When Dan Dickau first started kicking around the idea of hosting his own charity basketball game, he had two goals in mind.
“I wanted to give something back to the community of Spokane, which had been so good to me while I was here,” explained the former Gonzaga University All-American and three-year NBA veteran, who averaged 13.2 points as the starting point guard for the New Orleans Hornets last winter.
“Plus, I wanted to play in that new building.”
Both goals will be met Saturday night, when the Toyota Dan Dickau Charity Classic plays out at GU’s McCarthey Athletic Center, the $25 million, 6,000-seat arena that opened last fall and serves as the home of Bulldogs basketball.
The charity event, which features teams comprised of current NBA players and former Zags, tips off at 7, with proceeds going to several local charities, including Catholic Charities, Camp Goodtimes and the Spokane Children’s Museum.
Event promoter John Hines said more than 2,000 tickets, priced at $30, $24 and $18, are still available.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Hines, the director of Northwest Sports & Entertainment, Inc., which also produces Gonzaga’s annual Battle in Seattle. “People are going to walk away knowing they’ve been to something special.”
Along with the chance to watch Dickau and several of his former GU teammates make their McCarthey Athletic Center debuts, those in attendance will be treated to myriad of games, contests and giveaways – including a trip to Mexico.
There will also be a pregame tribute to Ronny Turiaf, the former Zags standout and second-round draft choice of the Los Angeles Lakers, who underwent successful open heart surgery to repair an enlarged aortic root earlier this week at Stanford University Medical Center.
In addition, proceeds from the charity game’s Adopt a Player program will be used – along with in-kind contributions from spectators – to supplement a special fund for Turiaf, whose $1 million NBA contract was voided by the Lakers after they learned of his heart ailment.
“We wanted to be able to raise some money for Ronny, because he’s such a great person and because he’s done so much for Gonzaga,” Dickau said.
Hines was still in the process of finalizing the rosters for Saturday’s game, which has been sanctioned by the NBA and will feature NBA officials.
Among the NBA veterans expected to participate are Dickau; Casey Jacobsen of the New Orleans Hornets; Jannero Pargo and Jared Reiner of the Chicago Bulls; Luke Ridnour of the Seattle SuperSonics; Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks; Luke Jackson of the Cleveland Cavaliers; and Kyle Korver and Josh Davis of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Heading the list of former GU players on the roster are NBA free agent Richie Frahm, who played with the Portland Trail Blazers last season, Matt Santangelo, Zach Gourde, Blake Stepp, Winston Brooks, Richard Fox, Tony Skinner, Kyle Bankhead, Ryan Floyd, Alex Hernandez and Cory Violette.
Former Washington Huskies star Nate Robinson, a first-round draft pick of the New York Knicks, and former Seattle Prep standout Martell Webster, who was drafted directly out of high school by the Portland Trail Blazers, have also committed to playing.
“Once I decided it was a go, the hardest thing was getting guys to commit to playing in it three, four or five months in advance,” Dickau said. “The rosters have changed a few times, but I’m happy with the responses I’ve gotten from the NBA guys. And I’m really happy with the responses I’ve gotten from the Gonzaga guys.
“Everybody is really excited about the game.”
Dickau, who has been traded five times in the two years he has been in the NBA, is a free agent without a contract. He said he is leaving all of his contract negotiations up to his agent, Mark Bartelstein.
“There’s some interest out there, I guess,” Dickau said, “but nothing to get too excited about at this point.”
Still, he said he feels better about his NBA career after finally getting a chance to play meaningful minutes in New Orleans.
“But there is still a lot of room for growth in my game,” he added. “A lot of that is working on my body and my conditioning. I’ve had a good summer, but right about now is the time where you really start picking up the workouts and gearing up for training camp – wherever that might be.”
Dickau and his wife, Heather, are expecting their second child in February, which heightens the anxiety of not knowing where home will be come the start of the NBA season.
“But there’s been so much uncertainty to this point in my NBA career that it doesn’t seem all that bad,” Dickau said. “It’s certainly nothing that we haven’t dealt with or handled before.”
As for what to expect from him on Saturday night, Dickau admitted, “I might be a little rusty.
“I’m going to give it my best, but my game is still rounding into shape.”
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