The NBA’s Celebrity Game is one of the main attractions during All-Star Weekend, as the light-hearted contest never fails to serve its purpose and entertain fans.
The 2014 edition of the game should be no different, especially now that we know who will be on hand for the event after NBA.com released the full list of participants and coaches.
This year’s crop of talent includes a two-time MVP, various actors and actresses, a Victoria’s Secret model and more.
Let’s take a look at which stars made the cut, who will be coaching the teams, where you can catch the action, make a prediction on the MVP and more.
Celebrity Game Info (via NBA.com)
Start Time: Friday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, La.
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Participants and Head Coaches
|Kevin Hart||Two-Time Celeb Game MVP, Comedian/Actor|
|Erin Heatherton||Victoria’s Secret Model, Actress|
|Nick Cannon||"America's Got Talent" Host|
|Mike Greenberg||ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" Host|
|Mike Golic||ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" Host|
|Kristen Ledlow||NBA TV's "NBA Inside Stuff" co-host|
|Jesse Williams||“Grey’s Anatomy” Actor|
|Columbus Short||“Scandal” Actor|
|Michael B. Jordan||“That Awkward Moment” Actor|
|Arne Duncan||U.S. Secretary of Education|
|Bruce Bowen||ESPN NBA Analyst, Three-Time NBA Champion|
|Terrence Jenkins||"E! News" Anchor|
|Stan Verrett||ESPN Anchor|
|Skylar Diggins||Tulsa Shock WNBA Star|
|Elena Delle Donne||Chicago Sky WNBA Star|
|Bill Simmons||“NBA Countdown” Host, Grantland Founder|
|Jalen Rose||“NBA Countdown”, Retired 13-year NBA Veteran|
*An assistant coach will also be selected via Sprint's Assistant Coach For A Day Sweepstakes. Fans can enter to win a trip to New Orleans and serve as an assistant for either the East or West team.
There are a lot of familiar faces participating in this year’s edition of the Celeb Game, highlighted by back-to-back MVP Kevin Hart.
Arne Duncan, a dominating 6’5” force who is the Secretary of Education from the Obama administration, will also be back after leading the game in scoring the past two years.
Nick Cannon, Terrence Jenkins, Jesse Williams and Bruce Bowen all have at least one Celeb Game under their belt also and will be able to exercise some veteran savvy in the contest.
Notable newcomers include Erin Heatherton, a 5’11” 24-year-old who could use that height to her advantage in this game, and Columbus Short, a 5’10” actor and singer that will be looking to show the world he can ball.
It’s definitely a solid group of former athletes and television personalities with whom fans will be familiar.
Hopefully NBA Countdown hosts Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons do a great job of picking balanced teams, as the last two Celebrity Games quickly got out of hand and became one-sided affairs.
MVP Prediction: Kevin Hart
Despite his small stature, Hart has been a dominating presence in the NBA All-Star Weekend Celebrity Game.
The actor and comedian helped lead the West to a victory over the East in blowout fashion last year, chipping in five points on the way to a 58-38 victory.
Even though teammates Duncan and Jenkins, both of whom are participating again this year, each scored 11 points, it was Hart who hoisted the Most Valuable Player trophy at the end of the contest.
Duncan did not appear too miffed about Hart being voted the MVP, telling NBA.com at the time: "I just want to win, just want to win. I can't win a popularity contest."
Hart also took home the game’s highest honor in 2012, despite being ejected for using profanity to object to a call with his team up 36 points at the end of a blowout contest. The 5’2” superstar pledged to drop 40 points before the game tipped off, but finished with a mere eight points and six assists.
Duncan was also the top scorer in that contest, as he piled in 17 points in an 86-54 win.
Will Hart win a third straight MVP award?
It seems that it doesn’t matter how well the other participants perform, because when it comes to voting for MVP in this contest, Hart is the clear-cut choice for fans. Terrell Owens is the only other two-time MVP in the game’s history, which dates back to 2004 but didn't start crowning an MVP until 2005.
The diminutive comedian told Jerry L. Barrow of The Urban Daily that he's going to hang up his sneakers if he earns a third straight MVP award: “This year will be my last year. If I can get a third MVP I’m done. I think this year they’re going to throw a lot of people at me to stop me, that’s why I’m in the gym now.”
Expect Hart to go out with a bang and accomplish that unprecedented achievement in 2014.