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Amex Q&A: Lauri Markkanen, Deron Williams and Channing Frye Kick Off 2023 NBA All-Star Weekend with Amex Colleague Event

February 19, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of American Express

NBA All-Star returned to Salt Lake City for the first time since 1993. To celebrate 2023 NBA All-Star Weekend, American Express created epic experiences for fans, including Card Members and colleagues.

The company hosted colleagues for an intimate conversation with Jazz power forward Lauri Markkanen, former Jazz point guard Deron Williams, and NBA Legend Channing Frye at the American Express Outside the Court activation. Amex also offered experiences for basketball fans to enjoy throughout the three-day event that included food from local small business vendors, a speakeasy-style “Dirty Soda Shoppe” Card Member lounge, an outdoor block party, customizable merchandise, and more. Additionally, Card Members who joined in on the action at the Vivint Arena received access to benefits including two dedicated Card Member entrances and American Express’ contactless shop for an easier time checking in and grabbing concessions.

In the Q&A moderated by Frye, Markkanen and Williams talked about their careers, Salt Lake City, and the fans:

CF: Lauri, what does it feel like to be playing your first All-Star game in Utah?

LM: It feels great, Utah has a great fan base and so it feels good to be representing and have the fans behind me.

CF: Deron, you are a 3X All-Star. Can you tell us about your experience having once been an All-Star player for Utah?

DW: I was fortunate to play an All-Star game once for Utah before getting traded and I have a lot of great memories from that time. This is my first time coming back after many years and so it’s really exciting to get to be here for the city, the community, and the fans.

CF: What has been a memorable moment here in Utah?

LM: Two times that I can recall specifically: First, I’ll say that the crowd is always incredible during the season, which is why we’re so tough. But it was during my first playoff game at home where I’m telling you that the hair on the back of my neck stood up. The fans were all standing up waiting for us to come out 30 minutes before the game and cheering like we had already won the game.

The other time was when Derek Fisher had to leave the playoffs to help take care of his daughter but then unexpectedly came in, flew in, got dressed in the car, and ran out on the court for the second quarter of the game.

CF: So Lauri, which of your famous dunks is your favorite?

LM: I think the most memorable ones are just going back to Chicago. And then another was probably that dunk on Steven Adams. That’s something I don’t think I’ve ever done, and that I didn’t know I could do.

CF: Deron, now that you’ve moved on from basketball, can you tell us what you are focused on?

DW: I have 6 kids so that keeps me busy for sure. And I setup the Point of Hope Foundation that we’re currently in the process of revamping and updating the website for. It’s an organization dedicated to supporting autism awareness and many other great causes that need support. I’ve also been thinking about bringing back my dodgeball tournament, a charity fundraiser for the organization that I think has been a fan favorite.

CF: Lauri, which new friendship in the Jazz organization has been your favorite, and why?

LM: I’d have to say our rookie, Walker Kessler. We share a lot of common interests like video games on the plane and a Harry Potter movie. But the whole team is made up of really great guys so I’m just happy to be here.

Photo: Courtesy of American Express

Speaking to this experience with the players, Utah-based Amex colleague Juncheng Ke said, “What I’ve always enjoyed most about basketball is that it’s been a way to bond with others, including friends and family members. Now, being able to personally meet and hear from the players with my colleagues, is such a unique experience.”

Multimedia Files:

Channing Frye, Lauri Markkanen, Deron Williams_Photo Credit_Courtesy of American Express 5616 x 3744 jpeg 22.12 MB
Channing Frye, Lauri Markkanen, Deron Williams and Juncheng Ke_Photo Credit_Courtesy of American Express 5616 x 3744 jpeg 21.31 MB
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