One way to raise the profile of a weekend filled with your sports league’s best and brightest is to bloat it with celebrities of debatable relevance. Since 2004, the league has held an annual celebrity game, featuring a mix of legitimate stars, a few former NBA legends, and a whole lot of B-list actors. To wit: Jamie Kennedy, Carrot Top, Wilmer Valderrama, Nick Carter and the kid from Jerry Maguire.
This year’s game features a typical hodgepodge of talent: Michael B. Jordan, Bruce Bowen, Kevin Hart, and, uh, Mike Green and Mike Golic will lace up and attempt to not make complete fools of themselves. To be clear, more or less everything about this event is sad. What I've done here is simply document what stood out as the most depressing moments of this particularly depressing annual event. Make way for Paris Hilton’s chihuahua, everyone. It's about to get bleak.
Michael Rapaport Talks Trash
Why it was sad: In addition to his roles on Boston Public and Prison Break, Michael Rapaport is best known for being born and raised in New York City. Therefore, I am sure he knows a thing or two about talking trash. Still, watching him do it to a former all-star wide receiver during the 2010 game -- forget the fact that the wide receiver happens to be Terrell Owens -- is one of the tallest peaks in the Sad mountain range.
Mark Cuban Gets Stuffed
Why is it was sad: Mark Cuban is a great owner. Mark Cuban is not great a player. Cubes, my man, how did you get your shot blocked by Chris Tucker? You’re 6’3”, a full three inches taller than him. Making matters worse, this is one of those really demoralizing blocks, where the shooter just sort of lobs it up there and it gets stuffed back in his face.
Kevin Hart Gets Ejected
Why it was sad: I like Kevin Hart, and I don’t like to make fun of him—particularly since this stunt during the 2012 celeb game was clearly supposed to be a joke. That said, it’s still sad purely for its high degree of cliché. This gag is one of those bottom-of-the-barrel sketch comedy jokes where someone thinks it would be funny to pretend to get really angry at a referee and just start stripping off their clothes.
I dunno, maybe I'm being too hard on the guy. He did end up winning MVP that year.
Stephen A. Smith Yelling at Bill Walton
Why it was sad: In 2012, the NBA let First Take host Stephen A. Smith coach a team. Seriously, can you imagine having Stephen A. as your coach?
“NICE SHOT, MAN.”
“Wait, coach, are you mad at me or are you complimenting me?”
“I AM COMPLIMENTING YOU. CLEARLY. CLEARLY.”
“Coach, there’s a vein popping out of your forehead.”
“YOU MUST BE OUT YOUR DAMN MIND.”
I'll pass. Anyway, in the video above, you can see him yelling at the opposing team’s coach, Bill Walton. Who yells at Bill Walton?
Andrew Firestone is Considered a Celebrity
Why it was sad: I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in the meeting where someone suggested that a former The Bachelor bachelor should participate.
“OK, so we have Ice Cube, Chris Meloni. Anyone else?”
“How about that dude from the third season of The Bachelor, Andrew Firestone?”
“Christ, yes, obviously, that's genius.”
I say that snarkily, but then again: The Celebrity All-Star Game is on ESPN, The Bachelor is on ABC, Disney owns both ESPN and ABC, and soon a corporation will own you.
The Secretary of Education Schooling an NBA Hall of Famer
Why it was sad: I shouldn’t make fun of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan throwing a pass right past Chris Mullin’s ear without him noticing. You know why? Duncan isn’t your typical politician—he’s 6’5” and was the co-captain of the varsity basketball team at Harvard. He even played professionally in Australia. But still, this is a government official schooling a five-time NBA all-star. No matter which way you slice it, it’s pretty sad.
Paris Hilton: Basketball Coach
Why it was sad: This should make you feel old: Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s reality show premiered more than 10 years ago. 2004 was the height of Paris-mania, when people were dressing their dogs in cute little outfits and saying things like “That’s hot” unironically. In fact, Hilton was so popular that the NBA decided it would be a good idea to let her be an assistant coach for the ‘04 celebrity game. Of course, she brought along her chihuahua, who happened to be just as qualified to coach a basketball game. (Bonus sad moment: Hilton’s then-boyfriend, Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys, played in the game.)
MVP Justin Bieber
Why it was sad: Remember that time Justin Bieber played in one of these games? (I am just kidding, of course you shouldn’t remember this.) What’s worse: Bieber was voted MVP despite scoring only 8 points on 3-11 shooting. ESPN even created a video asking NBA players what they thought of the Biebs basketball skills. See, this is what happens when you let the fans decide on who takes home the hardware. There was no way in hell Justin Bieber fanatics were going to let him lose that MVP award. He could have murdered Rick Fox and still left with that trophy. How dare you corrupt the sacred Celeb Game, Beliebers.
Vinny Wears a Shooting Sleeve
Why it was sad: How serious did Vinny from Jersey Shore take part the 2012 celebrity game? Not only did he use his Twitter account to pressure the NBA into letting him play, he decided to wear a shooting sleeve. Vinny, look, you don’t need that shooting sleeve. I promise.