and McGrady.

Two East All-Stars pledge $1,000 per point

By Marc Stein

If you notice Tracy McGrady and Jermaine O'Neal calling for the ball more than usual in the forthcoming All-Star Game, there's a good reason.

McGrady and O'Neal both pledged to donate $1,000 for each point that they score for the Eastern Conference -- McGrady to the Florida Children's Hospital in Orlando and O'Neal to the Housing Authority, with the funds split between branches in Indianapolis and his hometown of Columbia, S.C. An official announcement is expected Thursday.

"Those kids, along with all Orlando Magic fans, will be on my mind on All-Star Sunday," McGrady said.

McGrady and O'Neal have grown close through their association with USA Basketball and as young stars in the East with much in common. The idea to stage a friendly competition for charity in the All-Star Game grew out of their joint venture at last year's All-Star Game, when both players invited the mothers and children from families whose fathers were away serving the country in the Iraq war.

McGrady will be playing in his fourth straight All-Star Game. He scored 29 points in last February's game in Atlanta. O'Neal, an Indiana Pacers forward-center, will be making his third consecutive appearance. He scored 10 points in Atlanta.