The NBA Celebrity Game has evolved into an All-Star Weekend staple, like it or not. Sure, most fans really only look forward to All-Star Saturday Night, maybe the Rookie Challenge on Friday, and of course the main event on Sunday, but the Celebrity Game definitely flies under the radar as a must-see.
With the festivities this year being in L.A. — the hub of everything celebrity — the NBA had no choice but to incorporate a star-studded lineup. And does it really get any bigger than Justin Bieber, who apparently is an avid baller? The game is already sold out, which is an indication that the celebrity game is going to be bigger than ever before.
Joining Bieber in the game will be TV personalities Joel McHale (“The Soup”), Zac Levi (“Chuck”), Nick Cannon (“America’s Got Talent”) and Rob Kardashian (“My Sisters Are Way More Famous Than Me”). Rapper/actor Common is scheduled to play, as is rapper/actor and former USC benchwarmer Romeo Miller, and actor Michael Rappaport, whose 2009 Celebrity Game fouling spree puts him in the celeb game Hall of Fame.
As far as NBA alumni, Scottie Pippen, Mitch Ritchmond, A.C Green, Chris Mullin, Rick Fox and Jalen Rose will be taking the court with WNBA stars Tamika Catchings and Swin Cash. Signed up to coach are Bill Walton, Magic Johnson, Jason Alexander (“Seinfeld”), Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Simmons and Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”).
So who is going to shine among the stars? Bieber is one of those kids who just happens to be good at everything: He could very well take the NBA retirees by surprise, utilizing his youth to go HAM on their old asses. I can guarantee that when Pippen, Rose, Fox, Green, and Mullin are all huffing and puffing down the court, Bieber will be zooming past them for layups. Let’s not forget, this teeny-bopper goes on worldwide tours performing multiple songs a night and doesn’t lose a lick of energy throughout his performances. Expect to see Iron-Bieber running circles around the NBA elders. He’s my sleeper pick for MVP. (And if any of the ladies are on his team, they’ll constantly feed him the ball, as females have difficulty resisting his boyish charm.)
Nick Cannon should be a key contributor as well. He played a superstar basketball player/undercover cop in the movie Underclassmen. If his moves there were indicative of his real talent, he could mess around and get a triple-double. And if Rob Kardashian has been playing pick-up with brother-in-law Lamar Odom, expect him to be in game shape.
Reigning MVP Rappaport was nothing less than spectacular last year, shutting down two-time MVP Terrell Owens, holding him to a mere 10 points. Rappaport may not be too much of an offensive force (4 points last year) but the team doesn’t need him for offense — they need him to put Bieber on Rappaport Island.
Common is fresh off of playing an NBA player in the film Just Wright, so he should be in shape to compete. And maybe Romeo can prove to the world that he really did earn his spot on the USC Trojans and wasn’t just part of a package deal for best bud DeMar DeRozan. If not, DeRozan can have Romeo be his plus-one for the Slam Dunk contest.
If the NBA alums decide to exert some effort, Pippen is my MVP pick. A few years after he retired from the League he suited up for a game in Europe and showed he can still ball, and earlier this week at a Bulls/Bobcats game in Chicago, Pippen looked like he’s at least in better shape than Michael Jordan these days.
Watch out for Mullin and Richmond, though. As TNT’s Kenny Smith said earlier this season, a good jump shot is like a good woman: She’ll never leave you. Mullin and “Rock” Richmond don’t have to run fast to shoot the lights out.