Heard on the Hill

Members Lose Charity Basketball Game, but Honor Teammate Scalise

Lobbyists won 19th annual charity event for third year in a row

Dan Coen of KemPharm holds up the championship trophy after the lobbyists’ team defeated lawmakers, 49-41, in the 19th annual Congressional Basketball Classic on Tuesday. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)

The members’ team lost the Congressional Basketball Classic in one of the biggest showings of bipartisanship and Capitol Hill spirit since the Congressional Baseball Game.

Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was shot while practicing for the baseball game, has been a staple of the basketball game. Although he was on the roster, he wasn’t able to attend the game while still in recovery.

But colleague and friend Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy introduced three special guests — three others who were wounded in the shooting: lobbyist Matt Mika and Capitol Police special agents Crystal Griner and Doug Bailey.

[Matt Mika Throws Out First Pitch at Tigers’ Game]

“We just called Steve on the phone,” McCarthy said. “We have two people here who saved a lot of lives there on the baseball field. Crystral Griner, Doug Bailey, we owe you a whole lot of gratitude.”

Also in attendance was University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari.

Lobbyists beat the members, 49-41, in the 19th annual event, which raises money for the Hoops for Youth Foundation.

[Norman Makes Congressional Sports Debut at Charity Basketball Game]

The new name for the game’s most valuable player award, McCarthy announced, is the Heart of a Warrior MVP Steve Scalise Award, which was given to John Byrd of the Business Coalition for Fair Competition.

Another tribute was made for Jim Lyons, the longtime Senate Finance tax counsel who collapsed during the staffer-lobbyist game before the members’ game last year and later died. Since then, a scholarship fund has been created in his name.

The members’ game last year was postponed until November, when the members also lost. Tuesday night marked the third year in the row that lobbyists were victorious. 

[Finance Committee Mourns Loss of Longtime Republican Staffer]

The members team had a full bench of 13 players and those who got the most playing time were Reps. Cedric L. Richmond, D-La., who was the only Democrat on the team, and Reps. Ryan A. Costello, R-Pa., and Darin LaHood, R-Ill.

The freshmen who played were Reps. James R. Comer of Kentucky, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, and Ralph Norman of South Carolina, who tweeted some photographs from the game.

Other players included Reps. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., Jeff Denham, R-Calif., Will Hurd, R-Texas, John Moolenaar, R-Mich., David Valadao, R-Calif., and Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio.

Comer’s staffers held up a sign that said, “Get a congressman who can do both” with a photographs of Comer playing basketball and his official congressional photograph.

There were about 60 to 80 people in the crowd, many of whom also staffers cheering on their bosses.

The members led at halftime Tuesday, 27-19. Then they lost steam.

With 34 seconds left in the second half, LaHood sank a free throw to bring the members within five points at 46-41, but the lobbyists’ team scored the final three points to win decisively.

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