NEW ORLEANS -- Excitement is brewing for this year's NBA All-Star Basketball Game, but officials are warning fans to beware.
Ahead of the game, people are doing what they can to support their team by buying different kinds of merchandise. But how do you know if what you're buying is real or fake?
Whether it's socks, t-shirts, or jackets, people are gearing up for the the upcoming game.
"I love bedazzled, anything sparkly catches my eye," said Los Angeles resident Norine Flores. "I don't know what to expect, I've just heard stories and I'm excited to experience it all."
Alexander Castrian flew in from Germany for the game. He said he was introduced to basketball in 2010 while studying abroad.
"And ever since, I've been in love with basketball," he said. "To get to see all the players play in one place, get to see LeBron play live, I'm super stoked."
For him, part of the excitement is wearing his team's colors.
"I think it builds some sort of camaraderie, just everyone showing out," he said.
Fans agree, saying dressing up is part of the game.
"Especially with the whole West and East Coast thing, you know who's on who's side," said another Los Angeles resident, Delmy Bariallas. "It's fun to trash talk sometimes and it adds to the whole ambiance and experience of it."
However, buyer beware! An event like this could be a slam dunk for counterfeiters. So how do you know if what you're buying is the real deal? There are several things the NBA said you can do to make sure the merchandise you buy isn't counterfeit:
• Look for the hologram sticker or holographic hangtag and a sewn-in or screen-printed label identifying the name of the NBA licensee (e.g., adidas, Stance, Mitchell & Ness).
• Shop at NBA-authorized retail locations, such as the NBA Store ─ A Fanatics Experience with locations at the Smoothie King Center, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, Royal Sonesta New Orleans and InterContinental New Orleans – rather than buying items from street vendors, flea markets, or other questionable sources.
• Shop online at NBAStore.com.
• Beware of ripped tags or irregular markings on apparel.
Since 1992, the NBA said they've helped seize more than $425 million worth of fake memorabilia. While they continue to keep an eye out, they ask fans to do the same. Because for many, it's more than a piece of clothing or something else that's worn, it's a memory that some say will help them never forget.
"Something for me to take home and remember it and of course represent," said Castrian.
"It's nice to come out and have a jersey," said Bariallas. "It's a good piece of memorabilia too that you get to keep and if you're lucky you get autographs."
(© 2017 WWL)