GW’s Smith Center to host NBA, WNBA superstars

Two separate announcements were made Wednesday that promise to keep roundball lovers in the vicinity of 22nd and G streets happy throughout the usually basketball-free month of September.

Instead of the usual cast of gym rats, the Larry “Tex” Silverman Court is scheduled to spend the last two weeks in September hosting some of the greatest names in men’s and women’s basketball.

The Smith Center will host the inaugural All-Star Classic in the Capital, Saturday, Sept. 18, at 2 p.m. The All-Star Classic is an NBA-sanctioned charity basketball game benefiting The National Black Child Development Institute, Reading is Fundamental, and The Ronald H. Brown Foundation.

Players who have committed to the game include Mitch Richmond (Washington Wizards), Chris Webber (former Washington Wizard; Sacramento Kings), Steve Smith (Portland Trail Blazers), Marcus Camby (former UMass player and NCAA National Player of the Year; New York Knicks), Charlie Ward (former Heisman Trophy winner; Knicks), Ray Allen (star of the movie “He Got Game”; Milwaukee Bucks), Dikembe Mutombo (former Georgetown player, multiple-winner of NBA Defensive Player of the Year award; Atlanta Hawks), and Rod Strickland (Washington Wizards). Promoters of the game have confirmed that several other marquee players (some with local connections) are considering taking part in the event.

At halftime of the game, NBA players will compete in “two-ball” with fans selected through a promotion with SportsTalk 980 (the radio station that features former Georgetown coach John Thompson, who will be participating in the promotion of the charity game).

The Washington Wizards’ Dance Team and mascot are scheduled to appear at the game, and discussions are underway to bring in the GW Band and the two GW mascots. In addition, The GW Hatchet will be sponsoring a promotion during the event.

NBA players will visit schools the Friday before the game in conjunction with Reading is Fundamental, host a Youth Basketball Clinic, and will participate in an EA Sports Video Game Challenge. Plans are being made to bring one of the players to GW Friday for an autograph signing. More information on that and the rosters for the game will be available next week.

Tickets for the charity event start at $20 and $30. Tickets can be purchased from any TicketMaster outlet or by calling (202)-432-SEAT.

Coming on the heels of the NBA announcement, news arrived Wednesday that the U.S. Women’s National Basketball Team will practice at the Smith Center from Friday, Sept. 24, through Wednesday, Sept. 29.

The team will be practicing in preparation for the Hall of Fame game Oct. 2 in Hartford, Conn., where, the U.S. team will face a WNBA all-star team. The practices at GW will generally run two hours and will be closed to the public, although there is a possibility one may be opened, according to a press release from GW Sports Information.

The practices are as follows: Sept. 24 at 1 p.m., Sept. 25 at 12 p.m., Sept. 26 at 12 p.m., Sept. 27 at 5 p.m., Sept. 28 at 5 p.m. and Sept. 29 at 4 p.m.

The Women’s National Team is made up of 10 WNBA players and four-time Olympian Teresa Edwards. The WNBA players include Chamique Holdsclaw (Washington Mystics), Lisa Leslie (L.A. Sparks), Ruthie Bolton-Holifield (Sacramento Monarchs), Cynthia Cooper (Houston Comets), Yolanda Griffith (Monarchs), Nikki McCray (Mystics), Delisha Milton (Sparks), Katie Smith (Minnesota Lynx), Dawn Staley (Charlotte Sting), and Natalie Williams (Utah Starzz). The team is coached by Nell Fortner.

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