Feb. 17 -- Everything I needed to know I learned at the McDonald's NBA All-Star Celebrity Game Presented by 2K Sports Friday night at Jam Session.
Seriously. Here's what l discovered:
Nelly and Eva Longoria commiserate at the Celeb game. (Ronald Martinez/NBAE/Getty)
People go nuts for free stuff. Doesn’t matter if it's just a towel that doesn't do anything but get waved around in the air. They'll get as enthused by that as much as they will at the sight of Nelly or the Miami Heat dancers. The fans were out of their seats when these towels were being thrown from dancers on the floor into the crowd. Everyone wanted one, young and old alike.
2. A mascot getting wrapped in packaging tape by other mascots, then losing his balance and falling to the floor with a thud is always funny.
3. Human beings are wired to compete. It doesn't matter how minor the competition is, we want to win. Badly.
Don't believe me? When Access Hollywood host Tony Potts of H-Town jammed his finger in the first quarter, it didn't matter that his Rockets jersey was a replica; they way he played through pain was real. Pride took over and he tugged it back into place. He didn't even look in the direction of coach Eva Longoria of Desperate Housewives or general manager Stephen A. Smith of ESPN. He just played on.
And that charge actor Chris Meloni took, called "blocking" by the officials and a "train wreck" and "assault and battery" by Clutch City coach Queen Latifah? It was as bruising as Meloni's "Mean Gene" character in Wet Hot American Summer.
These teams wanted to win. Even if it wasn't the most beautiful game you've ever seen (the basketball, not the participants).
H-Town shook off a three-point second period by scoring more points in the third quarter (13) than the entire first half (11) and cut Clutch City's lead to four.
Clutch City general manager Greg Anthony of ESPN had a heart-to-heart yell with his troops, imploring them to bring the energy they delivered in the first half. That's when the eventual victors perimeter defense took over. So much so that we saw the first wide left ever in the history of basketball. Nick Cannon's three-point attempt missed the entire goal by several feet. It was a sight to see.
"We were a little erratic," said Smith following the 37-33 loss. "We turned the ball over a little too much, took some ill-advised shots, playing in a hole all game long, and eventually you can't pull yourself out of that.
"At the end of the day we gave it a good effort. We did what we could. We made it very competitive. Couldn't get over the hump because we couldn't hit perimeter shots."
Rapper Nelly, named MVP with a game-high 14 points and 12 rebounds, hit H-Town's only two three-pointers. In fact, Nelly did it all. While he was on the court, his tracks blasted over the speaker system, energizing an already enthusiastic crowd at Jam Session's Center Court to bob to the beats. With 48.7 seconds remaining In the fourth quarter, the St. Louis native even hit a 25-foot trey that cut the lead to four and looked like it would give H-Town a chance at a win.
However, the play of the night undoubtedly goes to Entertainment Tonight's Kevin Frazier. The Clutch City center grabbed a piece of paper in front of a computer at the scorer's desk in the third quarter, read it as one of the operators sat speechless, and then proceeded to spit out his gum and throw it away.
"Did you need that?" I asked the operator.
"That was our password," he chuckled in disbelief.