SLAM contributor Ben Luss takes in Big Tigger’s Celebrity Basketball Classic

I’ve always had a lot of respect for Big Tigger. Back in the day, when he was holdin’ it down in Momma Tigger’s basement as the host of BET’s Rap City, dude always handled himself well. No matter if Hov or Three-Six Mafia came through for a visit, Tigger treated everyone with the same respect.

Today Tigger’s still promoting the latest hip-hop and R&B artists, only now he’s doing it via a widely-syndicated radio program. Over the course of last weekend, however, Tig wasn’t just wildin’ out with Weezy or dancin’ with Diddy; the former 106 & Park host was in Atlanta on a mission—raising awareness for the still-deadly AIDS virus with his non-profit organization, the Street Corner Foundation.

Tig and his crew (shouts out to PR maestro Felicia Quaning for keeping things in order) organized youth clinics (as late as 2002, 68% of new AIDS cases were Black children), silent auctions, parties, free testing and a celebrity basketball game. SLAM didn’t make all of the festivities, but we did show for the 6th Annual Celebrity Classic. Here’s what we saw at Morehouse College’s Forbes Arena:

-The first thing I notice is all of the BET talent (some current, some past) in the building. I see Hits (more on that hilarious cat later), 106’s Terrence J and Rocsi floating about. Hits is serving as the MC for the game. Terrence is actually playing on the Atlanta team. Rosci isn’t getting sweaty. We’ll just call the KING covergirl a cheerleader for the D.C. squad.

-If you ever thought Rosci was stuck up, cancel that. A random fan with some nachos walks past her. Rosci stops her and asks for a chip. It’s a genuine, I-don’t-care-who’s-watching 10 seconds.

-Terrence is joined in the game by a host of athletes and music types. DJ Clue, Lyfe Jennings, 112’s Q and saxophonist Mike Phillips suited up. So, too, do football players Juran Bolden, Darnerien McCants, Deon Grant, Fred Smoot, Victor Hobson and Jerry Porter. All the names mentioned are decent in sneakers, but Porter is actually really good. The Oakland Raiders wide receiver could have easily played D-1 ball somewhere.

-Beyond the BET personalities and celebrities playing, I see some other familiar faces near the court, including Chingy, Dem Franchize Boyz, Lil’ Mo and this kid who really, really looks like Young Joc but I don’t think it’s him. Still, even with all of that going on, most eyes in the building are focused on two ladies—Melyssa Ford and Deelishis. Both are wearing white outfits that are rather, umm, form-fitting. Neither can stop chuckling from all the attention their rears are rendering.

-The game had a 6PM start time. By 5:45, there were still plenty of empty seats in the gym. The advertised prices ($10-75) were a bit steep, so that may have had something to do with it. Graciously, by the middle of the first half, they let most of the folk sitting up top come down closer to the floor.

-The action on the court is about what you’d expect from a celebrity game: lots of air balls, lots of miscommunication and a couple of dunks. Don’t sleep on Lyfe Jennings though. Son’s got grand hustle like T.I. And McCants and Porter are legit high risers. Most of those slams, in fact, come via Porter, who’s clearly a level or three above everyone else on the court—well, everybody except the two coaches, who are Jason Terry and Kenyon Martin.

-Hits is hilarious on the mic. Unfortunately, the sound system is bit shaky at the gym so many folks can’t hear his lil’ quips in the speaker. Before the action really gets going, the former BET star suggests, “If you gotta go to the bathroom, go now!” When Clue or somebody else takes a wild shot, the former BET star goes, “What the hell?!” Bill Walton should take some lessons.