By Michael Tillery

The 2nd annual Bada Bling weekend for charity hosted by the Chris Webber Foundation in Las Vegas happened to be one of the most incredible weekends fit for royalty. From the cream 2008 Escalades that chauffeurred everyone in attendance to and from the airport, to the weekend’s swank highlight, The soiree, hosted by funny man Charlie Murphy, everything was top notch and white carpet tight. The weekend kicked off Friday evening with a charity poker tournament that included everyone from Rip Hamilton of the Detroit Pistons to last year’s winner Miss California, Tamiko Nash. Hip Hop poet Nas, comics Charlie Murphy and Marc Curry, boxer Zab Judah, model/actress Claudia Jordan and a bevy of athletes and entertainers rounded out those who chose to spectate and mingle with their celebrity peers. The night concluded with a sick welcoming party at club OPM. Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick the Ruler performed their all time classics with old school tracks spun by Biz Markie.

A celebrity golf outing started the second day of events. I can only imagine what affect the sweltering Vegas heat had on everyone’s golf swing. Lastly, the weekend concluded with The Soiree’. Charlie Murphy had everyone rolling with his straight forward routine and fellow comedian Marc Curry helped out with the auction which included everything from a dinner with Webber at his home in Atlanta or Detroit, to a 2008 All Star Game VIP package in New Orleans. Howard Hewitt of Shalamar fame, Raphael Sadiqq, Lil’ Mo, Nas and the Isley Brothers all did their thing on stage. The night ended on a high note with Biz once again mixing the hottest tracks at the after party right next door. If you ever go to Vegas, Caesar’s does it right. Since every thing was happening in the hotel, I never had to leave. Great event and it was crazy having to come back to reality.

Here’s some quotes from the many sports and entertainment personalities paying homage to Chris that were present:

MT: Kareem, Chris seems like a throwback athlete because he seems to take a solid initiative in properly using his talent and fame to give back. How does he compare to the athletes of your generation that thought of more than just themselves?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Chris’s philantrophy transcends generations. This is my second year attending this event, and I do so because Chris is doing this genuinely from the heart. Past athletes like Jim Brown, Jackie Robinson, etc., would and should be proud of Chris because giving back is so important to him.

MT: Should athletes give back no matter what or is it their personal choice?

Kareem: Well, it’s always there choice, but athletes should understand the position they are in and make sure the youth of our society see them in a positive light by making themselves available to not only the communities in which they play, but society in general.

MT: Shawn, didn’t expect to see you here. What can athletes do to make America understand that most athletes do the right thing?

Shawn Marion: Besides setting up foundations like Chris has done so well, athletes have to understand that kids see them differently than adults. We are blessed to be here and should make sure we stay relevant by giving back every chance we get.

MT: Mr. Webber, I know it was a dream come true having your son sign with his hometown team, the Detroit Pistons last year. Could you let us in on the disappointment you felt after Detroit came up just short?

Mayce Webber: It was definitely a dream come true. I was so excited and can’t really put into words the feeling when Chris signed. It was really an emotional moment for me. I feel that there should have been no way Cleveland got past us. It was more than the players that allowed for this to happen. Detroit was definitely a better team than Cleveland and it just made no sense that they went on and faced San Antonio. Detroit definitely would have been a better match up for the Spurs.

MT: Should your son re-sign with Detroit? His career has come full circle and I’m sure his fans know Detroit is where he belongs.

Mayce Webber: Yes, I do think Chris should re-sign with Detroit. Joe Dumars has been good to him and the fans of Detroit deserve to see Chris finish out his career there. I hope he stays.

MT: Chauncey speak about Chris and why he gives so much back.

Chauncey Billups: CWebb does it big. He has a huge heart. No one does it like CWebb. I tell everyone that. Every time he does an event it’s the best. I’m never going to miss this. I’m here to support him–giving back like he does.

MT: Most athletes in today’s free agency era would not have resigned with their respective team. What prompted that resigning?

Chauncey Billups: I love the situation that I’m in. The Pistons are the first team that fell in love with me and I’m just showing that same love and respect to them. Obviously, I could have done a lot of different things, but I’m a loyal dude.

MT: Are you doing your best to persuade Chris to stay in Detroit?

Chauncey Billups: Man! I’m trying! I’m trying hard as I can.

MT: Carmelo, what brings you here besides USA basketball?

Carmelo Anthony: Well I am in town for USA basketball, but I’m here to support Chris. He’s my big homie, a big veteran of the league. I want to show love to him. He’s doing big things.

MT: What I remember about you, Matt, is last year at this event. We were on the white carpet at the Soiree’. Your former Sixers coaches, Maurice Cheeks and Mike Bibby’s dad Henry were having a conversation. I could see the fire in your eyes. We were talking about Philly not giving you any playing time (Matt laughs). Do you remember that?

Matt Barnes: Of course I remember.

MT: All of a sudden, you go to Golden State and blow up! What was your mindset going into the off season and being so successful with the Warriors and upsetting the number one seed Dallas Mavericks. It was one of the biggest upsets in NBA history.

Matt Barnes: It was a lot of just showing what I can do. I sat on the bench for two years in Philly and didn’t get the opportunity to play. I really wanted to play. Playing so hard in Golden State was my way of showing Philly that they made a big mistake by not playing me.

MT: What are you going to do this year to show everyone that last year was not a fluke? On the floor you have the eyes of a straight up assassin. I don’t know if anyone expected GS to do what you did in the playoffs. It was real and it affected every single basketball fan alive who truly has their finger on the game’s pulse. I felt connected to you any time I saw you play because of our conversation last year. Proud of you brotha. Follow it up!

Matt Barnes: I have to just keep working hard. Keep doing what I do. It took me a little while to arrive on this stage, but I’m here to stay. I just try to go out there and get better every day. I feel you on that connection. I thought about it during the year too. I’m in negotiations with some teams. Just trying to get back into the swing of things and get ready for the season. It’s good to come out here and support Chris and his foundation and see some people I haven’t seen in a while.

MT: Joakim, being you are one of the youngest players here, why come?

Joakim Noah: I feel as though I’m in a great situation with Chicago and I’m here for CWebb. I’ve never been to one of these. I know I want to do a lot of things myself in the future. I want to have foundations. I think it’s the right thing to do to support people like Chris and their foundations to learn how it’s done and see how the money is generated. Just learn the ropes.

MT: Everybody talks about the emotion you bring to the court every single second you are out on the floor and even on the bench. What is something that people don’t know about you?

Joakim Noah: There’s a lot of things people don’t know about me. I’m always going to play with emotion while on the court but people see you on TV playing basketball and they expect you to be emotional all the time. Sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I’m angry. I have a lot of different emotions too like every other human being.

MT: What will resonate in your mind about what you and your teammates were able to accomplish in winning back to back national titles at Florida? What kind of career do you envision for yourself with the Chicago Bulls?

Joakim Noah: I say going back to campus after winning the second title. It was just ridiculous. We just had so much fun man. We were wilin’ out. We did it the right way. That’s what you are supposed to do after winning a championship. Hopefully, I’ll have a long career with a lot of buckets, a lot of rebounds and a lot of blocks. Hopefully some chips along the way.

MT: I know you are out here for USA Basketball Tayshaun. Nice to see you took time out to support Webb’s event.

Tayshaun Prince: It’s for a great cause obviously. We’re out here to take care of business on the court. Since Webb is having something out here the same time it’s good to show appreciation for Chris while also supporting his foundation. It just goes to show that we can do stuff off the court and support our fellow athletes that give back.

MT: Nice to see you back here for the second year in a row Nas.

Nas: I like what Chris stands for. He’s a good person through and through. 100%. This thing right here is all for the children. I made a record, I Can, and kids were singing that at graduation. That touched me. So anything for the children, I’m all for. I love everything that Big Webb is doing. Everything he’s doing is from the heart. It’s a piece of who he is. He’s sharing it with the world.

MT: We spoke during the Poker tournament about philantrophy and you gave Chris many accolades for being a force in the community. Speak about Chris Webber the beat maker and also about Hip Hop going through it’s present transition. How are we going to get back to the conscious Hip Hop representative of artists like yourself?

Nas: Chris is really into music like how I am. We like to have conversations about all kinds of music. We vibin’ right now to the Sinatra kind of sound. That’s what you are hearing now. We just had a barbecue thing and we were vibin’ off of Sinatra and Sam Cooke. The song we did, Blunt Ashes, was about artists before our time. Everybody that was in the game. It’s about the heroes of music. You can tell that’s our connection all the way.

Nas: Hip Hop is on a natural course. Hip Hop became global, so you have elevated Hip Hop, you have dance Hip Hop and all kinds of Hip Hop music. The whole thing got bigger. You have to go inside and find who you really like. The guys that I really like are still doing their thing. It doesn’t have anything to do with all the other stuff that’s going on. It’s great that the other stuff is going on. Everybody gotta eat, so let the other guys eat. Everything ain’t good, but you have to take the good and the bad.

MT: Rip, Rip! (Trying to land BHop-Winky Wright tickets and straight up igging me out before finally turning my way and almost eating my recorder) What’s goin’ with the Poker tournament? Is it a friendly competition?

Rip Hamilton: My bad Mike, you know how it is… I’m out here for Webb man. Great individual. He’s done some special things for the community. I went to war with him on the floor. Any opportunity I can be here for something special, I’ll do it. It’s fun. We all want to win. Right now it’ll start of friendly but you know how we all are and it will turn competitive and we all want to win.

MT: You came up a little short this year. What do you expect out of the Pistons next season? The signing of Mr. Big Shot was an important step.

Rip Hamilton: Same thing. Right back in the mix. We feel like we should have been in the Finals the last four years, so it’s tough. We let one slip away. You gotta give a lot of credit to Cleveland. They played well. LeBron played awesome. We just gotta get back to where we were last year and hopefully get a win. Definitely was an important step. You look at the great back court with the Pistons–Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars–those guys retired together. When we get the opportunity to sew up a back court like this, it’s a great thing. We won a championship and feel like we can win another one. We can only get better and hopefully will get right back there.

MT: Bobby Jax. You out here in Vegas to support your boy? Are you going to do anything with those chips in front of you?

Bobby Jackson: Yeah I’m out here to support my boy Chris. I love poker. Love to gamble even though I don’t get to do it often. I just got that competitive edge. Hopefully I can win some free hours on that jet over there and go home happy. There’s always competition going on between me and the fellas. Once we step off the floor doing what we do, it’s gonna get competitive. It’s just like on the court; we don’t want anybody else winning.

MT: Back in New Orleans this year. What’s going on with the fans as well as the team? What’s going on in the region? Is there any positive development or is it still dilapidated?

Bobby Jackson: If we stay healthy we can be a pretty good team. We had a lot of injuries last year to a lot of key guys. We just missed the playoff by two games, so that says a lot about us. But I’m happy. Going back to New Orleans, the city has given us a lot of support and needs our support as well. It’s growing. I don’t know why it’s taken so long. It’s taking much longer than it should. As athletes and friends, we can make a difference. We can take it one step at a time and try to build up the community. The government has to take the initiative to do that also. They are really taking their time to build up the city and it really doesn’t make any sense why that is happening.

MT: Coach, speak about the development of Chris Webber the player from when you coached him in Washington and later in Philly. What brings you here? You here to represent Dei?

Jimmy Lynam: Wow, Chris has developed into a fine player. He was a big part of what they had going on in Sacramento. I loved his game early on even in DC and later in Philly. He’s a basketball player without the restrictions. I came here to represent my daughter who came in second at the poker tournament. I’m here to defend.

MT: Dale talk about this event as it relates to the community.

Dale Davis: Oh it’s huge. CWebb is doing a lot of things to help the youth. So we’re just coming out here to support and have some fun at a beautiful event.

MT: You’ve played in the NBA a long time and done a lot of big things. How has the NBA been to you?

Dale Davis: It’s been great. No question about it. It’s been a great experience. I’ve been able to do a lot and meet a lot of people and have a great career. I’ve definitely enjoyed it. The game is going to a new level.

MT: I see you are here again showing love to your friend Jackie and Doug. What do you have going on?

Doug Christie: Where do you start? Chris is a beautiful individual and is a great human being for doing what he does for the kids. Anytime he has an event, we are here to support. We love what he does for the community with his money.

Jackie Christie: We have our fashion line that will be coming out in the spring. Doug is going to be heavily involved and also going back to the NBA. We’re excited about that. We definitely will be doing a men’s line. We have our book out, No Ordinary Love, that we’ve debuted on June 1st.

MT: I’ll get to review it, right? Doug, talk about your career as an NBA player as it transitions to other forms of life.

Doug: I got you Mike on the book. Well, I think more than anything, it’s a lesson along the way. You are meeting people, but it’s a business. Over the years, I learned that. Once I got married, I understood that family meant everything. Then came the business desire. My wife having that background, helped me more than anything start the transition. After basketball, yeah we have the money, but what are we going to do next? We are gonna keep on pushing. I credit her because sometimes people don’t think that way. You are just in it and keep grinding. I’m proud of her for the stuff she’s put into it and also myself for staying in and learning everything I can business wise. I don’t know, everything.

MT: There was a crazy period where there were a lot of misconceptions about your relationship. Are you two still going through it or has the media and public calmed down? Thanks for providing people with an inspiration.

Jackie Christie: It definitely was crazy. I think it has come full circle. They were so hard on us at first–we took a lot of punches. We just kept it strong and didn’t change. Nothing they say matters. With the book, they get a real good understanding of who we are. We never said we were perfect. We love each other and we are not going to change anything.

Doug: You see a lot of players with their wives and children and that image is good for other players to see. They think it’s cool and if they think it’s cool, then that’s power–especially in our community.

MT: Ruthie, did you develop a friendship with Chris while you both played in Sacramento?

Ruthie Bolton: Yes, during that time. I’m definitely a big Chris Webber fan. He’s definitely a great person. He has a beautiful smile and is also a beautiful person inside. So when he asked me to come, I didn’t hesitate.

MT: Are you happy with the direction the WNBA is going in–especially with the new contract they signed with ESPN? You and some of the other players of your era really did the league and it’s players a solid by trailblazing a path of success.

Ruthie Bolton: I think it’s going to be great. I was just at the WNBA All Star game and I miss it so much. It’s going to get better. I tell young girls all the time that they are going to get to enjoy the pro game because right now it’s still in it’s birthing stages. The NBA is backing the league, so it’s going to be great. It’s good that women have something to look forward to professionally in this country instead of going over seas. The first four years it was Houston and the next three LA. There’s more balance now and you never know who is going to win. The younger kids are coming in and making a bigger impact early on. I love watching the game. The talent is great across the board. I wish I was still playing but it’s cool to pass the torch to players that really represent women’s basketball with a strong impact.

MT: Shav, what is Chris Webber the teammate like?

Shavlik Randolph: He’s like a big brother to me. One I’ve never had. He took me under his wing and showed me the ropes on and off the court. He’s honestly one of my best friends. He’ll be my brother and friend for life. I’m so glad I can come here and support what he does.

MT: What’s going on with the Sixers? How are you going to transition from Allen Iverson and later Chris Webber, to Andre Iguodala, Rodney Carney and yourself?

Shavlik Randolph: We have a lot to be excited about. We had one of the best records last year post all star break. We have a lot to look forward to. Obviously, it’s hard to replace two Hall of Famers in Allen Iverson and Chris Webber, but we have Andre Miller and a lot to build around. We’ve done the rebuilding thing and are at the top of the ladder and going into the upcoming season with expectations of making the playoffs.

MT: Brian, talk about your relationship with Webber and the transition from player to coach.

Brian Shaw: Chris and I have been friends for a while. I will do what I can to help him in any way because he’s such a good dude. It’s different being a coach. You have to be less emotional and not react like you would as a player. The players look to you for guidance and support and that’s what I try to give them.

Webb finally steps up to the mic to talk about his event, athletes having similar intentions, and if the money actually goes to his foundation.

Chris Webber: I was inspired by many people to have this. Magic had his Midnight Summer Magic. Michael Jordan had his events. I just wanted to do the same thing. Truthfully, I have so many friends that have the resources and intentions to help and I like calling them out to come help me and I’ll do the same for them.

I’d rather be with kids than having a good time now. I can make fun of them for being a Lakers fan. You can tell them a stupid joke and they won’t laugh. If they aren’t a Pistons fan then they’ll tell you. You have to respect that. I really love working with children. My mother’s been a teacher. We’ve had everything from schools in our home, to vacation Bible schools and day cares in our home that my mother ran. She taught me in 6th and 7th grade–which wasn’t fun, but children are our focus.

Maybe the call is not for everyone, but hopefully we’ve all had good parents with a strong background to make it where you are and where we all are. Hopefully we can represent those values that got us here. Hopefully you have conviction and enough courage. It doesn’t have to be this. It could be taking to kids during summer to a camp that don’t have fathers or mothers. Just do what you can do.

I thank God that people appreciate my word. If I tell people they are going to have a good time, hopefully they are going to be accommodated 100% of their money goes to the foundation. I have no incentive to take, rob, steal. I just want people that are humble to help the community. If we have that, then we have everything that we need to do.

MT: Briefly speak on what basketball has given you. From playing high school ball in Detroit to coming full circle and playing professionally in Detroit. What has that experience been like?

Chris Webber: It’s been a learning experience. It has had its ups and downs. I became a man in front of the eyes of the world. People still learn at the ages of 50 and 60. I know I’m still learning. It’s been rewarding. At the end of the day it’s built a lot of character and settled me. You can’t get too high or too low. Take all compliments with a grain of salt and everybody that hates you, don’t even listen to them.

MT: You gonna stay with Detroit? What’s going on with that?

Chris Webber: I don’t know. I would love to. Right now I’m thinking about Detroit and Dallas, so you never know. Watch out for BShaw though he’s trying to get me in LA!

Bonus Gavin Maloof UPDATE:

MT: What are your thoughts on the Bada Bling event and could you reflect on the time Chris spent in Sacramento?

Gavin Maloof: First of all we are really proud of Chris Webber and his contributions to charitable events. What he’s doing is so good. When we had him with the Kings, he was definitely the cornerstone of the franchise. We’ll never forget what he did for our team.

MT: What’s going on with the new arena?

Gavin Maloof: Right now, we are just waiting on the David Stern’s office to come back with a plan. They’ve been working on that for the past 6-8 months. They’ll present us a plan in the upcoming weeks. It’s what they tend to do. The NBA took over the process. We’re kind of out of the process at this point.