Celebrities and athletes descended on Orange County over the weekend to shoot hoops and smash forehands in the Jim Slemons/Byron Scott Children's Classic.
The two-day benefit began Friday night at UC Irvine's Bren Center, where Los Angeles Lakers Byron Scott, Michael Cooper, A.C. Green, Kurt Rambis and other NBA stars played a 15-minute game against television actors, then waltzed through a four-quarter exhibition that featured "lots of offense and not much of the Big D," according to John Johns, one of an estimated 4,000 fans in attendance.
The action moved to the Newport Beach Marriott Saturday, where amateurs joined the tall and famous in a round-robin tennis tourney, then assembled for cocktails, dinner and dancing.
Proceeds from the events, estimated at $75,000 by organizer Brian McInerney, will be divided, he said, among San Juan Capistrano's South County Community Clinic, which provides medical care and social services to the needy; Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, a camp in the Santa Barbara area for children who have been treated for cancer, and the Byron Scott Foundation, an organization that sponsors basketball programs for underprivileged children.
Dubbed a "Challenge for Children," the weekend proved an athletic challenge for many of the participants.
Actor Peter Isacksen (who was featured in the "CPO Sharkey" television show) recalled ruefully that he was "doing fine--kinda fine--until I played (tennis pro) Nels Van Patten (son of actor Dick Van Patten)."
"Then I just tried to not get hit," Isacksen said at the poolside cocktail party.
Recalling Friday's pro-celeb mini-basketball game, actor Tim Culberson said he felt "real old" out on the court.
"A.C. Green was guarding me," said Culberson, rattling the ice in his drink. "I know (the pros) weren't trying to intimidate us, but just being out there with those guys was intimidating enough."
Hard to imagine the soft-spoken Scott--who flashed a sweet smile and extended his hand to all comers Saturday night--intimidating anyone.
"I'm just doing what comes naturally," said Scott of the many hours he devotes to charity. He had spent most of the week at Dana Hills High School in Dana Point, overseeing a basketball camp sponsored by his 8-month-old Byron Scott Foundation.
Noting that the actors were "real competitive" on the basketball court, Scott said: "They were pushing and shoving just like in the NBA."
Actress Kristy McNichol, who, with partner Bob Goldberg, won her division in the tennis tourney, said the competition was "at a pretty high level. I play tennis all the time--that's what I do when I'm not working. And I'll tell ya, there were some real good players out there today."
And some "not-so-good," added actress Susan Ruttan (Roxanne in the new hit television show "L.A. Law").
"I contributed to Kristy's championship by getting beaten up out there," Ruttan said with a laugh. "So I figure part of her trophy belongs to me."
Guests enjoyed a dinner of tossed salad, filet mignon and layered custard in raspberry sauce, then limbered up on the dance floor to Otis Day and the Knights.
Also taking part in the sports weekend were Cliff Livingston, of the Atlanta Hawks, and Alvin Robertson, of the San Antonio Spurs.
The thespian contingent included actor Nick Cassavetes (son of director John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands), who was cocktailing informally in jeans, Doors T-shirt and black fedora, and Deborah Tranelli (who plays J.R.'s secretary on "Dallas").