NBA talks about the role of AI at annual All-Star weekend tech summit


INDIANAPOLIS — The NBA has used artificial intelligence for some time. It helps the league generate highlights in real time, gives referees assistance when determining if goaltending occurred, translates play-by-play into multiple languages and even powers the league’s official app.

And more is undoubtedly on the way.

The league unveiled NB-AI, technology that the league says will “personalize the live game viewing experience,” at the annual All-Star tech summit Friday. Commissioner Adam Silver kicked off the event by showing some examples of how it will work and brought out San Antonio rookie and No. 1 overall draft pick Victor Wembanyama to assist.

Among the highlights: taking actual NBA game clips and making them seem like a Spider-Man movie.

“Today, AI is creating a similar excitement to what we saw around the early days of the internet,” Silver said. “Intuitively, most of us have a sense that artificial intelligence is going to change our lives. The question, at least for me, is ‘how?’”

Wembanyama got a sneak preview of the newest technology at a rehearsal on Thursday for the tech summit.

“It’s incredible,” Wembanyama said. “It’s still in the early days. Only the future will say what it will look like.”

Mac McClung’s life changed dramatically last year when he won the dunk contest on All-Star Saturday Night.

And now he’s trying to do it again.

McClung, who plays for the G League’s Osceola Magic, is trying to join Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson, Nate Robinson and Zach LaVine as the only back-to-back dunk contest champions. He’ll go up against Boston’s Jaylen Brown, Miami’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. and New York’s Jacob Toppin on Saturday night.

“I think I’m more nervous this time, I think it adds a little pressure,” McClung said. “But I’m just reminding myself to have fun with it. We’ve worked really hard so hopefully it all comes to fruition.”

McClung didn’t drop many hints what he had planned for the 35,000 fans expected to attend Saturday night’s feature attraction at Lucas Oil Stadium — other than suggesting to pay attention to the replays.

How has his life changed?

“It’s a little different going to airports now and going (out) to eat, but mostly it’s all good things,” McClung said.

Brown is the first All-Star in the dunk contest since 2018.

“The last couple of dunk contests, there hasn’t been an All-Star or one of the top players in the league to do it,” San Antonio forward Jeremy Sochan said. “I think him doing it maybe will spark having All-Stars and the best players in the league come back and start doing the dunk contest.”

Jaquez said his decision-making process on entering the contest was simple: The NBA called and asked, and he said yes.

“It was that easy,” Jaquez said.

Oklahoma City forward Chet Holmgren missed every game last season. He hasn’t missed any this season, and was making his All-Star weekend debut in the Rising Stars event on Friday.

“It’s a blessing to be here,” Holmgren said. “I’m completely grateful. I don’t take any of it for granted, especially knowing it can be taken away at any time.”

Most of the 28 players suiting up for Friday’s Rising Stars games are All-Star weekend rookies. Three — Indiana Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin, Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray and Utah Jazz center Walker Kessler — are in Indy for encore performances after earning first-team all-rookie honors last season.

Yet the most experienced player in the games is 20-year-old Scoot Henderson. The Portland Trail Blazers rookie played each of the past two seasons while playing for the G League Elite, and he could return next year for an unprecedented fourth appearance.

“The first two years, we didn’t have to come here,” he said. “They were huge opportunities for the G League and Elite, especially. So, I appreciate the opportunity. … I think my mindset coming into it is to come out there and hoop and just be myself.”

If Caitlin Clark — now the NCAA all-time Division I women’s scoring leader — enters the WNBA draft this year, she’s likely headed to Indianapolis. The Indiana Fever have the No. 1 overall pick and could pair Clark with reigning rookie of the year Aliyah Boston.

Pacers wing Bennedict Mathurin wants to see it happen.

“That would be an amazing thing,” Mathurin said when asked about Clark coming to Indy. “She’s a great player. She’s unbelievable. It would be amazing for her to come to Indy.”

All-Star weekend isn’t just for players. Some referees get invited to be part of the events as well.

The NBA has picked Tony Brothers, Josh Tiven and Derrick Collins as the officiating crew for Sunday’s All-Star Game. Odds are, they won’t have to do much besides indicate 3-pointers — last year’s All-Star Game had a total of seven fouls called and four free throws awarded. Donovan Mitchell went 2 for 2; Jayson Tatum went 1 for 2.

Also selected to handle the Rising Stars games and All-Star Saturday Night — John Butler, Brett Nansel and Jenna Schroeder.

San Antonio rookie and No. 1 draft pick Victor Wembanyama, speaking Friday on his progression and development: “I’ve been told never to skip steps my whole life, but that didn’t stop me from running up the stairs.”


Associated Press writer Mark Ambrogi contributed to this report.




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