On Thursday night, New York Giants star defensive lineman and two time Super Bowl champion Justin Tuck hosted his annual celebrity billiards tournament at the Flatiron pool lounge Slate, a charity event he holds to raise money to fight illiteracy. The event was co-sponsored by RXR Realty, whose chief executive Scott Rechler (who was ranked a lofty number four on The Commercial Observer’s Power 100 list) is one of the city’s most prolific and successful investors. The night featured a collection of celebrities, real estate executives and of course, pro athletes, including more than a few stars from the Super Bowl champion Giants.
6:30 – The red carpet in front of Slate is jam packed with cameras and media. The Commercial Observer slinks to its place in the queue hoping to snag Justin Tuck, who is doing an interview at the other end. He is sharply dressed in a suit vest and check shirt that are snug on his massive frame. Though the press list promises oodles of pro athletes and celebrities, including Method Man and the boxer Bernard Hopkins, besides an animated Mr. Tuck, the red carpet so far is empty. Since The CO is a novice to such events we turn to an undoubtedly more veteran fellow media professional, a camera man with the Yes Network. Is it typical at an event like this for everyone to be fashionably late? “They all suck,” he replies curtly.
6:32 – The sexy Vivica A. Fox arrives in an almost see-through glitter shirt, white jeans and pumps. The CO pauses in its futile attempts to conjure X-ray vision and says hello. “I’m here to show a little girl power,” she tells the crowd, reminding everyone she made it to the finals of Mr. Tuck’s charity pool tournament two years ago.
6:40 – Jeanette “Black Widow” Lee, a professional pool player, walks down the red carpet assuring that Vivica won’t be the only fine-looking lady in the house, nor the only one sexily dressed. She wears a plunging black dress. We wonder how she’s going to lean over to hit those shots.
6:45 – Mr. Tuck, always generous to the media, is still giving interviews and posing for photos. “If you don’t get off the carpet and inside we’ll be here all night,” one of his publicists calls out to him.
6:46 – Former Giants running back Ryan Grant, who was also a teammate of Mr. Tuck’s at Notre Dame, expresses confidence when asked if his pool game is as good as his former teammate’s. “I don’t think he’s got a better anything than me… except two rings.”
6:50 – Speaking of Super Bowl rings, Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn, who made a clutch interception in the Giants’ thrilling Super Bowl win over New England, shows up with his two (he was also on the team for its title in 2007). Won’t they interfere with his pool game? They’re practically the size of brass knuckles. “I’m going to have to take them off,” he tells The CO.
7:00 – Giants safety Kenny Phillips arrives.
7:05 – The one and only Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants’ all-pro defensive end, poses for photos. In person he looks even bigger than on TV crashing through 350-pound lineman and sacking quarterbacks. Is beating Justin Tuck at billiards going to be as fun as suplexing Tom Brady at the big dance? “It should be,” he says cooly. The CO asks if Mr. Pierre-Paul will do back flips if he wins, referring to the unreal You-Tube video of the 280-pound superstar lithely doing back flips over and over at training camp until he finally dizzily sits down on the turf. “What? No. I’m wearing jeans.”
7:12 – The CO notices New York Liberty star Cappie Pondexter’s tattoos, including a pistol on her hand, which we surmise will definitely intimidate opponents and help her win. “I got that three years ago,” she said. “I have tattoos all over my back.”
7:20 – John Starks, The CO’s childhood basketball hero is here! He looks incredibly suave in a pair of Ray Ban aviators. “I’m going to have to take these off inside.” No stranger to biased sources, The CO has a question: who’s naturally better at pool, basketball or football players? “Foot-… no I mean basketball players!” Mr. Starks replies. Freudian slip? “No!”
7:35 – Tumble weeds are blowing down the red carpet. The CO heads inside Slate, bumping into Mr. Tuck on the way. We tell him Mr. Pierre-Paul declared he will win the tournament. “Yeah right!” Mr. Tuck replies. We ask Mr. Tuck if he’s tight with Scott Rechler, RXR’s chief executive and a sponsor of the event. “I love Scott,” Mr. Tuck said. So any real estate joint ventures in the works? “Hopefully, we’ve been talking about it.”
7:46 – The tournament begins as Mr. Tuck faces off against Chase Blackburn. Mr. Tuck misses his first shot but makes up for it on his next turn, sinking a long corner pocket. He wins the game.
7:51 – Scott Rechler watches from the sidelines as Mr. Tuck wins. He’s not playing in the tournament. “I like to put the event on and let others play,” he says. Bill Elder, Mr. Rechler’s crackerjack leasing director, also is just observing tonight. “I’m good at golf, not pool,” Mr. Elder says.
8:15 – Giants defensive end Osi Umenyora walks up to Mr. Tuck and gets a big hug. Usually cheerful and outgoing, Mr. Umenyora is noticeably glum. He hasn’t gotten the big time contract extension he has been seeking from the Giants and earlier that day fired his agent. The CO tells Mr. Umenyora that the Giants wouldn’t be the same without him. We mean it Osi, we love you. “Thank you,” he says graciously.
8:20 – John Starks sinks a huge shot, the night’s most impressive so far.
8:23 – Jared Fogle, spokesman for the sandwich shop chain Subway, uses a billiards bridge to hit a nice shot and put his team an eight ball away from winning the game. But his partner scratches on the next shot bumping them out in the first round. “Would your partner have sunk that ball with better nutrition?” We ask. “He didn’t have his Subway today,” Mr. Fogle says.