Since 2004, the NBA has tipped off its All-Star Weekend with the Celebrity Game, filling the void that MTV created when the network discontinued the annual Rock N’ Jock game.
This year’s contest may have less star power than any celebrity basketball game in the modern era. (The modern era began with the birth of the Rock N’ Jock franchise in 1987.)
But if you want to watch anyway (and I probably will), here is the information you need:
NBA All-Star Weekend Celebrity Game Info
- Start Time: Tonight, Friday February 24; 7:00 ET, 6:00 CT
- Television: ESPN
- Location: Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida
Celebrity Game Roster
- J. Cole
- Javier Colon (winner, season 1 of The Voice)
Actors and Comedians
- Kevin Hart (comedian, actor)
- JB Smoove (comedian, Leon on Curb Your Enthusiasm)
- Jesse Williams (actor, Grey’s Anatomy)
Reality Television Personalities
- Vinny Guadagnino (Jersey Shore)
- Drew Scott (Property Brothers)
- Jonathan Scott (Property Brothers)
ESPN Radio Host/College Basketball Analyst
- Doug Gottlieb
WNBA MVP and 4X Defensive Player of the Year
- Tamika Catchings
- Nick Anderson
- Penny Hardaway
- Mitch Richmond
- Kevin Durant
- Dwight Howard
NBA All-Star Weekend Celebrity Preview
Am I wrong to think that there are several basketball-watching demographics that will recognize few, if any, of the celebrities in tonight’s game?
There are no transcendent stars in this year’s game—celebrities such as Justin Bieber (last year’s MVP) and Terrell Owens (the 2009 MVP), whom some people love and some people hate but everyone knows.
The 12-and-under demographic will have a particularly hard time finding a familiar face on the court. A celebrity basketball game is the sort of thing an 8-year-old will watch at 7:00 on a Friday night. (I’m guessing that 8-year-olds were largely responsible for voting Justin Bieber the MVP of last year’s game.) Why aren’t there any Disney Channel or Nickelodeon personalities in this game? Was Gibby not available?
The NBA referring to the former players in this game as “Legends” is as disingenuous as Coca Cola saying that there’s no difference in taste between Coke and Coke Zero. (And I say that as someone who loves Coke Zero.) Scottie Pippen, who played in last year’s game, is a legend. Nick Anderson is a player who had a nice career. Penny Hardaway had a few great seasons, but injuries kept him from realizing his potential. Mitch Richmond scored 20,000 points during his career and is a borderline Hall-of-Famer.
If there is a basketball legend in this game, it’s Tamika Catchings. “Stars of the Past” would be better. “Legend” really isn’t fair to Nick Anderson, Penny Hardaway, or the viewers at home.
I don’t understand why Doug Gottlieb is playing. The entire point of celebrity games is to bring together people who play basketball but are famous for something else and put them on a floor with current and/or former NBA and WNBA players. We watch these games because we’re curious about whether Common or Justin Bieber can hold his own on the court.
Doug Gottlieb is a known quantity as a basketball player. We saw him play at Oklahoma State, and we know what we’re getting. I can’t imagine that anyone is interested in seeing how Gottlieb will fare against JB Smoove and 46-year-old Mitch Richmond. (Having said that, I would make an exception to the known-quantity rule for Jay Bilas.)
But if you are looking forward to watching J. Cole, the Property Brothers, and Doug Gottlieb hoop it up, pay no attention to me. And even if the Celebrity Game is a dud, the Rising Stars Challenge comes on at 9:00 ET/8:00 CT.