PHOENIX – Any event featuring over-the-hill former stars and actors who think they can ball but can’t is not going to be pretty.
You won’t see Dominique Wilkins winning a dunk contest any time soon when he could barely move up and down the floor, comedian Chris Tucker looked to have put on a few pounds, and Michael Rapaport from “Prison Break” appeared winded after the first couple trips down the floor before compiling what’s got to be a celeb game-high eight fouls.
That still made for an entertaining All-Star Celebrity Game for the sellout crowd of 4,000 at the Phoenix Convention Center, especially with a quartet of Harlem Globetrotters doing their act all game and a halftime show of “Sweet Georgia Brown.”
But in the end, the only current men’s professional athlete on the floor – and the only player who seemed to treat this as anything more than a fun exhibition – stole the show.
Yes, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens won his second straight MVP award by pouring in a game-high 17 points, with an array of jumpers and athletic dunks. He almost looked to be proving a point that he could play in the NBA if he wanted to.
TO often shot immediately when the ball found him and not surprisingly only tallied one assist.
At one point I was worried he was going to chew out WNBA All-Star guard Kara Lawson for not passing the ball to him enough. No word on if he was jealous of her on-court chemistry with any of his teammates.
The off-beat game included ESPN play-by-play guy Mike Breen moonlighting as an official, Globetrotter “Special K” throwing the contents of a bucket at the ESPN booth that ended up being confetti instead of a liquid, and “Special K” switching out balls to perform the ball on a string trick in which the ball snapped back toward him after he took a free throw.
The best old-timer on the floor of a bunch that included Wilkins, Clyde Drexler and Rick Fox (how does he belong in that group?) was former Suns guard and current assistant coach Dan Majerle, who scored 13 points and hit three of four long balls.
Trailing by three in the final seconds, Majerle complained the opposition threw a box and one at him before he eventually turned it over to end the game, as the East beat the West 60-57.
“In the heat of the moment I guess I choked,” Majerle said. “They didn’t want me to shoot. That’s all right, I had fun. It was a good time. It was fun meeting up with those guys.”
It was a special day for Majerle playing in front of his son and a hometown crowd that still adores him.
“It’s great, it really is,” he said. “I was a big part of it ’95 as a player, and now I’m a part of it just watching, I’m a (dunk contest) judge. I get to do a couple other things and just celebrating being back in Phoenix, and it’s good because the downtown area has grown, and it’s nice to be able to show it off.”
Ironically enough, Majerle was in the same situation 14 years ago that Amare Stoudemire now finds himself in, the center of trade rumors when he should be enjoying starting in his city’s All-Star Game.
Majerle ended up being traded to Cleveland the following summer in the infamous Hot Rod Williams deal.
Now, 14 years later, what’s the Suns assistant saying to his All-Star starter in the exact same situation?
“You can’t do anything about it,” Majerle said. “It’s out of his hands. He’s just got to play hard and do what he can do and control what he can control, and whatever happens is going to happen no matter what he does.”