By Nicki Jhabvala, SI.com
Team Melo was no one-shot deal.
Nearly a month after entertaining thousands in Baltimore, the star-studded group of Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant will return for another lockout showcase, this time against Team Philly at the Palestra on Sept. 25 at 6 p.m. ET.
Philadelphia product and current Phoenix forward Hakim Warrick, the brains behind the organization of Team Philly, has assembled a roster that includes 76ers guard Lou Williams and Pennsylvania-bred pros John Salmons, Marcus and Markieff Morris, Wayne Ellington, Jason Thompson, Ronald Murray and Tyreke Evans. The only missing pieces to the team are a coach and the possible addition of Lower Merion product Kobe Bryant. As Warrick told The Philadelphia Inquirer, which first reported news of the game:
“I think [Kobe] may have other obligations, but we’re definitely reaching out to him. I know to have him there would be big for the city.”
“I didn’t have to sell [this game] at all, it came to a point where I was hoping that some people would turn me down because we we’re getting too many people. It wasn’t a tough sell to go out there and play for your city. For a lot of these guys that grew up in the Philadelphia-area, basketball is a big thing, and you don’t want to get embarrassed.”
Tickets for the game, which is being dubbed “The Battle for I-95,” went on sale at 3 p.m. on Tuesday at Pennathletics.com for $30 to $50 apiece and were sold out as of Wednesday morning. However, the game will be streamed live on SI.com and The Basketball Channel.
Pro-am and streetball leagues have provided the only source of elite basketball entertainment in the U.S. during the NBA’s lockout, which has been in effect since July 1. Oklahoma City forward Durant has been at the center of it all, competing in nearly league across the country, from the Drew League in Los Angeles, to the famed Rucker Park in New York.
One of his more recent stops was in Baltimore on Aug. 30, when his Goodman All-Stars took on Team Melo in Anthony’s hometown. Though Durant scored a game-high 59 points, Carmelo’s team — led by James’ 36 points and a handful of high-flying dunks — came away with a 149-141 win in front of a packed crowd of 4,500-plus at Morgan State University.
Now, Durant and his fellow NBA stars are ready for the next stop on their lockout hoops tour: The Palestra.