The People’s Games: LA vs. NYC Today in Venice!

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At 3 p.m today, the first event of a new sports series named “The People’s Games” starts in Venice Beach. Conceptually, this new series auditions the best athletes in a given sport from an entire city and then pits them against other cities. Today on the Venice courts, it will be the the best non-professional Basket Ball players from NYC against those from L.A.

The New York City Squad is headed by Knicks legend “Earl the Pearl” Monroe – a 1973 NBA title champion and Basketball Hall of Fame member. Heading the Los Angeles squad is UCLA and Lakers great Lucius Allen – a two-time NCAA champion under legendary coach John Wooden and an NBA title holder with the 1971 Milwaukee Bucks.

Heading the half-time show is the dance troupe, FLiRT, from the program Dancescape, aiming to scorch the courts with an electrifying dance routine. The event will be “live blogged” here.

From the The People’s Games:

The People’s Games is an entirely new concept that provides the common man an opportunity to live out the dream of representing their family, neighborhood and city in a premier athletic competition against rival cities. The inaugural event is a best-of-three game basketball series, NYC vs. LA, which tips-off today at the iconic courts of Venice Beach and continues May 10th in New York City on a specially created hardwood floor in Union Square, and May 11th if necessary at the City College of New York’s (CCNY) Holman Gym.

Hundreds of hopefuls from both cities participated in several rounds of tryouts throughout the month of March, battling for twenty coveted spots on each city’s roster. The final teams feature an eclectic and inspiring mix of players from all walks of life – a construction worker, spa owner, teacher, student, lawyer, barista, stay-at-home dad, past division one college player, cancer survivor, former homeless and others – including many who will fly in an airplane for the very first time.

In addition to the glory of representing their hometowns, these players will also be coached by basketball royalty. Team New York City is led by Knicks legend and basketball Hall of Famer Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, while former UCLA and Lakers great Lucius Allen is the coach of Team Los Angeles. Longtime friends off the court and now once again foes on it, Monroe and Allen are eager to showcase their squads and determine which city gets ultimate basketball bragging rights.

“I’m thrilled to be part of The People’s Games and was drawn by the fact it gives regular guys a chance to realize their dreams and get back to the roots of why we love the game,” said Monroe. “We have a tremendous team who’s ready to prove that New York City is the center of the basketball universe with a big win over LA.”

Allen responded, “I played and learned under legendary coach John Wooden and I’m bringing that same focus on tenacity and defense to this group of talented athletes. We’re already a basketball family and ready to bring the first People’s Games championship home to LA, where it belongs.”

The People’s Games was created by award-winning producer and Chairman of Beacon Pictures, Armyan Bernstein and seven-time Emmy winner and producer of six Olympic Games, Terry Jastrow. The tryouts, practices and finals were conducted in partnership with the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and in coordination with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa even got into The People’s Games spirit, participating in friendly banter with their own predictions on which city will experience the thrill of victory. “For my friend Mayor Bloomberg in New York City, I’d like to say I’m sorry but you are about to finish second in a two city event,” said Mayor Villaraigosa in an on-camera interview. Mayor Bloomberg responded via Twitter, saying, “I’ll take talent from Rucker Park or West 4th Street Cage over LA, any day of the week.”

Tryouts were open to any resident of the city they are representing who was 18 years of age or older and had no professional sports experience. The following competitors where selected through neighborhood tryouts held throughout the month of March.

Team New York City roster:

· Muhammad Abdul, Brooklyn, Guard, 26 years old

· Daniel Alotta, Queens, Guard, 35

· Justin Bright, Brooklyn, Guard, 24

· Kareem Corprew, Brooklyn, Forward, 22

· Ronald Grant, Bronx, Guard, 32

· Richard Letren, Brooklyn, Center, 32

· Evander Little, Brooklyn, Guard, 24

· Evan Majzner, Manhattan, Guard, 28

· Majestic Mapp, Bronx, Guard, 29

· Emmanuel Martinez, Brooklyn, Forward, 29

· Junior Mitchell, Brooklyn, Guard, 24

· Irving Moses, Manhattan, Guard, 28

· Eric Patterson, Bronx, Guard, 21

· Roman Perez, Brooklyn, Guard, 24

· Omari Phipps, Queens, Forward, 26

· Nygel Roach, Manhattan, Guard, 26

· Alanzo Robinson, Brooklyn, Guard, 23

· Banri Takenouchi, Manhattan, Guard, 31

· Herman Vanegas, Queens, Forward, 34

· Samuel Wallace Jr., Brooklyn, Center, 25

· Durell Watson, Brooklyn, Guard, 26

Team Los Angeles roster:

· Jason Anderson, South Central, Guard, 24 years old

· Shane Chase, West LA, Forward, 26

· Rashaun Ellis, Wilshire, Forward, 33

· Julius English, Sun Valley, Guard, 39

· Matisse Gaillard, Brentwood, Guard, 21

· Nick Gaillard, Brentwood, Guard, 27

· CJ Johnson, Mid City, Guard, 29

· Donald Lee, View Park/Winsor Hills, Forward/Center, 24

· Imani Mackie, Crenshaw, Center, 25

· Tim McGrath, Westchester, Guard, 24

· Jason Pruitt, South Central, Guard, 21

· Franklin Session, Watts, Guard, 22

· Giyoh Shey, Westlake, Guard, 23

· Mahershal Simonet, Westmont, Guard, 25

· LaCurtis Sumlim III, Jefferson, Forward, 24

· Darrel Tripp, Baldwin Hills, Forward, 23

· Joe Udeoji, South Central, Forward, 24

· Tarron Williams, Lennox, Forward/Center, 33

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