The LA STARS Celebrity/NBA All-Star Weekend drew to a close Sunday night at USC’s Galen Center but there was no doubt who was at the center of attention.
Baron Davis and Paul Pierce played gracious hosts as they welcomed over 50 athletes and celebrities to their backyard for a weekend of basketball and charitable activities.
For the first time, the NBA game pitted a squad of players with Los Angeles ties against stars from around the league. The game was a spirited exhibition and even though the L.A. team held home court, winning 140-130, the score was secondary to the players giving the fans a great show.
Speaking of the fans, they were the true winners of the evening. Dressed to impress, they waited in lines stretched around the arena for the hottest and most reasonably priced tickets in town.
Where else could you see an exhibition featuring four NBA All-Stars (not counting Jermaine O’Neal on the bench) and a bevy of NBA players without expecting to pay a ridiculous amount of cash?
During the game, fans were treated to, among other things, a shooting clinic by Ricky Davis (Minnesota), flashy passes from Jason Kidd (New Jersey) and Deron Williams (Utah), and an impromptu post-game dunk contest between Wizards rookie Nick Young and Bobcats center Ryan Hollins.
Hollins had the play of the night with a thunderous tip-dunk that brought the fans and both benches to their feet as they erupted with cheers.
Indiana Pacers forward Jermaine O’Neal stayed on the bench in street clothes, but prior to the game, he made headlines by saying that he would be open to playing in Los Angeles.
While he later clarified that he was not demanding a trade, Lakers fans can only hope that management was listening and, in lieu of losing Kevin Garnett to the Celtics, they can find a way to make an attractive offer to acquire O’Neal.
All in all, neither Davis nor Pierce forgot to remind everyone what this weekend was really about; giving back to the community.
Earlier in the day, they held an open carnival earlier in the day to promote healthy living for families. Also, the money they raised during a charity auction the night before will go towards their personal charities as well as the charities for fellow partner Gilbert Arenas and former event host Magic Johnson.
Johnson, who had hosted his Midsummer Night’s Magic for twenty years, was also present at center court before the game. Like a proud big brother, he praised both Davis and Pierce for using their talents to bless others.
It was fitting that Davis was on the microphone, thanking the crowd at game’s end because for both him and Pierce, this was a labor of love that he announced they planned to do for at least 10-15 more years.