All-Star Celebrity Game: Semi-serious diary for semi-serious game
NEW YORK -- In lieu of actually covering the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, SI.com decided to do a live diary of the event, with the same amount of seriousness as the celebrities who actually participated in the game.
7:00 PM ET: Sage Steele takes the stage to MC the game. I learned two things: this is the first time the NBA has hosted the Celebrity Game at an NBA arena, and that Sarah Silverman is apparently a late addition -- and playing.
7:01: First pregame takeaway: this might be the last time the NBA hosts the Celebrity Game in a real arena. Pretty much nobody is at Madison Square Garden.
7:03: Player introductions begin. They include: “The Perfect Heartthrob” Ansel Elgort (I don’t know who that is), Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler (sporting a headband and a beer belly) and Little League superstar and probable future UConn commit Mo’Ne Davis. Note to self: Don’t ask her anything about Jackie Robinson West. Also, Robert Pera, whose “passion for the game,” according to the PA announcer, not his millions, made him the owner of the Grizzlies.
7:10: It must be brutal to be a Knicks cheerleader and have to dance at an event nobody seems to be all that into. Then again, experience.
7:24: The daughters of the late Stuart Scott walk to center court for a moment in his honor. Genuinely a nice gesture by the league.
7:28: The game actually starts. Three-time Celebrity Game MVP Kevin Hart takes Mo’Ne off the dribble on the first possession. This strikes me as somewhat sad. Karmic note: he airballs a three two minutes later.
7:31: Chris Mullin hits a corner three. He can still do that. A little later, Allan Houston hits a three too. He can still do that too, and the Knicks could probably use him.
7:33: Karma strikes again as Mo’Ne blows past Kevin Hart with a spin move, for a bucket. People are cheering for her in the press box. My journalistic ethics are severely tested.
7:43: At the end of the first quarter, the West leads the East, 18-17. I realize I don’t even know which team has been wearing which colors. This is riveting.
7:45: Comedian Michael Rapaport ruthlessly blocks Mo’Ne Davis. This is your daily reminder to be a nice person. Karmic note No 2: he airballs a shot two minutes later. There’s a trend here.
8:03: After an excruciating seven-minute TV timeout…I realize this game has a running clock, which is arguably more exciting than watching Kevin Hart dribble a basketball. At halftime, the West, led by Robert Pera with eight points, leads the East 32-24.
8:21: The second half mercifully begins.
8:26: 6'4" Win Butler and 5'4" Kevin Hart amusingly get tied up on a loose ball. Butler, who has notably appeared in Matt Bonner’s charity games, is actually not that bad. A couple minutes later, he scores off a sweet no-look dime from Skylar Diggins, who could definitely be dominating this game if she wanted to.
8:30: The crowd noise reaches its apex… for the Sean John “Diddy Style Dress and Dribble” competition, in which two men race to don Sean John apparel and make a layup.
8:31: UPDATE: the crowd has surpassed its previous mark as Dave Chappelle, who’s at the game with his son, does a courtside interview. He tells Kevin Hart, chasing another game MVP, that “all the comedians in New York believe in you.”
8:36: Allan Houston looks pretty athletic while draining another pull-up jumper. Paging James Dolan. At the end of the third, the West leads the East 42-37.
8:44: Kevin Hart gets another layup. I might be willing to acknowledge that he’s kind of not-that-bad at basketball. Shortly afterward, things take a somber turn as actor Jesse Williams suffers a leg injury and is helped off the court. Luckily, I hear there are doctors on the set of Grey’s Anatomy.
8:49: Diggins and Hart trade buckets as the game enters its final stretch, the West maintaining a narrow lead. Then Nick Cannon, who apparently has been playing this entire time, fouls someone.
Overheard in crowd: Robert Pera? Who is that?
8:53: Allan Houston hits a three-ball for the East to make it a two-point game with under two minutes to go. The West manages not to turn it over and hang on. Ansel Elgort, who I just learned is the lead in The Fault in Our Stars, drains two game-clinching free throws. He pouts, and I imagine tears streaming slowly down his face.
8:58: The West wins 59-51. WNBA star Schoni Schimmel finishes with a game-high 17 points for the East. Kevin Hart adds 15 for the losing team. On the other end, Diggins and Pera tie with 13 points, and Butler finishes with 8 and 12. Mo’ne Davis goes 1-of-8 from the field and kind of subtly might have been benched in the second half. Shame on you, Spike Lee.
9:02: Kevin Hart inexplicably wins MVP. The president of Sprint presents him the award and then tries to take it back, in a self-described “Kanye moment.”
Hart, award in hand, makes a classy move and garners another round of applause for Stuart Scott. The now four-time MVP then announces his retirement from the Celebrity All-Star game.
And a tree falls in the forest.