All Eyes are on Snoop's Hoops




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Jason Gewirtz

Fans ogle as rapper, actor plays in own
celebrity basketball game at Poly High.

LONG BEACH — When Snoop Dogg calls to play in his celebrity basketball game, he's hard to turn down.

So when the Long Beach native, burgeoning film star and superstar rapper took to the phone for his 2nd annual Celebrity Charity Basketball Game at Poly High School held on June 29, 2003, he didn't have a hard time filling the team rosters.

"I gotta come represent, especially at the high school,' said fellow rap artist and Poly alum Nate Dogg. "I gotta do it.'

Plus, the venue brought back memories.

"Me and Snoop used to skip class right where we're standing at,' he said.

The event, which drew about 1,200 basketball fans, rap fans, media and celebrity watchers, was a hit among the crowd as well.

"I came to see everybody,' said 13-year-old Michael Johnson of Long Beach, who got Nate Dogg's autograph before the game.

Johntae Forshae, a 23-year-old Long Beach resident, stood in line with hundreds of other fans before the game.

"I just heard about it on the radio, and I'm like, man, I've got to come,' he said.

Answering questions outside the school's gymnasium before tip-off, Snoop Dogg said he wanted to send a message to Long Beach youth that they could pursue successful careers as well.

"I just always like to come back and let them know where I came from,' he said. "I walked through these same streets, I went to the same school.'

Portions of the $10 admission price went to Snoop's Save a Life Foundation and Poly High, event promoters said.

"We have a lot of fun doing this,' said Snoop Dogg, who was Calvin Broadus when he roamed Poly's halls in the late 1980s. "We break our schedules to make it happen.'

That's no easy task for Snoop Dogg, who has been in high demand of late. In addition to numerous music projects, he's set to star as Huggy Bear in a movie based on the 1970s police show "Starsky & Hutch' and will appear in a remake of the classic 1980s comedy "Airplane!'

And he still continues to make headlines in other ways, including an incident last week in Hollywood where police detained several of his bodyguards for questions on weapons allegations after they dropped Snoop Dogg off at an awards ceremony. A promoter said he wouldn't answer questions about the incident.

But his press has been more positive of late, including reviews for his new MTV comedy show, "Doggy Fizzle Televizzle,' which had its season premiere last June.

"I wanted to do something that was real,' he said of the program. "That's what my show is all about, me having a good time.'

The same applied for the celebrities who played his game.

Arlen Escarpeta, an actor on NBC's "American Dreams,' said he played because he loves basketball and is a big Snoop Dogg fan.

"Who's not a fan?' he said. "He's got the rap thing, the MTV thing, the movie thing. He's doing it the right way.'

Other participants included rapper/producers Warren G and Soopafly and several NBA stars, including the Washington Wizards' Bryon Russell and the Houston Rockets' Juaquin Hawkins, who both played at Cal State Long Beach, and DeShawn Stevenson of the Utah Jazz.

While most were watching the players rather than the score, Snoop's team came out on top, 124-114.

Jason Gewirtz is a staff writer for the Long Beach Press-Telegraph. ALL EYES ARE ON SNOOP'S HOOPS, reprinted with permission from the author, originally appeared on June 29, 2003 in the Long Beach Press-Telegraph Copyright © 2003 Long Beach Press Telegram Los Angeles Newspaper Group.


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