A Day In The Life: Elena Delle Donne
The basketball world has converged this weekend in New York City for the NBA All-Star Game and the multitude of festivities that surround it. Among the stars taking the Big Apple by storm -- aside from some dudes named LeBron, Carmelo and Blake -- is WNBA standout Elena Delle Donne.
The Chicago Sky star arrived in New York on Thursday for a full slate of commitments on Friday. She graciously allowed me to follow her around and document what it's like in her really big shoes.
Warning: You might want to grab some coffee now because you're going to be EXHAUSTED just by reading this.
8 a.m.: Delle Donne arrives at the temporary but incredible Nike Zoom City Arena on Canal Street for a sponsorship appearance. She poses for pictures with trainers and other staff members on the LED court, which reportedly took six weeks to construct. Despite being a pop-up location built solely for All-Star weekend, it has all the amenities of a permanent location except for one -- proper heat. Since the day is one of the coldest of the year, few spectators remove their jackets.
8:20 a.m.: After a few minutes of awkwardly standing around, a Nike representative tells Delle Donne she is free to go back to the green room and hang out. She and her small entourage made up of her brother, who doubles as her agent, and his wife and her friend, head to the small space loaded with snacks, freshly pressed juices and, most importantly, heat.
9 a.m.: Delle Donne takes the court with about 100 young women decked out in the latest Nike apparel. A booming female robot voice instructs the participants about what to do and shows them with various moving lights on the floor. It's very "Hunger Games"-esque. Or maybe it's just what every workout will be like in 10 years. Delle Donne somehow manages to not seem intimidated. That makes one of us.
9:30 a.m.: The session is scheduled to continue for another 15 minutes, but Delle Donne has to leave for an official players-only meeting at her hotel. She is rushed to a waiting car outside that whisks her uptown. As the meeting was, you know, players-only, I really can't give you any more detail about what it involved.
11 a.m.: As a Shooting Stars competitor for Saturday, Delle Donne is among the first players to speak to the media at the same hotel. She is seated between her teammate Scottie Pippen (perhaps you've heard of him?) and Penny Hardaway, which would have officially made her my fourth-grade hero. Her name is misspelled on the card in front of her, but she either doesn't notice or simply doesn't mind. No one mentions the error.
11:15 a.m.: While Pippen is the biggest draw for the early media availability, Delle Donne fields her fair share of questions. Topics range from her recent back injury, to Diana Taurasi's decision to sit out the upcoming WNBA season, to her shoes. She happily shows them off, lifting her foot to the table.
11:30 a.m.: Marc Gasol will be taking Delle Donne's seat once the All-Stars head to the media floor. Dozens of Spanish press members flock to the table ahead of his appearance. She manages to swiftly make her way through the mob and to the exit. She's so quick, and efficient at throwing elbows, I somehow manage to briefly lose one of the tallest people in the crowd.
11:45 a.m.: A van is waiting for her outside the hotel to bring her immediately to an NBA Cares event at Mott Hall II, a middle school on the Upper West Side.
12:15 p.m.: Delle Donne speaks to students about healthy living and poses for pictures. The seventh- and eighth-graders seem thrilled by her presence, as you can see in the photo below.
12:30 p.m.: The Sky star seems at ease at the community event but quickly has to leave to get ready for her next appearance. No rest for the weary.
2 p.m.: After a short stop at her hotel for a snack, Delle Donne is picked up to go to the NBA All-Star All-Style fashion show at the Hammerstein Ballroom. She will be judging seven current NBA All-Stars on various runway looks, alongside some guys named Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith.
2:30 p.m.: Delle Donne is given the full-on glam treatment and gets her hair and makeup done alongside the likes of supermodels Chanel Iman and Rachel Hilbert. Despite the hectic nature of the behind-the-scenes preparation at a televised fashion show ("BUT I DON'T' WANT MY HAIR LIKE THIS!" is a common refrain), Delle Donne remains one of the only calm people backstage.
3:30 p.m.: The show, which airs on Saturday night on TNT, was scheduled to begin now but is delayed. No reason is announced, but I observed a complete hair disaster and can safely assume this is the reason. Delle Donne's professional basketball peers are each surrounded by 15 of their closest friends, but she patiently waits alone backstage, sans entourage.
4 p.m.: The show finally begins. Rocking a gorgeous red skirt and matching crop top, Delle Donne takes the stage as a judge. She's the only WNBA player included in the ceremony, but if she's uncomfortable about this, she doesn't show it. She doles out compliments and fashion critiques like she's a nice Anna Wintour. I'm not allowed to tell you the results of the three-round contest, but Delle Donne basically won the whole thing with her "I can't get past the rabbit around your neck" comment to J.R. Smith.
6 p.m.: After more starts, stops and commercial breaks than the final minutes of a close basketball game, the fashion show is finally over. After spending two hours with Barkley, Smith and the rest of the gang, Delle Donne must be ready to crash. Unlike some of the other attendees, she will not be heading to the All-Star Celebrity Game at Madison Square Garden. Instead, she goes back to her hotel, where her family and friends are waiting.
6:15 p.m.: Her commitments for the day are done but her weekend is just beginning. She will play in the Special Olympics Unified Game at Madison Square Garden early tomorrow morning and then head to the Barclays Center for the Shooting Stars competition. Just another day in the (very busy) life of one of the WNBA's brightest stars.