Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The result of the 2010 Dodge Barrage dodgeball championship might be a bit unsettling for Jazz fans.
The team from Utah, after all, was defeated by the team from Los Angeles.
Making matters worse for Deron Williams' squad — featuring the All-Star point guard, Al Jefferson, Ronnie Price and some guy from Chicago named Kyle Korver — was how this L.A. team also included a player sporting a "Black Mamba" No. 24 shirt.
It wasn't, however, Kobe Bryant.
Even better news, this tournament was just for fun and pride. Better than that, actually. It was for charity.
All proceeds of the second-annual day-long dodgeball event will be evenly split to benefit the charitable foundations of Williams (Point of Hope), Price and Korver. The tourney included 64 teams — up from 48 last year — at $500 a pop.
"This is my favorite (fundraising) event," Williams said before his defending champion Ghostbusters squad took second place. "I like the golf tournament, too. But this is just a fun event for everybody, I think."
Spectators included. Not only were they treated to some intense action in the finals between the SoCal team loaded with dodgeball ringers going against competitive NBA athletes. But those at the Salt Palace Convention Center also got glimpses of much of the 2010-11 Jazz team. They didn't play with Williams' team, but Paul Millsap, new picks Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Evans, along with a "Beat L.A."-cheering Othyus Jeffers, all showed up to support the cause. Multiple invitees to the Jazz's upcoming training camp were also there, including forwards Demetris Nichols and Ryan Thompson.
"I really appreciate them coming out and supporting," Williams said. "The rookies didn't really have a choice; it was mandatory that they be here. But everybody else we appreciate them coming out and supporting us."
Hayward smiled when asked why some Jazz players weren't participating.
"We got cut," the Butler rookie joked.
Price said the strong showing of Jazz players was a testament of the team's strong chemistry, adding that it "shows a lot about our team." The players, who officially reunite next Monday for camp, participated in a morning pick-up game before their dodgeball day began. A group also got together to play cards Friday night, showing the ongoing bonding isn't just happening on sports courts.
"We're just really excited to get the season on the way and start seeing how good we really are," Price said.
Even with the basketball season around the corner, Williams preferred to focus on his current sport.
"I'm just worried about this dodgeball tournament today," Williams said with a smile after being asked a non-dodgeball question about the Jazz. "We'll see y'all a week from Monday and we'll talk about the season all you want."
Williams laughed about the late addition of the 6-foot-10 Jefferson to the team (the Ghostbusters, not the Jazz).
"He's a big target, I know that," Williams said. "He better be able to catch it. He's got good hands."
Price chuckled when asked about the headbands the team wore along with light blue shirts with the famous crossed-out ghost.
"Just don't show Jerry (Sloan) this and we'll be all right," he said about the uniform accessory that wouldn't be approved by his NBA coach.
Price admitted he skipped on the formal dodgeball practice.
"I haven't (done) any training," he said, then joking, "but my wife throws a lot of things at me at the house, so I get a lot of practice."
The Ghostbusters might have to reconsider that strategy next year if the "Charles Bronson Make-a-Wish Foundation" team decides to defend its crown.
The teams might even continue their new rivalry in Utah and Chicago. With Korver joining the Bulls and Williams' connections to the University of Illinois, the NBA friends are considering hosting a future dodgeball tourney in the Windy City.
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