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Charity Game Set Without Jordan

Michael won't even be playing, and courtside tickets will still cost $1,000.

A long-rumored exhibition game featuring locked-out NBA players was finally announced Monday by agents David Falk and Arn Tellem.

"The Game on Showtime" is set for Dec. 19 in Atlantic City, N.J., with the proceeds going to charity and to NBA players in financial need.

"If you look at people who play professional sports, not a lot of them are financially secure," union president Patrick Ewing said. "They make a lot of money, and they also spend a lot of money. "

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  • "Me, I'm financially secure, but there a lot of others who aren't. Our objective is to help these people. No matter how much money they've made throughout their careers, if they're in need now then it's up to us to try and help them," Ewing said.

    Thirteen players are committed to play, and organizers hope to have a total of 16 players who were members of the four Dream teams -- the 1992 and 1996 Olympic teams and the 1994 and 1998 World Championship teams.

    Ewing, Karl Malone, Penny Hardaway, Tim Hardaway, Allan Houston, Reggie Miller, Alonzo Mourning, Tom Gugliotta, Gary Payton, Dominique Wilkins, Vin Baker, Glen Rice and Mitch Richmond have committed.

    Among those who have not are Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Isiah Thomas, Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Grant Hill and John Stockton.

    Derrick Coleman and Larry Johnson, members of the 1994 World Championship team, were not invited.

    Michael Jordan's absence

    Allan Houston
    Allan Houston will play Dec. 19. (AP)
    is particularly noteworthy because Falk, his agent, is one of the main organizers.

    "Michael has said he won't make a decision about returning to professional basketball or retiring until the lockout is over," said Curtis Polk, president of Falk's sports management company. "We did talk to Michael about the game, obviously, and Michael feels he needs to stand by his earlier statement that he'll wait for a resolution of the lockout before he makes that decision. He wouldn't want to send the fans a sort of mixed message by his participation in this game."

    Ewing said Jordan might show up, but won't play.

    The Atlantic City game will be the latest in a recent string of exhibitions involving locked out players. Games were held last weekend in Miami and Dallas, and another is scheduled for next Sunday in Los Angeles.

    Jay Larkin, executive producer of Showtime, would not reveal how much the cable network was paying for the broadcast rights.

    Polk said the largest expense would be insurance, with every player covered for $20 million against a career-ending injury.

    None of the players will be paid, and no criteria have been established for determining which players will share in the proceeds.

    Mourning said they're not asking for the fans' sympathy and added that few people realize how many financial obligations players have. The lockout, now 23 weeks old, has caused the first two months of the season to be scrapped. No new negotiations are planned.

    "The average life expectancy of a player is four or five years, and in that time we try to make as much money as we can in as short a period of time to try to build a strong financial base for the rest of our lives," Mourning said.

    "We do have a lot of expenses. Everybody's hands are out and you try to help as many people as you can. And this game right here is a way to support the guys who are struggling financially at this time," he said.

    Organizers hoped to raise at least $1 million in proceeds. The game will be held at the Atlantic City Convention Center, which seats about 17,000. Tickets will cost from $25 to $1,000.

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