Though 6,234 people came out to watch some Georgia basketball at the second annual "Stegmania" on Friday night, it was really the guest appearances from Bill Goldberg and Blanco Brown that made it worth their while.
The night started with Goldberg, the former WWE wrestler and University of Georgia football player, stepping out to center court with fire and smoke at his back to introduce the men’s and women’s teams.
Goldberg went from screaming at the top of his lungs trying to get the Stegeman Coliseum crowd on its feet to flexing his muscles for the big screen. Women’s basketball head coach Joni Taylor described his energy as “infectious,” but said he brought more to the table than just his liveliness.
“[Goldberg talked about] how he wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing now if he had not come to the University of Georgia, and it just gives you chill bumps,” Taylor said. “He had a chance to visit with our girls today after we got out of practice and they all [had their] eyes locked in, laser-focused, hanging on every word.”
Freshman guard Anthony Edwards said he had not interacted much with Goldberg, but appreciates his support nonetheless.
“I don’t really know too much about him, but I appreciate him coming and showing us love,” Edwards said. “We love it.”
Blanco Brown, who’s best known for his debut single "The Git Up," came out to perform at midcourt after the three-point contest and other activities, getting everyone in the crowd and on the floor dancing.
The women’s basketball bench was particularly full of life, dancing in rhythm as Brown performed some of his own music as well as a cover of Outkast’s "Ms. Jackson." Taylor referenced an Instagram account from senior forward Stephanie Paul that is completely dedicated to dancing and said her team could dance to “anything.”
“Obviously to have Blanco here, he’s from the state of Georgia, to get the crowd hyped and to get everyone behind him and dance, our girls loved it,” Taylor said.
Goldberg and Brown then judged the dunk contest together and sat back as the men’s team scrimmaged to close out the night.
The Red Team brought out a starting five of Rayshaun Hammonds, Sahvir Wheeler, Jordan Harris, Toumani Camara and Donnell Gresham Jr., while the White Team brought out Anthony Edwards, Tyree Crump, Amanze Ngumezi, Tye Fagan and Christian Brown. The Red Team won by a score of 37-27, with Harris and Hammond hitting a few threes each and Camara putting freshman Jaykwon Walton on a poster.
The game was filled with highlights across the board, but men’s head coach Tom Crean believed it was more about having fun than getting a look at how his team looks going into the 2019-20 season.
“We just wanted to sit back and enjoy it,” Crean said. “We learned a few things from it, but it’s not a film that we’ll go and study and watch. It’s more for them to have fun and enjoy.”