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Counting down the final month to the ACC
by Aaron Retherford
Jun 18, 2012 | 755 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune file photo - Former NBA star Charles Barkley is a fan favorite at the American Century Championship.
Tribune file photo - Former NBA star Charles Barkley is a fan favorite at the American Century Championship.
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The 23rd annual American Century Championship is still a month away, but excitement for the event featuring 80 sports and entertainment stars is already growing.

Two former NBA champions took time out of their busy schedules for a conference call Monday to talk about their experiences at the annual golf tournament, which will be held July 17-22 at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.

Jason Kidd, a member of the 2011 NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, will be playing in his 14th event at Lake Tahoe. He is a 100-1 favorite to win. Kidd, who has ties to the Bay Area, said it was especially enjoyable coming out last summer after winning his first NBA championship.

“Winning a championship definitely didn’t help my golf game, but being in the same light as some of the greatest players ever to play the game, like Michael Jordan, guys who won championships…Being able to be in that same light was a great honor,” Kidd said. “When you’re talking about the American Century Championship, they put on a great tournament. Tahoe alone is beautiful, but what the people American Century do for us up there for a week, it’s a lot of fun.”

Steve Kerr won five championship rings during his NBA career and is a former Phoenix Suns GM. Kerr has not played at the ACC tournament since 2005, but this will be his fifth time. He was unavailable for the event once he joined management in Phoenix. Kerr’s odds of winning are 15-1.

“It’s been awhile. It’s just a great week. The whole event is fantastic. It’s so much fun,” Kerr said. “I got away from it when I went to Phoenix to work in management and I had a real job that kept me away from golf. Now that I’m back in the TV world, I have more free time in the summer, and I’m really excited to get back into the American Century tournament and spend the week up there. I’ll bring my family up there. It’s one of the most fun weeks of the year. I think all the guys who play in it say that. They all like that it’s a fantastic week.”

Kidd’s performance at the ACC has been improving over the past few summers. He hopes that trend continues next month.

“I hope so. I love the game of golf. Unfortunately, I’ve had a little more time this summer to practice and play. I’d rather be playing in the finals,” Kidd said. “I’ve always enjoyed playing golf and coming back to Tahoe. Being from the Bay Area, it’s always great to come back because it’s a beautiful place and it’s just a lot of fun seeing guys out there playing the game we love. We’re not professional at it, but it’s good laughing at ourselves.”

With the long layoff from the tournament, Kerr doesn’t have a trend he’d like to continue. However, he was a solid competitor when he was participating in the event.

Still, he doesn’t believe he’ll finish atop the leaderboard this year.

“I won’t be up there with the Chris Chandlers and Billy Joe Tollivers of the world. I won’t be a threat to win it,” Kerr said. “Broadcasting has been good to my golf game. It’s given me more chance to work at it. I’m looking forward to putting up a good showing.”

Both Kidd and Kerr both agreed there isn’t much carryover from basketball to golf. Basketball is fast-paced and relies on instinct, while the slower you play golf, the better off you are usually. The main crossover is the nervousness you feel and the competitive nature.

This year’s tournament will be televised by NBC on the Saturday and Sunday of that week. Other names in the event include Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Tony Romo, Ray Romano, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith and newcomers Jason Witten, Christian Ponder, Donald Driver and Shawne Merriman.
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