Presenting Our Dream Teams For The NBA All-Star Celebrity Game

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This is the first in a new series where Danger Guerrero and Martin Rickman email each other about important sports issues and then publish those emails. It’s not a new story form by any means, and admittedly it’s kind of lazy, but it is fun, and we like to have fun, so we hope you enjoy it.

Martin: It’s almost that time, Danger. It’s almost my favorite weekend of the year, NBA All-Star weekend. A lot of people think the whole spectacle is eye-roll worthy, but All-Star weekend gives us so many amazing moments, it’s hard to pick the best of them. Kevin Hart yells about stuff, one time we had a lightsaber battle with Charles Barkley, Shaq is doing stuff, and of course, there’s the celebrity game.

We’ve grown accustomed to certain performances over the years (remember Bieber balling out?), and this year they took a new format, with Drake and Hart coaching the teams in a sort of Ryder Cup scenario.

Jason Sudeikis, Michael B. Jordan, Win Butler of Arcade Fire (!!!) The Property Brothers, and Rick Fox are all playing this year, but I want to go one step further on this. And I know you’re the person to help me.

If we were to make a Dream Team (a Mount Rushmore, if you will) of Celebrity All-Star Game participants, who would it be? It doesn’t have to be people who have played in the game. I just want to build the best possible team of celebrities we possibly can.

I guess the first thing is to set the rules. Do we want this based on talent? Entertainment factor? Some mixture of the two? If you just get good basketball players, it’s not a fun game. It’s just another All-Star game. I’m inclined to lean more toward mixing it up a bit.

Let’s draft. I’ll give you the first pick because that’s just the kind of guy I am.

DG: Round 1, Pick 1 – Vin Diesel, Power Forward

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Now, I hear you, hypothetical naysayer. You’re saying But Vin Diesel is like 5-foot-10 and you’ve never even seen him play basketball. Well, allow me to answer these concerns in turn. Irrelevant, and irrelevant. First of all, Charles Barkley was like 6-foot-4 and played power forward in the NBA surrounded by giants, so Vin is plenty tall enough for a celebrity game. And I do not care if he is skilled. If he is, great. If not, he can be my Oakley/Mahorn enforcer-type who protects my shooters and discourages drives down the lane with a stern look and gravel-throated mumble. I just need him on the squad.

But why? you interrupt again. Because of LEADERSHIP, that’s why. It’s like you’ve never seen a Fast & Furious movie. Hell, I might make him player/coach and have the whole team repel from the Jumbotron inside souped-up neon Hondas that are shooting flames out the exhaust. Set the tone.

Martin: Round 1, Pick 2 – The Rock, Power Forward

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It’s the only logical choice. If you play Vin, I play Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. If we’re muscling down in the post, I like my odds based on the fight between The Rock and Vin Diesel in Fast Five. They can beat each other up and essentially negate each other’s skillsets. Plus, The Rock is already one heck of an athlete. He played football at Miami and he’s one of the best pro wrestlers of all-time. I like my chances.

As a natural born leader, and a guy who oozes charisma, he can take any criticism that comes our team’s way and deflect it with ease. This will allow the less bulldog-like players to really shine. Every team needs a The Rock, but only one team (mine) is lucky enough to have one.

DG: Round 2, Pick 1 – Cam’ron, Shooting Guard

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As the legend goes, Cam’ron was a legit high school basketball player. One of his teammates was Ma$e. They beat Stephon Marbury’s team in the early ’90s. He’s not as young as he used to be, but none of us are. This pick also increases the chances that my team will wear all-pink fur uniforms. A great value in Round 2.

Martin: Round 2, Pick 2 – Nelly, Shooting Guard

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I was tempted to go Master P here, but I have worries he won’t care enough about winning this game. Nelly on the other hand? As a staple of the celebrity all-star game circuit, Nelly not only will care, but will probably end up playing so hard he gets a concussion. Nobody has more heart than Nelly, as evidenced by his hit single “Heart of a Champion.” Nobody can drop down harder for loose balls, as evidenced by his hit song “Flap Your Wings.” Nobody will stomp harder, as evidenced by his hit song “Air Force Ones.” Nobody will get hotter from three, as evidenced by his hit song “Hot in Herre.” Nobody will get to the rim over and over, as evidenced by his (okay this one is bad) song “Over and Over.”

Mostly, I just want to see Nelly lace it up one more time and get after it. This is his celebrity swan song, and he deserves the spotlight.

DG: Round 3, Pick 1 – Britney Spears, Point Guard

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Three reasons:

1) Britney Spears loves basketball.

2) Britney Spears is actually pretty good at basketball. Disregard the missed layups. Focus on the jump shot form, especially toward the end. I have this video bookmarked.

3) I think she would like the fuzzy pink uniforms Cam’ron will bring for the team.

Martin: Round 3, Pick 2 – Justin Timberlake, Point Guard

Justin Timberlake
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Being that my team is all about matchups, I’m giving myself one more good one: Britney’s kryptonite. Timberlake is a hoophead and part owner of the Memphis Grizzlies, and his dance moves indicate he’s got all sorts of athleticism. Plus, he’s no stranger to the hardwood.

Britney really will be crying him a river when JT starts raining Js all over the place.

DG: Round 4, Pick 1 – Montell Jordan, C

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Do I have any proof that ’90s rap/R&B artist Montell Jordan is or ever was good at basketball? No, I do not. But I do know — for a fact — that he stands 6-foot-8. That is incredibly tall for a celebrity. Can’t teach height. Suit him up.

Martin: Round 4, Pick 2 – Jason Segel, SF

There are countless occasions when Segel’s basketball prowess has been mentioned, as early as his Freaks and Geeks days. He was even a high school teammate of Jason Collins.

Per Maxim:

“He actually won a dunk contest in high school, if you can believe it,” Collins told an incredulous Simmons. “Seegs, I’ve got your back on that. I’m the witness, testifying to your athleticism!”

When asked if he was something like Mark Madsen, Collins teammate at Stanford, Collins replied with a laugh, “He was like a low budget Mark Madsen.”

“But he knew how to entertain the crowd, and you know what, he hustled. And he was a great teammate.”

Plus, we know Segel will keep the energy level high and help pick his teammates up when they’re down. I’m going all-in on chemistry here. I think this will make a big difference.

DG: Round 5, Pick 1 – George Clooney, SF

George Clooney
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From Esquire‘s 2013 profile of him:

He has other houses. He has one, famously, on Lake Como, in Italy, and he has built another in Cabo. In this, he is not so much of a throwback — after all, Leonardo DiCaprio has a house in Cabo. Indeed, Clooney and DiCaprio once ran into each other in Cabo and struck up a conversation based on their common interest in basketball. They each have ongoing games, and their ongoing games have attained a celebrity of their own. Clooney suggested they might play someday. DiCaprio said sure, but felt compelled to add, “You know, we’re pretty serious.”

They played at a neighborhood court. “You know, I can play,” Clooney says in his living room. “I’m not great, by any means, but I played high school basketball, and I know I can play. I also know that you don’t talk shit unless you can play. And the thing about playing Leo is you have all these guys talking shit. We get there, and there’s this guy, Danny A I think his name is. Danny A is this club kid from New York. And he comes up to me and says, ‘We played once at Chelsea Piers. I kicked your ass.’ I said, ‘I’ve only played at Chelsea Piers once in my life and ran the table. So if we played, you didn’t kick anybody’s ass.’ And so then we’re watching them warm up, and they’re doing this weave around the court, and one of the guys I play with says, ‘You know we’re going to kill these guys, right?’ Because they can’t play at all. We’re all like fifty years old, and we beat them three straight: 11–0, 11–0, 11–0.”

Clooney is a killer. Gotta have him on my team.

Martin: Round 5, Pick 2 – Rick Ross, C

Rick Ross celebrity all-star
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My team is totally winning this thing.

So, the final teams are as follows:

Danger: Vin Diesel, Cam’ron, Britney Spears, Montell Jordan, George Clooney

Martin: The Rock, Nelly, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segel, Rick Ross

Alright, let’s play some basketball.