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Net gains

Atlanta's All-Star weekend is shaping up to be a bash of Yao Ming proportions

"If you build it, they will come." The world of sport has proven this pre-fab proverb to be true again and again: Build a new stadium and they will come — often with friends in tow.

Back in 1999, Philips Arena opened its doors to the Hawks and the Thrashers, making it the one place in town Atlantans can see mediocrity for a premium price from fall to spring. Apparently its novelty value is still intact — at least with the NBA, which has made Philips ground zero for the 2003 All-Star Game.

But the NBA doesn't travel alone. This weekend is crammed with a whirlwind mix of celebrity excess, the hottest in urban music, and, of course, the requisite flash of a basketball game free from the burden of defense.

Ever since Shaq's foray into hip-hop and the release of Above the Rim, the 1994 film in which Tupac Shakur plays a streetballin' thug, urban music has become the official soundtrack of basketball's premier league. Nowadays, rappers want to be basketball stars, and basketball stars want to be rappers.

That in mind, we've assembled a lengthy list of the various musical events scheduled for All-Star Weekend — and we've taken the liberty of classifying the talent NBA style. We've even provided a handy key.

Thursday, Feb. 6

Club NBA, Georgia World Congress Center, 4-10 p.m.

Roster: Cherish (S), Exhale (S), Prymary Colorz (Y), 4Shades (S), Catrina Harding (S), Jagged Edge (S), Jatis (S), D'Mello (Y), Killer Mike (S), Tara King (S), Lloyd (S), TCP (S)

The DL: Club NBA kicks off All-Star Weekend with a showcase of the host city's top urban talent. Free (first-come, first-serve) with the purchase of Jam Session tickets ($15 adults, $10 children under 12). 285 Andrew Young International Blvd. 800-4NBA-TIX.

Party hosted by Allen Iverson, Duce Staley and Trina, Riviera, 10 p.m.

Roster: Mami Chula (S), DJ Trauma (S)

The DL: This is the first real club bash of All-Star Weekend, and who better to emcee the proceedings than the consummate 24-hour host. A.I. is joined by Eagles running back Duce Staley for a streetwise soiree featuring some of Atlanta's top radio DJs strutting their stuff on the wheels of steel. $30 general admission, $75 VIP. 1055 Peachtree St. 800-289-6187.

Friday, Feb. 7

Jordan Presents LOVE: In Concert, Center Court at AmericasMart, 7:30 p.m. (doors)

Roster: Ja Rule (K), Eve (K), the Roots (M), Jurassic 5 (M), DJ Biz Markie (J), MC Doug E. Fresh (J)

The DL: Those smart enough to ditch the Philips/GWCC area for this event will be treated to acts from across the rap spectrum. Ja Rule — who, it seems, was on every other rap song last year — and Philly girl Eve rub elbows with the verbally voluptuous Jurassic 5 and the Roots, and old-schoolers Biz Markie (who's traded his Mozart wig for turntables) and the legendary Doug E. Fresh. $35. 250 Spring St. 404-249-6400. www.ticketmaster.com.

Holyfield Foundation Benefit, Georgia World Congress Center, 8 p.m.

Roster: Ashanti (Y), Bone Thugs-n-Harmony (K), Baby (of the Hot Boyz and Big Tymers; Y), B2K, Fat Joe (K), Jadakiss (Y)

The DL: Grammy nominee Ashanti headlines this party featuring Bone Thugs-n-Harmony — so expect a "What's Luv?" duet with Fat Joe. Proceeds benefit the American Association of Adapted Sports Program, the Georgia Amateur Boxing Association, the Quick Silver Track Club and construction of the Holyfield Youth Center. $55. 285 Andrew Young International Blvd. 404-249-6400. www. ticketmaster.com.

Party hosted by Allen Iverson, Ludacris, Scarface and Greg Street, Park Tavern, 10 p.m.

Roster: Jaycee (S), Mami Chula (S), DJ Q-Tip (S)

The DL: Def Jam South head Scarface teams up with Iverson to showcase some of Atlanta's top DJ talent, including one from Scarface's own stable, Jaycee. $50 general admission, $100 VIP. 500 10th St. 800-289-6187. Magic Johnson & Russell and Kimora Simmons host "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous," SciTrek, 10 p.m.

Roster: DJ Irie (Y), DJ Tron & Motion (Ol' School Lounge; K), DJ Mars (Y), DJ Trauma (Y)

The DL: Around since the early '90s, DJ Tron is the featured spinner at this event hosted by NBA institution Magic Johnson and rap/ hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. Official Miami Heat turntablist DJ Irie also spins, among others. $50 general admission, $100 VIP. 395 Piedmont Ave. 800-289-6187.

FUBU & Snoop Dogg's Underground Throwdown, Underground Atlanta, 10 p.m.

Roster: Ms. Jade (Y) and more

The DL: Terminally unhip Underground Atlanta gets a serious image boost when Timbaland's new Beat Club prodigy Ms. Jade performs. Jade is the only artist currently scheduled to perform at the event, which is sprawled across Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights (Saturday marks the launch of Snoop's new SDC clothing line). But others in Timbaland's extended family (e.g., Missy Elliott, Bubba Sparxxx) may take part. The celebrity guest list includes the Hawks' Theo Ratliff, San Francisco 49er Terrell Owens, Boyz II Men's Nate Morris and more. $50 general admission, $150 VIP. Downtown. 866-693-STAR.

Saturday, Feb. 8

Club NBA, Georgia World Congress Center, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

Roster: Nelly (K), Jermaine Dupri (S), DJ Kay Slay (Y), Cee-Lo (S), Nicci Gilbert (Y), Isyss (Y), Bubba Sparxx (S), Tracy Lee (Y), Nappy Roots (Y), Razcal Crew (Y), Field Mob (S), Zane (S)

The DL: Nelly performs with a small army of Atlanta talent, including the funky Cee-Lo, up-and-comers Field Mob and fellow Southerners Nappy Roots. Free (first-come, first-serve) with the purchase of Jam Session tickets ($15 adults, $10 children under 12). 285 Andrew Young International Blvd. 800-4NBA-TIX.

NBA All-Star Read to Achieve Celebration, Georgia World Congress Center, 10 a.m.

Roster: Justin Timberlake (K), Christina Aguilera (K), B2K (Y), LL Cool J (J)

The DL: LL Cool J joins two former Mickey Mouse Clubbers in kicking it for the kids during this live TV special simulcast on 12 different networks, including ABC and TNT. Justin Timberlake sings his hit song, "Cry Me a River" (sighted on BET recently) and Christina Aguilera performs "Beautiful." Free (first-come, first-serve) with the purchase of Jam Session tickets ($15 adults, $10 children under 12). 285 Andrew Young International Blvd. 800-4NBA-TIX.

Throwback All-Star Concert & Party, Earthlink Live, 9 p.m.

Roster: Sugarhill Gang (J), DJ Chip (S) and more.

The DL: The Gang who brought you the seminal "Rapper's Delight" kick it old-school at EarthLink Live. $65-$75. 1374 W. Peachtree St. 404-249-6400. www.ticketmaster.com.

Magic Johnson and Terrell Owens host "Saturday Night Live," Riviera, 10 p.m.

Roster: DJ Tron & Motion (K), Biz Markie (J), DJ Q-Tip (S) and more

The DL: Once he was nowhere; now he's everywhere. The ubiquitous Biz Markie makes an appearance at Magic's second party. He's joined by DJ Q-Tip and others. $40 general admission, $75 VIP. 1055 Peachtree St. 800-289-6187.

Sunday, Feb. 9

Club NBA, Georgia World Congress Center, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

Roster: MC Lyte (J), Erick Sermon (J), Clipse (Y), Floetry (Y), Mr. Cheeks (Y), Nivea (Y), D'Mello (S), Amerie (Y), Nick Cannon (of Drumline; Y), Kai & Kandyce (S), Ja Rule (K), Marvin Winans (J)

The DL: Ja Rule communes with legendary old-timers such as MC Lyte, along with newcomers Clipse, Floetry and more. Free (first-come, first-serve) with the purchase of Jam Session tickets ($15 adults, $10 children under 12). 285 Andrew Young International Blvd. 800-4NBA-TIX.

Party hosted by Magic Johnson and Allen Iverson, 755 Club, Turner Field, 10 p.m.

Roster: DJ Freckles (Y), DJ Mike Lowe (Y), Biz Markie (J), Mami Chula (S)

The DL: Magic and A.I. pool their resources. Oh, and some guy name Biz Markie is also on the bill. $40 general admission, $100 VIP. 800-289-6187.

music@creativeloafing.com?CL's handy all-star Key
Kobe (K) As in Kobe Bryant, one of the top five players in the NBA and synonymous with pro basketball's best. The same goes for the artists that fall into this category.

Yao (Y) These acts represent a changing of the guard — just as Yao knocked Shaq from his usual perch as starting center for the Western Conference All-Stars.

Mutombo (M) Like former Hawks center Dikembe Mutombo, these artists are known as much for their musical excellence as for their intelligence and activism.

Jordan (J) Denotes acts that are still hanging around, for better or worse — well after they've made their indelible mark on urban music.

Shareef (S) These artists could fall into a number of the above categories. But like Shareef Abdur-Rahim, they're major stars here in their hometown.