SIR CHARLES BARKLEY AND BUDDIES TEE OFF FOR CHARITY
Charles Barkley, Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson, Michael Strahan, Ozzie Smith, George Brett, Clyde Drexler, Jason Kidd, George Gervin, Kenny Smith, Mario Lemieux, Brett Hull, Grant Fuhr, Pierre Larouche…all of ‘em in one place for the entire weekend? Indeed. The Pro Sports Team Challenge issued a call to all the above named hotties to take part in a charity golf-event to determine which sport has the best golfers. After watching ‘em tee off, take bunker shots, and hit outta the rough for three days, I’ve got a pretty good idea of who I’d want to be on my team…but mums the word on which team came out victorious- you’ll have to watch the broadcast on Fox Sports Net June 28 and 29 unless an unscrupulous member of the media decides to leek the info…
The players were competing for a total purse of $250,000 for charity. The USO was earmarked by Team Basketball in efforts to help comfort our hard working military. Team Football didn’t stop smiling all weekend as they hoped to make a hefty donation to Operation Kids. Team Hockey, led by cancer survivor Mario Lemieux, chose Hockey Fights Cancer as their beneficiary, and finally, Team Baseball was swinging away for the Baseball Assistance Team in efforts to help the families of players who have fallen on tough times.
The desert heat was brutal, but you would never know it by watching these guys. Dressed sharp, in Team shirts clearly marked with their charity-choice logo across the front, the hotties didn’t seem remotely phased by the sun as they smiled, chatted with each other, signed autographs for fans, and focused on winning big bucks for their chosen charities.
Commissioner Charles Barkley was having a blast, despite the fact that the event was held at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino- yes, at a casino. But the big guy was quick to address the issue during the VIP party: “It flat out sucks to be in a casino and not gamble” he said, “I thought I was going to break out in a rash last night. I can’t gamble for four years so its really gonna suck the next four years of my life. I guess there’s going to be a lot of money for my family to fight over when I keel over one day.” I should mention at this point that Martin Short was the ‘entertainment’ for the night…but general consensus was that Sir Charles stole the show from Short-who’s jokes fell a bit short (pun intended) and Barkley gave a deliciously wicked speech to the poolside crowd…More than one great quote crept outta his mouth, but perhaps the most memorable? “Please be careful as you drink and drive ’cause that’s a very dangerous thing. You know they got a bunch of old people up here (in Palm Springs) so you have to factor that in when you’re drinking and driving.”
Several more memorable quotes are locked in the vault-as they came during a sound check while Fox Sports was preparing to interview him. I do believe that the reporter’s face will give you an indication of what Sir Charles was up to… The VIP party was awesome, to say the least. Massive shout out to MP for taking great care of this girl and working his ass off to ensure that rouge PR people and paparazzi-type photogs were properly yanked and spanked…he did a phenomenal job and should be commended for it…so, back to the party…the first stop for me, of course, was the bar. Standing next to me was ‘Hercules’ himself, Mr. Kevin Sorbo. Admittedly, I don’t know Hercules from a hole in the ground, but I do know Sorbo has been at almost every charity event I’ve attended (and I do believe that he finally remembers my name)…but the reason I mention him is because he is kicking-butt in the charity world and couldn’t have been more sincere in his efforts. Sorbo’s charity is World Fit for Kids and he’s just earned a major nod from the Governator for his Foundations work. Sorbo didn’t hesitate to give me an interview for Look to the Stars, so a big thank you to him for taking the time to speak with me and for all his hard work at helping thousands of kids in Los Angeles. (The interview will be posted this week and I will most definitely let ya know when it is)…
Also at the VIP Party was Dennis Haysbert, aka Snake Doc from one of my all time favorite shows, the ‘Unit.’ As usual, I had to give him a massive hug. “I adore you” seeped outta my mouth before I could duct tape it shut. “Bless you,” he said after taking the time to indulge in my photo request. Seriously, my list of ‘must-squeeze celebrities’ has dwindled to almost nothing. Thank you Dennis Haysbert from your number one Betty Blue in So-Cal.
For all ya hockey fans out there, try this on for size…the after party…Team Hockey is there…keep in mind that I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to knowing most of the athletes I meet. I know names, what sport they play and their charities…I’d like to blame the Vodka for my blurred thinking, but I cant because I say stupid things even when I’m sans Vodka…no ones perfect right? Anyway, either I forgot or didn’t know that Mario Lemieux played with the Penguins for 11 years before he bought the team in 1999. So what did I do? I asked him which team he wanted to win the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Penguins or the Red Wings…yeah, I did. Thankfully, everyone laughed as hard as I did. Pretty sure Mario won’t forget me anytime soon…I did ask Lemieux how he felt about Tiger Woods’ ‘not caring about hockey’ comments, and he gracefully replied: “I think Tiger was just caught off guard and I didn’t take any offense to it.” All in all, he couldn’t have nicer- the same goes for the entire Team Hockey-especially Grant Fuhr who is not only adorable but signed just about every autograph the fans hit him up for. Fuhr also saved me from heat stroke…a shortage of golf carts led to long walks around the greens, but Fuhr and his buddy politely picked up this red headed hitchhiker and whisked her into the shade.
Gotta give some love to homeboy LaDainian Tomlinson as well. I think he’s finally warming up to me and I couldn’t have been more proud of the Charger babe who graciously stopped for all the young LT fans sporting his jersey and chasing him with Sharpies. Ain’t nothing gives me the warm-fuzzies like watching athletes make some kids day. Well done LT.
More love going to the super-smooth and always cool Clyde Drexler, who I’m awarding with the ‘Best Smelling Athlete” prize. His fresh cologne was lingering in the air each time I spoke with him and I couldn’t resist giving him a Delinda-squeeze. Second place for best smelling? LaDainian, who exited the elevator prior to me getting in…don’t know what cologne he had on, but I’ve never inhaled as deeply as I did in that empty elevator in hopes that D2 could smell it all the way in No-Cal…Im also gonna give out a ‘Never Stopped Smiling’ award to John Elway. Seriously, for three days he had a grin plastered across his face- if his ball landed in the sand, he was smiling…if ten kids rushed him for an autograph, he was smiling…if other players tried to shake his concentration, he was smiling…wish I could have snapped a photo of he and his wife in the pool, floating around with a beer in one hand, smiling. But hey- I got ethics and wouldn’t have dared gone pool-side paparazzi on Elway, Jason Kidd, Kenny Smith or any others who were chillen by the pool trying to cool off after a long day on the greens.
Aside from this being a massive endorsement for the charities, four lucky people won a sweepstakes, which awarded them an all-expense paid trip to the event, including a spot in the Pro-Am. Two of the winners, Matt Lesage and Brandon Akey, sat down and spoke to us about their experience. Both these guys won by playing on-line poker. Lesage was inspired Team Hockey, as he is a big hockey fan. “I played with Pierre Larouche in the Pro-Am,” he told me, “Mario Lemieux, Pierre, Grant, all those guys were so nice. Pierre is a great guy and I’ve got nothing but good things to say about him’” he said, “At first though, I was a bit skeptical on how the athletes were going to act towards someone like me, not being a big golfer, but they were all class acts and they couldn’t have been nicer. Really top notch guys, all of ‘em.” While Lesage was hyped to play golf, he was also keen on the fact that this was for charity. “I heard Team Hockey talking about Hockey Fights Cancer, and a lot of people in my family had cancer so it made me really happy to be part of it. I just had a blast, couldn’t have had a better time. All these guys inspire me.” The other winner, 20 year-old Brandon Akey, came all the way from Ohio to play with the big boys. His story made me proud to be part of this event. “I’m only 20 years old and this is only the second time I’ve been out of Ohio, the last time I took a trip was to Florida when I was a kid and suddenly I’m here playing golf with these guys.” Brandon played in the Pro-Am with basketball legend, George Gervin. “He was such a good guy. Whenever we hit bad shots he was really cool and supportive, he said ‘that’s all right, we’re a team, its like basketball.’”
Another participant, who perhaps best captures the spirit of the event by making her own tax-rebate-check donation to the USO, will be interviewed for the article on Look to the Stars. It’s an amazing story of generosity and kindness and I can’t wait to share it with the world.
Four more shout outs here…first, Jay Flemma from the Golfspace for falling in the water, walking the entire course for four days in the heat, and keeping most of us engaged with his linguistic skills…Tony Korologos, perhaps one of the best (golf) bloggers alive, spent most of his time blogging live on his Hooked on Golf Blog…and provided us with this fantastic video…check out their stuff for detailed coverage of the action on the greens. And also Debbie Dahmer of Big Break III was awesome and spends more time than I do chasing hot golfers and covering their charity events.
It’s not too late to donate to the charities involved, visit the Team Challenge website, sign up as a ProCoach and $1.00 goes to the charity of your choice. If I can get even one of you to donate, my weekend was well worth it.
All photos from the event are linked up. Please go to the ‘Event Photos’ link at the top of the page.
As always, thanks for reading.