On Thursday night in Manhattan, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony got a preview of their bout at Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden: The two basketball greats were hosting competing dinners within walking distance of each other in the Meatpacking District.
In his corner, Anthony, the player with the home court advantage, had wife La La, Los Angeles Laker Nick Young, Gayle King and DJ Cassidy. They were at the Italian restaurant Santina for a dinner with Ermenegildo Zegna, one of several promotional events ahead of the big game for the New York Knick.
“But there’s nothing wrong with that,” Anthony said.
After a bruising season that finds his team entering the All-Star break with the NBA’s worst record, Anthony, who was nursing a knee injury that is expected to derail the rest of his regular season, was actually looking forward to a little friendly exhibition game, even if it’s for a short time. It’s in his own backyard, after all.
“To be here in New York, my hometown, and to play at Madison Square Garden, it couldn’t be a better time,” he said.
Meanwhile, Westbrook was holding court at Backbar with fiancée Nina Earl, Marcus Wainwright and David Neville of Rag & Bone, Scott Studenberg and John Targon of Baja East, Simon Spurr and Rachel Roy for a dinner cohosted by WWD and Samsung.
They were all there because in the past few seasons — fashionwise, not NBA — the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard has become one of the athletes most associated with the industry, a front-row fixture who has also lined up collaborations with Barneys New York and True Religion. The designers don’t even necessarily follow his sport.
“John and I were courtside at a game [last year],” Studenberg said. Who was playing? “The gay one. Who’s the gay one? What team is that?” “The Nets?” Targon said uncertainly. Yes, it was with the Brooklyn Nets that the openly gay Jason Collins played for, though he has since retired from the league.
In any case, what conference were they rooting for at the All-Star Game? “It’s East Coast versus West Coast? East Coast. Is Russell East Coast?” Targon asked. Nope. OK, then — how about sticking to a subject they do know something about, Westbrook’s style: “He looks really cool. He has great personal style because he takes risks and has the confidence to pull it off. Bam!” Studenberg said.
Westbrook, for his part, is keeping a low profile this fashion week — just two shows. He knows where his bread is buttered.
“It’s kind of the last thing on my list,” he said, referring to his fashion week appearances. “You’ve only got so much time in the day. I try to take care of the things that are most important to me.” After the All-Star Game, he won’t be partying with the Public School boys and Prabal Gurung at their joint party. “I’m going back to Oklahoma City and getting ready for work,” he said.
What did he make of his adversary from the Eastern Conference throwing a dinner a few blocks away?
“It’s fun to see other players, especially friends like Carmelo, be able to venture off and go into fashion,” he said charitably. Point, Westbrook.