CELEBS HOOP–Common, second from right, looks for a shot between, from left, Ryen Russillo, Josh Hutcherson and Ne-Yo (3) during the second half of the NBA All-Star celebrity basketball game Feb. 15, 2013, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
by Kristie Rieken
AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — Usain Bolt joined the East team in the All-Star celebrity game to have a little fun.
He had no idea the West team would take the game so seriously.
Five-foot-2 comedian Kevin Hart took most valuable player honors in leading the West to a 58-38 victory over the Bolt and the East on Friday night.
Afterward the Jamaican sprinter said he was surprised by the intensity of the West team coached by Houston All-Star James Harden
“We got beat bad, but their team was much more serious,” Bolt said.
Bolt did show his athleticism a few times, most notably on a two-handed dunk in the first half.
Hart challenged Bolt to a race during a timeout where the pair each had to dribble and make two layups, and shocked the crowd by winning.
“Kevin Hart is a pleasure,” said Bolt, who used a limited edition Gatorade squeeze bottle during the game. “I watch all of his standup comedy shows, so for me it was a great honor to get to do that with him.”
He acknowledged before the game that he could dunk well, but that his other basketball skills were lacking. He said he’d like to play a different sport when his track career is done.
“I’m more of a better soccer player than a basketball player, so I definitely want to try soccer,” he said.
Bolt said he was most impressed with Hart, who stole the show with his antics and won MVP for the second straight year, despite being the smallest player on either team.
Hart, the star of BET’s Real Husbands of Hollywood, talked a ton of trash before the game, and continued running his mouth and mocking the opposition throughout the game. He even took a shot at East coach and Oklahoma City All-Star Russell Westbrook’s camouflage pants.
“I could have went the NBA route, let’s just get that out of the way,” Hart joked before the game. “I chose to do comedy just because it’s fun. I didn’t want to play basketball. But if I want to I can easily do the same thing these guys do on a daily basis. It’s not that serious.”
The game also featured a number of former NBA stars including Dikembe Mutombo, Clyde Drexler, Bruce Bowen and Sean Elliot. Drexler and Elliot got tangled up going for a rebound and Elliot crashed to the ground, causing someone to yell: “calm down guys, this isn’t 1982.”
Mutombo blocked a shot and did the finger wave he made famous during his illustrious career. The entire West bench, led by Harden, jumped up cheering and waving their fingers after the play.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who played professional basketball in Australia, was a strong player for the West, crashing the boards and grabbing rebounds over the former NBA players.
Josh Hutcherson, the star of “The Hunger Games” who is almost as short as Hart, wowed the crowd by hitting a 3-pointer early in the game.