The All-Star Weekend is officially well under way, thanks to an ever-increasing constellation of stars that just seems to get brighter and brighter by the minute. Earlier today the man in the spotlight was the Portland Blazer Rasheed Wallace. No, the Philadelphia-bred power forward didn't replace the injured Shaquille O'Neal on the All-Star roster (the Clippers' Elton Brand did) but he did show up to host Sega's 2nd Annual NBA 2K2 All-Star Celebrity challenge.
The event is basically a competition where various celebrities, including NBA players like Wallace, countless musicians including Fat Joe and Jermaine Dupri, and a host of NFL players including the Jacksonville Jaguars' Keenan McCardell play Sega's latest basketball video game against each other in head-to-head competition.
Before the competition began Wallace and Fat Joe held a little informal practice, in which Joe, playing as the Mavericks, pretty much took the host—Wallace—to school. 'Sheed had the play of the game, though, when his got his Atlanta team to play some mean defense, resulting in a wicked Shareef Abdur-Rahim block of what looked like it was going be an incredible driving dunk by Michael Finley.
Wallace was playing at a disadvantage—he was multitasking the whole time. Not only was his mom whispering in his ear for part of it, but he also took about a dozen phone calls, even as he manipulated the controls well enough to execute a remarkable Dion Glover breakaway dunk.
He was losing badly at halftime, though, and decided he had seen enough. Instead of staying to lead his cyber-Hawks to a comeback, he conceded the game to Joe and got up to do some schmoozing.
There was some great schmoozing to be done, too—milling around in the crowd was the hilarious Philadelphia-native Tommy Too Smooth of HBO's Def Comedy Jam. Tommy is not the best at video games (when he was at the controls, in Wallace's words, "it was getting a little ugly.") He can mimic accents from all over the world though, and when he got killed on the video basketball court, he managed to deflect the criticism of the crowd with incredible British, Southern, and Australian accents.
Another person to watch in the crowd was the singing wonder Corey. This 99-pound eighth-grader from Atlanta isn't too imposing on a real basketball court, but he plays a nice game of NBA 2K2, and he's murder with the microphone—right there in front of the video game screen he belted out one of the most incredible melodies you'll ever hear. His Motown Single is called Hush Little Lady (which is good, because he's a little small for any other kind of lady just yet).
In the end, though, despite all the pro-ballers in the room, it was a couple of musicians who made it to the finals. The aptly-named Skillz beat recording artist Ben Zino in a came that was close enough to have the whole place screaming and yelling at various times.
The next person for Skillz to beat is Jermaine Dupri, the award-winning rapper and producer who won last year's competition. He won last year's competition, but opted to stay on the sidelines today. He promised to make a bold return, though, when the All-Star game is in his hometown of Atlanta next year.