Celebrity Hoops Report: Smoot, Vince, Caron
Fulfilling my journalistic duty, I went to Saturday's 8th Annual Big Tigger Celebrity Basketball Classic at Trinity College, part of a weekend full of Big Tig events to raise money for HIV/AIDS causes. It turns out that it was awfully similar to last year's game, which I described in words and video a year ago this week. Hey, it's a slow time of the year.
Some superlatives follow:
Best Coaching Move: Roger Mason Jr., an assistant coach for the black team, claimed that he called Rudy Gay and told him to come. Whether or not that's 100 percent true, Gay was not on the RSVP list, and not in the starting lineups, and suddenly he showed up late in the second quarter and sat on Mason's bench.
Also sitting on Mason's bench: Vince Carter. That made it Gay + Carter vs. Andray Blatche, in terms of NBA players. I'll let you guess which side won. Oh, and Gay had 28 points in a little more than a half, while Carter had 31 or so.
"I looked up, they've got Rudy Gay," said Fred Smoot, who was on the other, losing team. "And I didn't even know he was that tall. I thought he was 6-6. He's 6-9, ain't he?"
Best Quote: Gay, when asked about facing NFL guys: "They're so strong, it's kind of hard to play against them. It's like five Shaqs out there."
Best Spectator: Carlos Rogers loses points, since he didn't heckle Smoot enough. Omarosa loses points, since she was texting the whole time. That leaves Greivis Vasquez.
He said he was friends with Gay and Merriman, that he recently worked out for the T-Wolves, Blazers and Kings, and that he's having fun with the whole process.
"It's hard, you know, it's hard to say right now," he said, when asked whether he will stay or go. "I'm in a tough situation. I've got to analyze everything I have on the table and make a good decision. I learned I'm shooting the ball better, my shot has improved a lot. I've just got to be aggressive on defense; if I'm aggressive on defense every time I play people won't think I'm slow."
"I'm gonna wait till the last day, the last hour to make my decision, for sure," he said.
Best Football Player: Best football player as basketball player, I mean. T.O. stayed away, for good reason; "He was gonna come, I said I don't need ESPN because of my game," Tigger told me. That left such names as Lions CB Anthony Henry, Cowboys S Patrick Watkins, Darnell Dockett, Shawne Merriman, Jerry Porter and Fred Smoot.
I'll give the award, though, to Seahawks safety Deon Grant of the White Team, who went right at the NBA guys, and succeeded.
"He's unbelievable," said his coach, Caron Butler. "God[darn], he's nice."
"If the kids happy and the people happy, that's what I do it for, for charity," Grant said. "I care less about [my performance] out here, I just make sure nobody gets hurt."
Most Valuable Non-Athlete: Easily 32, the rapper and Rare Essence member whose second solo album, 31 Plus Tax, will be released next month. Last year, he was the MVP of this game; a year later, he went for 22 points and couldn't be stopped at times. Played at Ballou High, no college experience, but he still gets runs in three or four times a week.
"The average guy that's not in the League can't do nothing with me," he told me, and I'd agree. I'll have more on 32 later in the week.
Toughest Luck: Andray Blatche. He had a monster game. He swatted Vince Carter. He stole the ball from Vince Carter. He dunked off bounce-pass alley-oops. He ran the floor. He was potentially breathing harder than any other player.
And yet, he couldn't carry a team against Carter and Gay. So for the second straight year, he lost.
"Aw man, c'mon," he said, when I pointed this out. "You see what happened, you saw how Vince got on fire."
Best Media Participant: I'm not counting the 73 WPGC personalities, so that leave's Fox 5's Wisdom Martin, wearing dual knee pads for the entire Fourth Estate.
"I mean, you've got NBA guys out here; I'm not even close, man," he observed at halftime. "Somebody told me before the game I have to represent for the media, so that's all I'll try to do, is represent for the media."
Best-Dressed Coach: Caron Butler, head coach of the white team. One of his assistants was new Wiz assistant Sam Cassell, who was in a t-shirt that emcee Miles Rawls assured us was not a wife-beater. Cassell ended up running the huddles and calling the plays down the stretch. But Caron looked better.
"I think he dresses fabulously," said actress Denyce Lawton, another of Caron's assistants. "I think for a heterosexual man to have that type of style, I thought he was very on-point. I loved his Louis Vuitton loafers. Ohhhh. You saw his watch? I was blinded. I couldn't even see what was going on on that end of the court."
I also asked Denyce about the strategy her team employed.
"There's no 'I' in team," she said. "And give 110 percent. And make sure you pass the ball."
Best Mohawk: Merriman. Next.
Best Optimism: Caron again. I asked about the Wiz winding up with the worst possible spot out of the Lottery, and asked if he was angry at the result.
"No," he said. "Where there's a will, there's a way. Anything can happen. I know we're gonna be good next year."
Best Quote, Part II: Boxer Winky Wright was technically the coach of the black team, though Mason seemed to take control of the huddle. I asked him about this.
"I'm gonna let a boxer call plays?" he said.
Best Talker: Yeah, Smoot wins. "Are you gonna be a witness?" he asked the credentialed media before the tip, while promising to drop 40. I asked who he planned on matching up with.
"It doesn't matter," he said. "The matchup is me. Who wants to match up with me is the question. I came to score."
Later, I saw him taking warmups on the floor. "See, you're a witness," he said, then launched an airball.
Things got a bit worse once the game started. He came off the bench gunning, missed his first four shots, including two airballs, and then sat for a while. "Lifting too many weights" he called out from the bench. He finished with, I believe, two points. That's 38 less than his goal. I asked Rudy Gay for a performance review.
"No comment," Smoot said, interrupting Gay before he could start. "There's no comment."
"All right," Gay said, looking confused.
"I had wrist tendonitis during the game," Smoot explained. "Took myself out. Team couldn't use me today."
Still, he gets mad love for wearing No. 21.
Best White Player: As in, actual skin tone. And no one wins this award, because there weren't any. You're telling me the crowd wouldn't want to see The Washington Post's Mike Wise posting up Rudy Gay? Or Caps F Matt Bradley scrapping down low? Next year, please?
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