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LeBron James and Rudy Gay highlight Mississippi charity game while lockout negotiations continue in New York

With the lockout in its 133rd day, the league and the players are meeting again on Thursday following an 8-hour session on Wednesday that left many feeling cautiously optimistic that a deal was close.  The two sides are probably closer to a new CBA right now then at any other time since the lockout began on July 1st, but there are still a lot of details that have to be agreed upon before we can finally say that we're going to play basketball this season. 

Hopefully in the near future we'll be looking ahead to the upcoming season, but at least in the absence of NBA games we have still been able to watch our favorite players compete in different charity and exhibition games.  The Heat's LeBron James has played in several of those games, the latest of which came on Tuesday night, and he and his fellow locked-out peers put on quite a show.

The game was hosted by Rudy Gay of the Memphis Grizzlies and it took place at the DeSoto Civic Center, located about 10 miles south of Memphis in Southaven, Mississippi.  The 6,000 or so fans that about half-filled the small building were treated to quite a show, as LeBron James' Blue Team beat Rudy Gay's White Team 158-151. 

LeBron put up 43 points while Gay turned in a game-high 45.  Helping James and the Blue team come away with the win was Detroit Pistons guard Terrico White with 29 points.  The stars were mostly on Gay's White Team though, which included Kevin Durant adding 29 points of his own and Grizzlies rookie Josh Selby popping in 32. 

Other players making appearances were Tyreke Evans, Kyle Lowry, Ronnie Brewer and Jarret Jack.  Also showing up was former NBA star Anfernee ‘Penny' Hardaway, who added 8 points and got a lot of love from the fans.  Hardaway, who briefly played for the Heat during their 15-win, 2007-08 season, is from Memphis and still does a lot of charity work in the area.

In fact, Penny spent the afternoon in nearby Cordova, Tennessee to announce his involvement in a $20 million sports complex.  Joining Hardaway at the dedication was LeBron James, who was there to show support for his good friend Penny.  Back at the game, fans were not shy about showing their love to Hardaway, even breaking out in a "PE-NNY PE-NNY" chant during the final minute and going crazy when he sank a jumper with about 30 seconds left. 

The game was a lot of fan for the fans, with lots of highlight reel dunks and long 3-pointers (some from close to half-court).  It's a far cry from what an NBA game would offer, but hopefully the lockout will be over soon and we'll be able to enjoy some of the high-quality basketball that we're all accustomed to this time of year.