Last night, I attended the annual Cedars Sinai Sports Spectacular awards dinner at the Hyatt Regency in Century City. After the Los Angeles NAACP dinner I attended a few weeks back, I have to say I was a bit wary of awards dinners honoring philanthropic sports figures. (Donald Sterling as the NAACP’s man of the hour, the night before our mag story on him and his discriminating ways went to print?! Nothing fishy about that.)
But the athletes honored last night—Laila Ali, Ryan Sheckler and Dwyane Wade—have made significant philanthropic contributions and were deserving of having attention brought to the good things they’ve done over the past year. I did, however, find it a bit premature to present a lifetime achievement award to Ali, who is 31. I also thought it was interesting that Sheckler, an under-21 skateboarder, was honored on the same night as Ali and Wade. Action sports is moving up in the sports world.
The event met with the unfortunate scheduling conflict of going head-to-head with game two of the NBA finals. Snoop Dogg, who was supposed to emcee the dinner, as well as many of the “confirmed athletes,” skipped out in order to attend the game. Tom Arnold replaced Snoop as the show’s host. (What? Was David Spade busy?) However, about a half hour after the game ended, Snoop showed up and performed on stage with Baron Davis and Chad Ochocinco.
My favorite celeb spotting of the night was not Tito and Jenna or dancing sensation Warren Sapp. It was Leslie David Baker, who plays Stanley Hudson on The Office. I was standing next to him in line for the “Up” escalator when I heard a woman come up to him and say, “My daughter over there says she is a big fan! I have no idea who you are, but you look like a nice man.” Classic.