and her family came to Charlotte from Wake Forest for All-Star weekend.

Dama Conti and her husband brought their teenagers from Wake Forest for the game. Conti said she’s a long-time basketball fan.

“As a child, I would never have imagined that I would have ever been here in my wildest dreams,” Conti said. “Lots of All-Star weekends I’ve spent just watching it at home on the television.”

She said she’s grateful to be able to share the experience with her children — especially, her daughter Sydney.

“Basketball has just been something that I’ve followed since I was a little girl. And when I was a little girl, they didn’t have the WNBA. You know, girls could play in high school and in college,” she said. “So now, even just to see girls enjoying the game much longer is just really cool.”

Conti said seeing prominent women, like Dawn Staley who coached the celebrity game, inspires her and Sydney — and fuels their shared love of the game.