The 7 Greatest NBA All-Star Celebrity Game Performances By Celebs

Photos: Jason Merritt/Getty Images, Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Most celebrities who hit the hardcourt for the NBA’s annual celebrity game (modeled on MLB’s Celebrity Softball Game and probably MTV’s Rock N’ Jock) just make the real players fall asleep. But a few, from A-listers to D-listers, have surprising athletic talent.

Next Friday will mark the game’s 10th anniversary–for which Trey Songz, Ne-Yo and reigning MVP Kevin Hart will suit up–so we’re looking back on the top celeb performances. (Honorable mentions to “Guy Code” alums Vinny Guadagnino and Common.)

7. Brian McKnight (2005)

Photo: Mark Mainz/Getty Images

Some soul and blues and a whole lot of rhythm. The versatile musician anchored the Earl Boykins-coached “Denver” squad that fell behind 10 points with 3:40 to play but came came roaring back thanks to his (and Diana Taurasi’s) three balls.

With only 10 seconds on the clock, McKnight drove the lane and nailed an off-balance shot, drawing a foul and giving his team a one-point lead FTW. In slightly less impressive fashion, McKnight also abused the 5′ 4″ Jermaine Dupri and Wilmer Valderrama.

6. Justin Bieber (2011)

Photo: Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

We waffled on this one but decided to give credit where it’s due. Biebs was just 16 when he scored eight points (3-11 FG), adding two rebounds and four assists. His team lost but he earned respect from Bill Simmons, plus a backhanded compliment from Hall-of-Famer Scottie Pippen. “He played pretty well,” Pippen said, “but he has an ugly shot.”

5. Arne Duncan (2012)

Photo: Getty Images

Tim Duncan‘s estranged, Caucasian half-brother… nah, it’s just the current United States Secretary of Education, who co-captained Harvard’s basketball team in the early ’80s and actually played professionally in Australia. At age 46, he outplayed and out-hustled the rest of the field, scoring 17 points to go along with eight rebounds for the East. We’d put him higher if he wasn’t such a ringer.

4. Deion Sanders (2008)

Photo: Getty Images

We already knew that Neon Deion could play professional football and baseball; the man scored a touchdown and hit a home run in the same week! So it wasn’t terribly surprising in 2008 when the NFL Hall-of-Famer dominated the celebrity game with 14 points and 13 rebounds, actually in a losing effort. More on that game below. Still, Prime Time gets props for the monster game.

3. Nelly (2006)

Photo: Roland Martinez/Getty Images

In that photo Nelly might look like he’s just coming down from a blast of anesthesia, but the man has game and earned the MVP award with 14 points and 12 rebounds, and his team’s only three pointers. Plus he earned style points for doing it while his own songs played over the loudspeakers.

2. Tony Potts (2007)

Photo: Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

Yeah, the unathletic-looking white dude who hosted “Access Hollywood” for 13 seasons. Potts scored 14 points and eight rebounds for the West, which crushed the East 40-21. Said the modest MVP: “One time I looked over, and there’s LaDanian Tomlinson guarding Reggie Bush, and I’m thinking what am I supposed to do?”

1. Terrell Owens and Master P (2008)

Photo: Getty Images

T.O. and Master P share co-honors for the top spot because they joined forces for a comeback one-point victory. MVP Owens, who played basketball in college at Chattanooga, put on a show with 18 points and a dunk. Master P dropped 17 of his own.

Owens won another MVP the following year. Rumor has it he’s short on cash, so he might want to consider balling in China, Australia or somewhere the dollar exchanges well.

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