With NBA labor negotiations sputtering into what could be a long litigation process threatening the entire 2011-12 season, it’s good to see some players taking matters into their own hands.
Charity basketball games have been popping up all over the U.S., giving fans the occasional opportunity to see NBA stars such as Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Rajon Rondo actually take the court.
Bay Area fans will have the chance to watch some big names this weekend too, as former El Cerrito High School star and current Milwaukee Bucks forward Drew Gooden is putting on a charity game of his own tonight at the Cow Palace.
“With the NBA postponing the season, I thought ‘Why not do a charity game? Why not get some guys to play?’ Guys are antsy right now, they want to play,” Gooden said. “We parented up with the Make-a-Wish foundation so this is going to be huge for their foundation. We’re going to be presenting a check to them at halftime. So those are going to be the winners at the end of the day.”
Thanks to a well-traveled career, Gooden had plenty of friends to call on for the game. Some of the biggest names include Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, James Harden, Warriors’ own Dorell Wright and Jeremy Tyler, and a young Spanish phenom by the name of Ricky Rubio.
“He’s a big talent,” Gooden said. “I think this might be his first time even playing against NBA guys, so this is kind of like Ricky Rubio’s debut game.” Gooden adds that Rubio is well-prepared for the new level of competition.
“He’s ready to show — not even the Bay Area — but the world, that he can play in this league,” Gooden said.
Even with the excitement from players quickly jumping on board for the event, Gooden almost didn’t have a site for the game.
“I didn’t know how big this game could get, and the size of the venue we needed,” he said. “We tried to get USF’s gym, but we got rejected and that kind of threw a monkey wrench in the whole charity event ... so I’ve been against the wall trying to put this thing together.”
Gooden calls the opportunity to hold the game at the Cow Palace a “blessing,” and said he expects players at the event to compete as if it’s a real NBA game.
“Those guys go hard, so it’s going to be a fun game to watch,” Gooden said. “I just want to, not only bring basketball back to the hometown of where I’m from, but also to give the fans a chance to see us play and give them what they’ve been itching for all summer with this lockout issue.”
WHAT: Drew Gooden Bay Area Make-a-Wish Charity Basketball Game
WHEN: Today, 6 p.m.
WHERE: Cow Palace
TICKETS: Available at www.ticketmaster.com
EXPECTED TO PLAY: Bucks’ Drew Gooden, Knicks’ Amare Stoudemire, Warriors’ Dorrell Wright, Clippers’ Eric Gordon, Mavericks’ Shawn Marion, Timberwolves’ Ricky Rubio