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Score: 108 Boys, 104 Bucs and $30,000 for charity

A celebrity game, Backstreet Boys vs. Buccaneers, is the first basketball sellout at the Sun Dome since 1984.

[Times photo: Ken Helle]
Nick Carter, of the Backstreet Boys, cheers his team on.

By BABITA PERSAUD

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 27, 2000


To all those who switch the radio dial as soon as a Backstreet Boys song comes on, this game was for you: The Bucs vs. The Boys.

Several Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including Warren Sapp, Shaun King and Brad Culpepper, pitted in a basketball game against Backstreet Boys Brian Littrell and Nick Carter.

Pewter power against, well, guys who can sing and dance.

photo
[Times photo: Ken Helle]
Brian Littrell, one of the Backstreet Boys, tries to go up and over Warren Sapp of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as he drives
towards the basket.

Who would win?

St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation. More than $30,000 was raised by the game for the Tampa Children's Hospital at St. Joseph's and St. Joseph's Women's Hospital in the celebrity charity game Sunday at the USF Sun Dome.

Carter, who is from Tampa, gave another $20,000 of his own money. And in a silent auction during the game, Littrell's jersey -- sweat-stained and autographed -- raised $4,300; Carter's jersey, $3,750; and King's, $1,000.

The game had all the clowning around of a Harlem Globetrotters' game. Sapp did a free throw backward, and King tried to pull down the shorts of the opposing side. Timeouts were taken for signing autographs, giving media interviews and posing for the cameras, including that of a freelance photographer from Teen Beat magazine.

The Boys had problems early in the game, with the announcer saying, "They don't seem in synch."

To make the teams even, disc jockeys from WFLZ-FM 93.3, organizers of the game, were used: Froggy, Jennifer Jordan and Dave the Dwarf from the MJ & BJ morning show. Also, a few WCW wrestlers showed up to play, including a sunglasses-wearing Hulk Hogan.

The only real basketball player there was Charlie Bradley, all-time scoring leader for the University of South Florida, who played on the Boys team.

The game was the idea of Carter, who did another fundraiser for St. Joseph's with the help of Brandon Ford and WFLZ a few weeks ago. He wanted to do more.

Before he was a star, Carter went to Young Middle School in Tampa and lived in Ruskin. And it was in Tampa that his mother discovered his star quality. While doing dishes one day, she heard her 9-year-old sing Bridge Over Troubled Water. She immediately went to the telephone book, found a vocal instructor and jump-started his career.

"I just want people to know I'm from here and this is where I grew up," he said.

At first, the charity game was going to be a golf tournament, but Carter doesn't play golf. So basketball it was, the Boys wearing purple jerseys, and the Bucs, white.

The final score was 108 Boys and 104 Bucs. The game was a sellout, the first basketball sellout at the Sun Dome since 1984.

Two seas dominated the arena. A sea of red. Those were the Buccaneers fans.

And a much larger sea, the screaming sea. "Boys are going to win," screamed Lianne McKelvey, 12. "Because Nick Carter is totally hot."

Another fan in the Boys camp was Sara Connell, 10, a leukemia patient at Tampa's Children's Hospital.

"This is great," said Sara, who wore a Backstreet Boys demin hat over her head and held up a poster board that read "TCH Roots for the Boys."

She said it was made by 10 other patients who were too sick to make the game.

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