Stars Align for Charity Event

 By: Derek Toney
As the Towson Center emptied out early Saturday evening, Sam Cassell stood near the sidelines with some family and friends. It was a rare tranquil moment for the Baltimore native this week.

“It’s been real cool, but I’m still soaking it in,” said Cassell, who won a NBA championship with the Boston Celtics several days ago. “When I go on vacation next month, I can sit back and recap what I went through.”

Cassell was back home Saturday, participating in the sixth annual Kurk Lee Foundation Celebrity Charity All-Star Game at Towson University.

Cassell began his 14th NBA campaign with the Los Angeles Clippers back in November. The Clippers floundered, and bought out Cassell’s contract in late February. After clearing waivers, the veteran guard was signed by the Celtics for the remainder of the season.

The Celtics, the worst team in the league last year, won their 17th title Tuesday with a 131-92 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers, to win the NBA Finals in six games. Cassell, a graduate of Dunbar High, was the backup point guard to Rajon Rondo.

“People thought it was easy for me to go to Boston, but Boston had to want me,” said Cassell, who averaged 4.5 points and 1.2 assists in the postseason. “They welcomed me with open arms. Some people thought it was going to be a problem; I’m challenging Rondo for minutes. It was never that.

Hey, I’m 38 years old, he’s the starting point guard. If we lose, it’s on him.”

Cassell, who turns 39 in November, said he’s planning to return to Boston next season. Cassell won two championships with Houston, playing alongside Hakeem Olajuwon. He had a much different role this time around as the vaulted “Big Three” of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen helped bring one of professional sports’ most storied franchises back to prominence.

“After winning a championship, it’s just so hard to walk away,” said Cassell. “Certain guys did it, but like I tell guys, every great movie has a sequel. If we consider ourselves a great team we got to repeat.”

Wearing uniform No. 3, likely a homage to his latest title experience, Cassell was given MVP honors for the showcase game which featured former Archbishop Spalding standout Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies) and the Baltimore Ravens’ Terrell Suggs and Mark Clayton.

But the real MVP was Lee, whose non-profit organization has raised more than $200,000 for various charities in Baltimore.

“It means a great deal to support something positive for the city of Baltimore and for the youth,” said Lee, who announced his organization will give $20,000 to the Leukaemia Foundation. “They could’ve done something else on a Saturday.”

“I just like giving back to the kids,” said Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony, a Baltimore native who starred at Syracuse University and Towson Catholic. “I never had someone who gave back to the community when I was growing up, so I know how important it is.”
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