Filler Burger Meister

Local Basketball Great Sean Elliott Throws His Annual Bash.
By Tom Danehy

WELL, IT'S THAT time of year again. We're only two days away from the social event of the season--the Fifth Annual Sean Elliott Steak & Burger Dinner benefiting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson.

Danehy The fact that this is indeed the social event of the season tells you either that Tucsonans have a wonderful, down-to-earth quality about them, or it's merely a reflection of the fact that all the other social events revolve around goofy, old white-people stuff like opera.

For those of you who just moved to Tucson last week--boy, did you pick the wrong time to come here!--Sean Elliott is the best Tucson basketball player ever. A former College Player of the Year and two-time NBA All-Star, Sean grew up on the west side of town and spent much of his childhood summers at the old Steve Daru Boys Club.

When Sean hit the big time, he decided to give back to the community, the one which had nurtured him, the one which cheered his prep and collegiate basketball exploits, the one which forced him to eat all his meals in his car the last two years at UA lest his meal get cold and his autograph-signing hand cramp up.

The idea was born for the benefit dinner for the Boys & Girls Clubs.

The dinner, which serves as a modest fundraiser for the three Boys & Girls Clubs in Tucson, has a unique format. One-hundred-twenty young people from the three clubs--Steve Daru, Roy Drachman and Holmes Tuttle--will be seated among the adult guests and community leaders. A table for 10 costs $320, with the buyer getting eight seats and two seats going to deserving club members.

Dinner consists of steak for the kids and burgers for the adults. This allows the kids to not only meet community leaders, but also to sharpen their negotiating skills. There are some serious cash transactions going on.

Gov. J. Fife Symington III showed up one year. His entourage of bodyguards insisted on steaks and then he took an $8-million write-off on the Mercado project. He wasn't invited back the next year, but I think he showed up anyway. It was one of the few chances he'd get all year to get a photo opportunity with a black person.

I've never been much of a steak eater, and when I have eaten a steak in the past, I've always insisted it be cooked down to where it has the consistency of potato chips. In other years, I've gladly eaten the burgers at these dinners, but this year, it'll be tough. I gave up all meat for Lent, and when Easter rolled around, I decided to stay away from beef and pork until I reach a certain weight goal. (I have, however, eaten enough chicken to allow the Tyson folks to buy up all six states that touch Arkansas.) After six months, I'm still only at a point where I can see the vague outline of my goal off in the distance.

My photographer friend Maria Nasif, who could best be described as militantly pro-cabbage, told me that if I gave up meat for a few weeks I'd never go back. Hey, I dream of cheeseburgers every night. And bacon! Wow, I'd kill a pig to get some bacon. No wait, that's how it's done, isn't it?

All I know is that when I hit that magic number, my arteries are going to think I swallowed a lard bowling ball.

This year, I'm having everybody's salad.

Every year Sean promises one celebrity speaker and then shows up with another. One year David Robinson was going to come, but his halo was in the shop, so Steve Kerr and Danny Ferry filled in. Another year, Lute Olson was supposed to speak, but they sent a Lute Olson impersonator. It had to be a fake 'cause the guy made jokes that for the real Lute would have been almost risqué. Jokes about babies and stuff.

Last year, Grant Hill was supposed to show up. Sean must've really messed up big time because Hill showed up. Gave a nice speech and stayed to sign every single autograph that was asked of him. Gee, are you sure this guy is in the NBA?

The early word this year was that Damon Stoudamire was going to show up, but it appears the millionaire bachelor NBA Rookie of the Year has acquired a social life. Go figure. I still think he'll show up. Steve Kerr will be there, fresh off an NBA championship. Good for him.

The dinner is growing at an almost geometric rate. This year it'll be in the biggest room at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. Next year, they'll use the field at Hi Corbett; the following year, it'll be at Wildcat Stadium. And the year after that, the attendance will surpass the number of people who are out there trying to sell pre-paid phone cards.

My friend Dave Starbuck does the T-shirts for the dinner, and the design is always an eye-catcher. Dave goes a little bit overboard on the secrecy angle, refusing to show anybody the shirt until the night of the dinner. If the Manhattan Project had this kind of security, Julius and Ethyl Rosenberg would still be alive. They'd be really old, frustrated spy wannabes.

Plus, Russia never would've gotten the bomb until the design appeared in Popular Mechanics and all the Baby Boomers would've been able to grow up without having to do those stupid "Drop!" drills in school. But, I wander.

I'm looking forward to seeing Sean, but I have to be careful. If anybody out there attends, be careful. Remember not to ask Sean:

• If he's seen Steve Kerr's championship ring yet?

• If he's heard the latest hot new Jazz CD?

• Anything about Dennis Rodman.

I think the dinner's already sold out for this year, but they'd probably take your money and save you a seat for next year. TW

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