Baron Davis’ All-Star Kickball Game
With the NBA in lockout, players are looking for their next line of work, just in case things don’t get resolved before the 2011/12 season.
Baron Davis, currently with the Cleveland Cavaliers and formerly with the Los Angeles Clippers, may have found the next big thing . . . kickball!
On Sunday, at his alma mater Crossroads High School in Santa Monica, California, Baron helps his 2nd Annual All-Star Kickball Game to benefit his Rising Stars of America (RSOA) foundation.
Fellow players John Wall, Nick Young, Dorell Wright, Craig Smith, Sheldon Williams, Jarron and Jason Collins, Pooh Jeter and Samardo Samuels were on hand to lend support and compete for the coveted Golden Boot trophy (MVP).
Now if only the fans and national networks were ready to put their $4 billion into kickball, the NBA’s labor negotiations would be nothing than an afterthought.
Well, maybe not.
“Ultimately I think the long-term goal is to be able to provide kids with after-school programming and education and being able to reinforce education into our kids and our youth,” said Baron of RSOA. “[We're trying to] build model citizens, community leaders and people who are well-rounded individuals. I feel that if you start young, when they’re 10-years old, and start giving them those values and holding them accountable to them, they’ll emerge as positive adults.”
The goal of rising RSOA, from the organization’s website “is to utilize athletics as a means of teaching ethical, social values and life skills through mentorship and positive role modeling to today’s youth.”
Information on sponsorships, donations and volunteering can also be found at the above link.
Baron was in good spirits, working the crowd pregame with a goofy wig and what looked like a single Mickey Mouse glove.
After families and stars went through the barbeque and various activities and games, the kickball match began with Davis serving as MC, commentator and general play-by-play voice.
The rules were loose. Jarron Collins was clearly robbed of a double . . . inexplicably called out on a force at second despite no tag.
“It’s the nature of us as athletes to be competitive. We play to win we don’t play to lose,” said Jarron pregame but he let this one go in the spirit of the event.
Jarron’s gray team had already jumped out to an early lead the black squad was never going to overcome.
Dorell Wright was the most vocal before the game about snagging the MVP but his team couldn’t get out of the first half of the first inning without giving up four runs.
John Wall kicked a monstrous home and in the end left with the Golden Boot.
“Baron texted me and asked me could I come out,” said Wall. “I was going to be in LA, so I’ve come out to show some support.”
Dwyane Wade (accompanied by Gabrielle Union) made a late appearance to support Baron but didn’t play.
Also on-hand to support Davis and RSOA were Ramses Barden (NFL), James Blake (tennis), Angell Conwell (actress), Michael Ealy (actor), Fuzzy Fantabulous (Power 106), Kim Glass (volleyball), Denyce Lawton (actress), Ben Lyons (E! News, movie critic), Eva Marcille (actress, America’s Next Top Model winner and on a personal note, the one celebrity my wife was geeked to see), Candace Parker (WNBA), Ticha Penicheiro (WNBA), Ephraim Salaam (NFL), Dijon Thompson (NBA and UCLA), Tina Thompson (WNBA), Guy Torry (actor), Cash Warren (producer, former Crossroads teammate of Baron and perhaps most notably, husband to Jessica Alba) and Damien Wayans (actor).
“My grandmother always stressed the importance of education. When I wouldn’t make good grades, she’d take basketball away from me. It just made basketball important. It made education important,” said Baron. “She always challenged me to continue to learn and continue to grow. She was a Sunday school teacher, so she loved teaching people and it was something I started to develop as a kid, just loving going to go to school and loving being around people. I think education is a huge aspect, and what our country is really lacking at this point, as far as investment in our youth. I feel like myself and a couple other celebrities and NBA players, if we can come together and push that a little bit then we can make our country better.”
Sadly Baron’s grandmother Lela “Madea” Nicolson passed away in March but Davis is determined to carry on her message.
“I’m going back to school. I started back summer school at UCLA,” said Baron on what he’s been doing so far through the offseason. “My major is history. My minor is in film and television.”
It’s going to take some time to get his degree but it’s an important goal he intends to keep.
“I’m close but far,” said Davis. “I’m taking some time to work on a lot of other business endeavors that I do have and school. School is a full-time thing and I really dedicated my life to going back to school.”
Davis remains cautiously optimistic the season will begin on time.
“I hope so. I hope so,” said Davis. “It’s too early to decide but I hope that everything gets kind of sped ahead, full speed, and we’ll be able to get back to work.”
Some players are seriously considering playing overseas but at this point, that’s not an avenue that Baron is pursuing.
“Not right now,” said Baron.
In the meantime, he’s mentoring fellow Cavalier teammate, 6’9″ power forward Samardo Samuels, who went undrafted last year but played 37 games for the Cavs.
“I came out here working with him, working out and getting ready,” said Samuels. “[Baron] was like, ‘I want to reconstruct your whole game.’”
Davis was traded to the Cavaliers by the Los Angeles Clippers in late February for Mo Williams and a draft pick. That pick would turn into number one pick Kyrie Irving, despite only a 2.8% chance in the lottery.
The Cavaliers also took power forward Tristan Thompson with the fourth pick. The team also acquired Omri Casspi prior to the lockout, so there’s a lot of new talent for Davis to compete with.
It’s difficult to say when play will resume but Cleveland will have a better team than they did a year ago.
“We started losing 26 games in a row, being a part of that was rough but it’s motivation as I work out,” said Samuels. “It can’t happen again, whatever team I’m on. The more I get better, the more I can help my team.”
Like Baron, Samardo tried to stay optimistic, “I think there will be a season. I hope. I hope they resolve everything soon and we can move forward.”
The NFL ended their lockout on Monday but the NBA won’t get back into negotiations for at least a few weeks.
Some behind the scene sources said they can’t see resolution before opening night with one saying, “See you in January,” and another wondering if there would be any games played next season.
“That’s an issue that’s being addressed by a lot of different people right now,” said Jarron Collins. “Obviously us as NBA athletes want to get back and play basketball understand that this is a business and the owners, it’s their prerogative to lock us out and they chose to go that route so now we have to just wait and get back to the table and do some more negotiating.”
In the meantime, there’s always kickball . . .