Magic Johnson to play in exhibition

Updated: November 23, 2011, 1:35 PM ET
By Ric Bucher | ESPN The Magazine

Add Hall-of-Famer Magic Johnson, former NBA All-Star Steve Smith and current Boston Celtics standout Paul Pierce to the list of players that have agreed to play in the "Obama Classic Basketball Game." Take Dwight Howard off that same list.

Howard withdrew from the game Tuesday, but did not reveal his reason. Johnson, Smith and Pierce join an already lengthy roster of participants for the Dec. 12 exhibition in Washington, D.C., which will help raise money for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.

The venue for the game has not been finalized, but a number of former and current NBA players already have committed to participate. They include: Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Ray Allen and Chris Bosh.

Sources also said Baron Davis, Vince Carter, Alonzo Mourning, Jamal Crawford, Rudy Gay, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Amare Stoudemire, Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansbrough, Derek Fisher, Antawn Jamison, Juwan Howard, Quentin Richardson, Dahntay Jones, Brandon Knight, Jerry Stackhouse, John Wall, Dikembe Mutombo, Patrick Ewing and Doc Rivers are expected to play. Veteran WNBA star and all-time leading scorer Tina Thompson and former USC great Cheryl Miller also is expected to participate.

Tickets, which range from $100 to $5,000 for courtside seats, are not on sale yet but will made available to the general public, an Obama campaign official said. Proceeds will go to the Obama Victory Fund, which is jointly held by the Democratic National Committee and Obama's re-election campaign.

Whether Obama will directly take part in the event was left an open question.

"The President's participation is to be determined," the campaign official said.

Obama treated himself to a pick-up game with several current and former NBA stars in August 2010. But his basketball exploits have been less publicized since an errant elbow in a game with White House staffers and officials required 12 stitches in the President's lip.

Ric Bucher is a senior NBA writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Ric Bucher

NBA Reporter, ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer

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