As Rod Stewart would say, tonight's the night. Orange County gets its own pair of Dream Teams, and the reason is no less significant than the 1992 Olympic gold brought home by the original squad.
To raise $50,000 for the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, MTV has organized a basketball game tonight at UCI's Bren Events Center that will bring together NBA greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (retired L.A. Laker), Bobby Hurley (Sacramento Kings), Shawn Kemp (Seattle SuperSonics, and Dream Team II, which won the world championships in Toronto this summer), Reggie Miller (Indiana Pacers) and Chris Webber (Golden State Warriors).
As an added attraction, Seattle Mariner Ken Griffey Jr., suddenly free for the remainder of what was to be the baseball season, will be playing.
Rounding out the teams will be Hollywood celebrities including Queen Latifah ("Living Single"), Joey Lawrence ("Blossom"), Dean Cain ("Lois and Clark") and David Alan Grier ("In Living Color"). Boyz II Men will sing at halftime.
Actually, Grier won't be playing. He's benched, but he's not crying foul.
"I cannot play at all," he explained by phone earlier this week. "I have absolutely no basketball ability. I was booted off the court as a kid. I auditioned for 'White Men Can't Jump' and scored 1 point for the other team. People thought I was just being funny."
Given that background, he has been appointed the designated color commentator and will work with Detroit sportscaster Van Earl Wright to keep the fans enlightened. That's the game plan, anyway.
"We'll be like real sportscasters," Grier said, "trying to get the players to strike."
Definitely on strike will be a couple of his creations from "In Living Color": elderly bluesman Calhoun Tubbs and gay film critic Antoine Merriweather.
"Antoine will not be there. Absolutely not. I'm just going to be having a lot of fun. That's what works best for something like this, instead of planning little bits."
Grier does, however, take the cause seriously, tracing his involvement to when he was doing "In Living Color" on Fox and worked with foundation co-founder Elizabeth Glaser, the wife of actor Paul Michael Glaser ("Starsky and Hutch"). The Glasers' daughter Ariel died of AIDS in 1988 after contracting the virus through breast milk from Elizabeth, who had been infected through a blood transfusion.
\o7 * Tip-off for MTV's fourth annual "Rock 'n' Jock" B-Ball Jam tonight is 7:30 at the Bren Events Center on the UCI campus. $8 for adults, $6 for students. (714) 856-5000, box office; (714) 740-2000, Ticketmaster. \f7