Barden spry as Giants beat Cowboys in charity basketball
TOMS RIVER, N.J. -- Well, first things first: Ramses Barden made it through the basketball game unscathed. And if his two soaring tomahawk dunks were any indication, the Giants' oft-injured wide receiver has recovered from the leg injuries that plagued him last season.
Oh, and for those keeping score: the Giants one-upped the Cowboys again . . . sort of. The NYG Hoopsters topped the Doomsday Defenders, 70-63, Saturday night in the Doomsday Shootout basketball exhibition at Pine Belt Arena.
The event, organized by Cowboys fans James Kanowitz and Joe Covino, featured rosters composed mostly of retired Giants and Cowboys, and 16 fans who paid $500 to play with the gridiron stars. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Make a Wish Foundation, Kanowitz said.
The 6-6 Barden, the only current Giant, led the Hoopsters with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists. Former Giants wideout Stephen Baker -- at 47 and having "not played much basketball since I was 8" -- added 14 points.
"I didn't go too hard because I know where my bread is buttered and I wouldn't want to jeopardize anything," said Barden, 26, a former high school basketball star in California. Injuries have held Barden, a 2009 third-round pick, to 17 career games. He played in only eight games last season. "I'm healthy now and I'm excited about the opportunities ahead of me."
The Hoopsters roster, coached by comedian Artie Lange, included former Giants Odessa Turner, Sean Landeta, Keith Hamilton and Everson Walls . . . yes, Everson Walls, who spent nine years with the Cowboys and two seasons, near the end of his career, with the Giants. "But I did get a Super Bowl with the Giants [in 1990]," the former Pro Bowl defensive back joked.
The Doomsday Defenders, coached by "Mr. Cowboy" Bob Lilly and Alvin Harper, featured former Cowboys Michael Downs, Bill Bates and Leon Lett. The current players were tight end John Phillips (19 points) and Jesse Holley, a wide receiver who played in Dallas last season but signed with the Patriots in June.
The event included a Q&A session with players, autograph signings and the sale of merchandise -- mostly Cowboys gear. Tony Romo and Miles Austin jerseys were the most common among the crowd of about 2,000. "Cowboys fans in Central Jersey are an example of awful parenting," Lange, a New Jersey native and Giants fan, joked. Hamilton, a former defensive tackle, said he didn't mind the Cowboy-centric crowd "because we won . . . Whether it's football, golf or even swimming, we get fired up against those guys."
Barden's layup gave the Hoopsters a 52-51 lead with 8:41 left and they pulled away. Adam Spengler, one of the "regular Joes" on the team, nailed a three-pointer to push the lead to 64-55 with 5:15 left.
"Just like in football," said Chris Quercia, a Toms River native sporting a Victor Cruz jersey. "Every time they beat Dallas, it's the best feeling in the world."