Tux 'N Tennies Star Power

Ken Rodriguez is a San Antonio native who covered his first Spurs game in 1981 for The Daily Texan, the University of Texas student newspaper. He spent 26 years in the newspaper business -- 21 of them covering sports -- before joining the marketing department at Our Lady of the Lake University in 2009. His Spurs.com column will appear every Wednesday.

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>> View photos of the Big 3, Coach Pop, and Sean Elliott at Tux 'N Tennies

Before she became a sports media star, Michelle Beadle interned for the Spurs and cheered for Sean Elliott, No 32 on the roster, No. 1 in her heart. On May 31 1999, Elliott took a pass from behind the three-point arc, his team trailing Portland in the waning seconds of Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

From her Alamodome seats, Beadle watched as Elliott lofted the shot on the tips of his toes. The ball fell through and San Antonio celebrated a Memorial Day Miracle.

Fourteen years later, Beadle returns to San Antonio to co-host the annual Tux ‘N Tennies gala with Elliott on Friday at the AT&T Center. The sold-out event, presented by SWBC and H-E-B, marks the 25th anniversary of Silver & Black Give Back, the Spurs’ youth serving nonprofit. It also marks a time for Beadle, former co-host of ESPN’s “Sports Nation,” to reminisce.

“I remember ‘99 was a shortened year,” says Beadle, now the co-host of “Crossover,” a sports and entertainment show on NBC Sports Network. “The town was just crazy. Sean was my favorite player. I used to be a stage manager for Spurs TV, making sure Sean got whatever he needed. I’m excited to do this event with him.”

Elliott and Beadle will serve as guides for a gala that will feature dinner, music and eye-popping silent and live auctions. One item up for bid: An opportunity to co-star (ok, make a cameo) in the award winning H-E-B commercials featuring Tim, Tony and Manu.

Other items up for bid include a trip-to-anywhere in the Continental U.S. aboard a Citation X jet (donated by Peter and Julianna Holt); a half-ton Dodge Ram, Crew Cab, 4x4 Truck (donated by NorthStar Dodge and Tim Duncan’s BlackJack Speed Shop); and a cameo appearance in a SWBC commercial featuring your favorite Spurs Sports & Entertainment personalities.

“Every year they have amazing auctions,” says Elliott, a veteran Tux ‘N Tennies host. “You can get just about anything. I’m shocked at some of the items they’ve had. Personal stuff from players. Pop has donated from his winery. Every year there’s a trip on Peter’s plane. I mean it’s pretty amazing.”

Elliott once bid successfully on a pair of first class airlines tickets for to France. “That was great,” he says. “I remember I looked online for what those tickets cost. And I got a steal. I was very proud of myself.”

He recalls the auction for a trip to Brazil the year Tiago Splitter arrived. “Pop came up and started bidding on it and got the crowd all riled up,” Elliott says.

Silver & Black Give Back supports two premier initiatives: the Spurs Youth Basketball League (SYBL) and Team Up Challenge, a youth led service program. More than 250,000 children have participated since SYBL’s inception. More than 2,000 coaches are trained annually to provide basketball and character development training.

“I enjoy hosting the event because the Spurs are about giving to the community,” Elliott says. “They do so much and go above and beyond when it comes to community relations. I used to make all kinds of appearances when I was a player. But now as an announcer, as one of the older guys, this is another way I give back. I try to make it an entertaining evening and encourage people to spend a little money.”

High bidders at the gala can win an evening of bowling with DeJuan Blair, Stephen Jackson and Gary Neal. They can dine with Frenchmen Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Nando De Colo at Tre Trattoria in Alamo Heights. They can enjoy a steak dinner with Manu Ginobili and Splitter at Ounce in the Stone Oak area.

In addition to the auctions, Mayer Hawthorne will provide live music at the event.

During the Spurs first championship season, Beadle worked under Mike Kickirillo, the team’s director of broadcasting. A couple of months ago, Kickirillo invited Beadle to co-host Tux ‘N Tennies with Elliott. “It was a no-brainer,” Beadle says.

She recalls reporting on Elliott when he received a donated kidney from his brother, Noel. She remembers the courage, the inspiration. “I love that he’s still there,” say Beadle, who went to high school in Boerne. “When I talk about the Spurs in different states, people don’t get it. But it’s a cool team to root for. I’ve been a fan since I was young. To be able to work for the team was great. Not every internship is that fun and exciting. But I really lucked out on that one.”