When Gary Bushkin began planning the first Phoenix Suns Celebrity Shootout 10 years ago, he didn't believe stars like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie would take part, pacing the sidelines as guest coaches, as they did.
This year, expect to see recording artist Chris Brown, Common, actor Frankie Muniz, "Twilight" actor Kiowa Gordon and more.
Over the years, the annual fundraiser has become a marquee event in the Valley and around the league, growing to 7,500 participants last year from 3,000 in the first. (Although last year's numbers were a little low because of the recession. Attendance has peaked at 12,000.)
The shootout, Jan. 29 at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, is the biggest fundraiser of the year for Suns Nite Hoops, a non-profit that supports young Valley men.
In the past, fans have seen Grammy Award-winning hip-hop singer Usher and rapper Ice Cube hit the court. They've watched actor Frankie Muniz play and the multi-talented Jamie Foxx take a few shots.
Last year, hip-hop artist, actor and sometimes point guard Common took MVP honor. He'll return this year, to raise money for a philanthropy he respects. His skills might be rusty. He's been busy, working on a new show for AMC, preparing to film the movie "The Odd Life of Timothy Green," and working on a new album, "The Dreamer, The Believer." Not much time for hoops, even if he did recently play an NBA star in 2010's "Just Wright," co-starring with Queen Latifah.
The celebrity game is family-friendly, with giveaways, on-court games and entertainment during breaks. Tickets are affordable, with more than half of the seats going for $9 a ticket. The Celebrity Shootout typically raises about $140,000, covering about half of Nite Hoops' annual budget. Nite Hoops targets men ages 18 to 25, an age bracket beyond the Boys & Girls Clubs and out of reach of after-school programs.
When: Saturday, Jan. 29, 2 p.m. Where: U.S. Airways Center, 201 E. Jefferson Street, Phoenix. Cost: Tickets start at $9. Details: suns.com
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You will find information about the West Valley side of the Phoenix Metro area. "Snappy" will also feature attractions and places throughout Arizona.
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