Though the college basketball season is over, Michigan basketball player Zach Novak had a crowd on its feet Friday with a game-ending slam-dunk at the annual Braylon Edwards Foundation Celebrity Basketball game.
The event, which was organized by the Braylon Edwards Foundation and the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute and attended by more than 500 people, raised money for Lou Gehrig’s disease research and featured a silent auction of University memorabilia and meet-and-greets with Michigan football, basketball and hockey players and alumni. Last year, the event raised more than $30,000 and proceeds from this year’s game will benefit the Taubman Institute.
The Braylon Edwards Foundation organizes charitable projects to support youth programs, the arts, education and health research. In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Edwards — a former Michigan football player and NFL wide receiver who has previously played for the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers — said the celebrity basketball game is one of his favorite events to organize.
“We just come up with things all the time that we do to raise money and give back,” Edwards said. “I’m really happy my friends came out and played and coached. I think it was another good event.”
Michigan football player Roy Roundtree and Michigan basketball player Tim Hardaway Jr. joined former NBA star Derrick Coleman to coach Team Blue, while Michigan basketball player Jordan Morgan and Michigan football players Denard Robinson and Alex Swieca helped Braylon Edwards coach Team Maize.
Players for Team Blue included Michigan basketball players Stu Douglass and Zach Novak and former WNBA player Stacey Lovelace-Tolbert. Detroit rapper Trigg Da Kidd, Michigan football player Mike Martin and Fab Five member Jimmy King were among the players for Team Maize.
Novak said he was happy to play in the game and support a former Michigan player.
“Braylon reached out to me and to a couple other players to see if we would just get involved and help,” Novak said. “When Braylon Edwards tells you to come help out at his game, you come and help.”
Douglass also expressed admiration for Edwards and said he thought the event would be a fun way to meet new people and raise money for a worthy cause.
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to play in this again, so it was fun to finally experience it,” Douglass said. “Braylon’s done a lot of great things, and he’s huge in the state of Michigan and in the University of Michigan, so it’s fun to play for his game.”
Coleman, who has participated in the event in the past, said his favorite part of the evening was witnessing WDIV Detroit sportscaster Rob Parker score after continuously failing to make a basket in previous years.
“I think last year we played at Crisler (Center), and Rob Parker didn’t score the whole game,” Coleman said. “I told him this game, I said ‘Look, if you don’t score, we’re going to leave you in the whole game.’”
The relaxed atmosphere afforded fans the opportunity to talk with their favorite players and collect autographs. Attendees were also treated to impromptu rap performances and concert ticket giveaways. The Detroit Pride Cheerleaders also greeted guests at the doors and provided half-time entertainment.
LSA sophomore Rebecca Barks said the event was a great way to spend a Friday evening and support her favorite Michigan players.
“I don’t know if I’ll get to see Stu and Zach play again,” she said. “I think it’s great they came out.”