HARVEY | Former NFL star wide receiver Terrell Owens captured the hearts of the fans Saturday from the minute he entered the court at Thornton High School to the chants of "T.O., T.O.,"
Owens finished with a game-high 29 points, as the McLegends team beat the Times Boys All-Stars 112-109 at the McLegends XI.
Thornton and Virginia basketbal star Mustapha Farrakhan had 25 points for the McLegends, who were comprised mainly of former and current NFL stars as well as former Bulls guard Craig Hodges.
The flamboyant Owens was anything but when talking about the fans.
"I am flattered that they were cheering for me," he said. "I have only been out (of the NFL) for a year and a half, but it was cool when I heard them shout my name. It was a humbling experience.
"Community events like this is what it is about. Pro (athletes) do a lot of these and this was for a good cause (Ronald McDonald House). I loved playing in this game and I loved winning it."
Owens had a big play with 49.2 seconds left after a missed free throw by by Kenyea Beach. The Boys' Jubril Adekoya grabbed the rebound, but Owens tied him up and the possession arrow was with the McLegends.
Bowman Academy's Antonio Pipkin led the Boys All-Stars with 18 points. Bloom Township' Johnny Griffin had 15 points, while Bowman's Linden Jackson had 12, including a pair of 3-pointers early in the first quarter.
Griffin had three dunks and two blocks and said it was something he will never forget.
"It was just great to play with all these celebrities," he said. "We came out here and wanted to win, but just couldn't. This is not something you do all the time and we had a great time."
Pipkin said he enjoyed playing with Illinois kids.
"These guys made me feel welcome and I thought we played well together," Pipkin said. "We pushed them (the NFL stars), but we just came up a little short at the end."
Valparaiso recruit Jubril Adekoya, from Andrew, had nine points, including a first-quarter 3-pointer. Crete-Monee's Marvie Keith had 12 points and loved playing against Farrakhan, a player he admired since he was a young kid.
"My dad used to bring me to Thornton games and I loved to watch him," said Keith after giving Farrakhan a celebratory hug. "To play on the same court with him and these guys you watch on TV, that is something I will never forget."
Neither will Farrakhan, who plays for the Iowa Energy of the NBDL, about his playing against Keith.
"It is humbling when someone who used to come and watch you tells you that," Farrakhan said. "Marvie is a good player. I have seen him in some summer leagues."
Thornton grad and state Sen. Napoleon Harris said beating boys coach Rocky Hill was a thrill. Hill coached Harris and Tai Streets at Thornton.
"It is good to win, but it is kind of dofun to beat your former coach," Harris said. "Rocky was a good and his team almost beat us."