C-WEBB AND GUESTS TAKE OVER PLANET HOLLYWOOD FOR ANNUAL BADA BLING
It was another sensational weekend in Las Vegas as Chris Webber hosted his third annual Celebrity Bada Bling Weekend at Planet Hollywood. The usual cast of characters joined Webber, and a few new faces, who flocked to his event with nothing but love for the former NBA star.
The weekend activities kicked-off with the Celebrity Poker Tournement where C-Webb thanked everyone for coming out and refused to divulge what that band-aid was doing on his neck. The tables were packed with celebrities including Finesse Mitchell, Scott Pollard-who busted out early on-Ricky Davis, and Shawn Marion (above) who landed a rare straight flush during Texas Hold ‘Em but wasn’t able to capitalize on his win and busted out soon after. Eventually the event was won a woman for the second time in three years! Way to represent ladies…next year let’s hope Debbie (aka D2) can hang at the tables a bit longer and win us the coveted prize of a first-class private resort vacation package in Cabo San Lucas for four peeps.
That night, the madness continued when Webb hosted a lil get together at Prive. Now, I love me some Webber, but I can’t give much love to host hotel Planet Hollywood. The customer service sucks, they pumped hot air into the hotel-don’t know why-and they overbooked Prive causing tons of Webb’s invited guest to be turned away from the club. Thankfully, we were able to gain admission because we walked in with Webber…but otherwise we saw more than one invited A-list baller get turned away. Not good Planet Hollywood, not good. Once inside, the place seemed to be packed beyond capacity, as Webb had to share the venue with Shannon Elizabeth and yes-even the general public. The incompetent staff didn’t damper anyone’s spirit though, even with Webb’s VIP section jammed packed like a tin of sardines. The bubbly was flowing, the ladies were dancing and the men were looking super fine as we all enjoyed a killer performance from Too Short who rocked the crowd.
Saturday night was the Soiree, hosted by Webb and MC’ed by Mark Curry and Finesse Mitchell. Love Curry but gotta give mad, mad love to Finesse for his fresh dose of humor and irresistible charm. I say its time for Curry to pass the torch to Finesse for next years event…several highlights from the Soiree included a unbelievable performance from 7-time Grammy Award winning goddess and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Gladys Knight. Sister killed it up there and even came out for her encore wearing fuzzy slippers while inviting guests to dance on stage as she took that ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ (I still get goose bumps thinking about it)….
In addition to the live music and auction (which raised mad amounts of cash for Webbs foundation) they also brought in a celebrity hypnotist. After pulling volunteers from the audience, the wanna-be-hypnotized group was led into a private room to see if they were susceptible to being ‘hypno’ed’. One of my spies in the room told me that when Matt Barnes ‘went under’ he was asked to shoot hoops-apparently he did while screaming “Golden State Warriors in the playoffs!”…The visual gave us a great laugh and although Matty wouldn’t confirm or deny that this actually happened-he did chuckle when I inquired. When the group came back into the ballroom, Barnes had already been kicked out of the bunch, so we didn’t get to see him on stage, but the people who did participate had us rolling on the floor as they were hypnotized and told to act like Spice Girls, professional ballet dancers, pianists, James Brown…one woman stole the show when she was told to sing Aretha Franklins ‘Respect’ and sang so well we wanted her to remain hypnotized all night and keep singing. After the Soiree, Webber went all out and rented Koi for all of us to get crazy. Open bar, scandalous behavior and hot, sweaty fun was had by all- as we danced on tabletops and sofas until the wee hours of the morning.
While the event was off-the-hook, we can’t forget what the weekend was really about. Chris Webber and his big heart. Everyone, and I mean everyone I spoke to had nothing but love for Webb. And trust me, they weren’t blowing smoke up the media ass-they were sincere and it was incredibly heart-warming to speak to all of Webbers supporters.
One of the first to arrive on the red carpet was Boston Celtic’s babe Scot Pollard. Pollard was at the first Bada Bling and missed last years due to the birth of his baby. I asked him what brings him out to Webbers event every year.
“I’m being totally serious here, people know me for joking” he said, “But seriously, Chris is quite a giver, he’s a gentlemen, he’s a wonderful humanitarian, he’s a wonderful person to be around, he asked me to come out here three years in a row and it’s an honor to be involved with this event.”
And I had to ask the big guy about his own foundation.
“My own foundation is the Pollard Family Foundation” he said, “Have you ever heard of it?”
I replied yes because dah-that’s what I do, but I really hadn’t heard of it. “Who or what causes are the beneficiaries?” I asked.
“My family” he said with that smooth-half-smile, “The Pollard family. They ask me for money and I give it to them.”
Next up on my radar was the adorable Finesse Mitchell. Finesse has also been at Webbers event every year, along with his fiancée Jessica. We bonded the first year and obviously, he had good reason to come back again. I asked the standard ‘What brings you out here every year’ question.
“Well, I lost my shades one year and I hoped this really kind lady would return them to me and she did, so I wanted to fly back out here to personally thank her.” (You are very welcome Finesse)
The ex-SNL star is a big giver in the charity world so I had to ask about which other events he supports.
“It depends on what city I’m in,” he said with that adorable smile, “Some favorites-depends on what city, you know if I’m in New York and Donald Trump has something I’ll go, and anything Lorne Michaels askes me to be at, West Coast, let’s see, anything to do with a casino-I’ll be there. Chris and I have been good friends for four years now and he’s one of my favorites.”
Someone who recently showed up on my charity radar is actor/comedian Terry Crews and his wife Rebecca. I’ve seen them at more than one event and had to get the scoop.
“First of all I’m from Michigan so Chris and I go back away” he told me, “I met him at a BET event and he said I should come check it out-I’m more into supporting people that I know are good, that stand for something and I’m gonna lend my name out and help Chris in anyway I can, Chris is one of the best. He’s just the greatest guy. Whatever I can do.”
In terms of his own charitable efforts, and that of his wife, Crews told me: “We give big time in our church, Faith Community Church in West Covina (?), we’re really supportive of what they’re doing” he said, “I feel right now in my career, where I’m at, it’s the best thing to do.”
When I asked if he felt celebrities have a responsibility to give back he blew me away with his honesty. “We’ve been blessed, and people do look up to us (celebrities) it’s actually more blessed to give than receive, you just feel better giving, and when you have a lot its always great to make someone feel better, give them what they need.”
And then I understood why Terry has been married to Rebecca for 14 years. She pulled me aside to add to her husbands quote.
“I think everybody is called to give,” she told me as I got goose bumps, “It doesn’t matter what income level you are at, when you can help someone-its beautiful.”
And most of us in attendance gave her the “Best Dressed ‘Award’ for the night, as well as the classiest lady in the room.
Someone else not be ignored for their humanitarian efforts is Dallas Maverick Juwan Howard.
“Webs like a brother to me,” he said softly as I resisted the urge to lay one on him, “He’s got a popular event like this where he’s trying to reach out and help less fortunate families, ask me to come here no problem, I actually asked to be here, I was here the first year but missed last year because I was in Africa to support Dikembe Mutombo’s Foundation.”
Did someone say Dikembe?
“I tell you,” he said, “It was breathtaking, a great experience, an eye opening one, and not only that- I would say it humbled me. I really, really encourage everyone to take time out and schedule a trip if the finances are there, take a trip to Africa and see it because its very humbling.”
Howard started his own foundation about 14 years ago.
“I used to have events all the time,” he said, “but it’s a lot of work so now I passed the torch to Webb, he’s does it right.”
And what makes Juwan Howard’s heart go pitter-patter?
“Education” he said, “That’s really important to me, its really close to my heart, so I’m heavily involved with the educational component, inspiring kids to learn more, read more, to achieve their goals because as we all know education lasts a lifetime.” Indeed
Philadelphia 76ers blonde blushing beast, Shavlik Randolph explains why he keeps coming back to Bada Bling every year.
“Chris Webber, plain and simple. Just trying to support his cause and what he’s trying to do, trying to be here for him,” he said.
And again, gotta ask about his own foundation?
“I don’t have a foundation but I have a lot of charity stuff I do back home in North Carolina” he said with dimples, “ Obviously not on the same scale as Chris Webber, but I’m trying to do my part and I really admire what Chris is doing, he gives us young guys something to strive for.”
And Shavlik gives us young girls something to strive for, no?
“I have a Shavlik Randolph camp” he explained, “All the money goes to various charities of my choice, it’s a way for me to give back to the community and to see the way that Webber is doing it- he’s just such an amazing person I could not say enough good things. He’s for real.”
Finally, WNBA legend Ruthie Bolton had all eyes on her as she strutted through the event looking like a ballin-babe. I had to talk to her about the recent infamous bench-clearing brawl between the Detroit Shock and LA Sparks.
“This is actually the first time I’ve actually took a stance about it,” she said, “I think it’s unfortunate it happened, will it make or break the league, no, I think that sometimes players, you know, a coach can catch you off guard or something.”
And what about the suspension?
“The suspension,” she paused, “What bothers me the most is that the player from Detroit got hurt and is out for the rest of the season, that’s the thing that bothers me. I hope this could be a learning experience for a lot of players. I think the WNBA has great players and some of the- obviously- best players in the league were involved in that but I think it’s just something that happened,” said Bolton. “I think a lot of time in sports there’s a little bit of heated stuff early on in the game, maybe that’s what was going on here, coaches need to recognize that early in the game, sometimes they have to cut it off early.”
In terms if being role models?
“You know what, they’re good players, we wanna really represent women in a positive way for the kids, to be good role models.” She said, “I know some guys they loved it, they said ‘oh it was great women fighting’, but you know what, we connect with the community, imagine if you see if I was involved in it and I go to a school to talk about sportsmanship, of course it ain’t gonna have the same impact.”
And about Rick Mahorn? Would the “Lisa Leslie push” been such a big deal if he were a woman?
“No” she said quickly, “It wouldn’t, because he’s male. And looking at it, you know, I don’t know if he actually push-pushed, but I think because he is male, I think that’s why they made a big deal out of it. But I’m glad she’s (Leslie) okay and I actually texted Leslie afterwards and said ‘hey you know I saw what happened’ and I think hopefully this can move forward and maybe some people will start watching the WNBA games, any publicity is good. But we want kids to look up to us, I talk about being role models, I talk about the WNBA and about women being role models, so it’s about learning from your mistakes and moving on.”
Thank you Chris Webber for being a fantastic role model for all of us. Thank you for opening your heart, helping others, and doing it all while throwing one hell of a fundraiser. Your humanitarian efforts and love for the kids makes you one of the best guys out there regardless of what happens at 1:30 AM. See ya next year my friend…
Also in attendance were Rip Hamilton, Baron Davis, Moses Malone, Ricky Davis, Brian Shaw, and Joakim Noah, among many, many others.
All photos are posted on the ‘Event Photos’ page..and gotta direct you to another Bada Bling write up on TSF, Mizzo killed it as usual.
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As always, thanks for reading. Delinda Lombardo