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NEW ORLEANS, February 15, 2008 -- The 2008 McDonald's All-Star Celebrity Game, a.k.a. the "Battle in the Bayou," a.k.a. "Where Celebrities Hooping It Up Happens," brought 20 celebrities together at Jam Session Center Court in New Orleans on Friday night. Although all 20 were able to display their basketball talents to the raucous crowd and the world through NBA TV, only one could emerge with the coveted MVP Trophy. Tonight belonged to a Dallas Cowboys' star, wide receiver Terrell Owens, who took home the trophy after leading the New Orleans team to a 51-50 victory. Owens finished with a game-high 18 points despite playing in less than three quarters of action.
Owens, known as one of the NFL's best receivers to play in the past decade, made a fashionably late entrance to the game. He emerged from the locker room in the second quarter as a surpise addition to his team. He quickly made his presence felt, scoring a team-high seven points in the final two minutes of the first half. Owens, fresh off of an NFL playoffs appearance with the Cowboys, hadn't played in a while but had no problem getting into the flow.
"I play a lot of basketball, but I haven't played since the NFL season ended, so I was a little rusty," said Owens, while holding his trophy aloft for the sell-out crowd. "It was great to get a win here, we had a big block by Ruth Riley at the end."
Owens has most likely had some big games in the nearby Superdome playing on the gridiron for his day job, but wasn't really expected to turn in a breakout performance on the hardwood at NBA Jam Session. Even without taking home the MVP award, he was excited to be a part of NBA All-Star Weekend and hopes to return next season to claim another MVP for his resume.
"I didn't really expect it, I just wanted to come here and have fun, this is a great event for the city of New Orleans," Owens said. "It's great for all of these people to come out and support the NBA and I'm glad that I could be a part of it."
On the other side of the coin, former NFL superstar Deion Sanders played for the Hornets team that came up short in their quest for victory, and expressed his tongue-in-cheek displeasure at Owens' tardy arrival. However, he was happy that the presence of Owens made the game a bit more challenging for his team. (Perhaps a bit too challenging).
"I'm a little mad at T.O., he made the game more challenging," Sanders said afterwards. "If he hadn't played we would have blown them out."
Sanders closed with a vow: "I'll be back next year. Not only to win, but to take my MVP trophy back from T.O."