Baller's Ball

In late July, the Houston Rockets traded All-Star point guard Steve Francis, guard Cuttino Mobley and forward Kelvin Cato to the Orlando Magic for All-Star Tracy McGrady and some throw-in players. Sports rhetoric aside, one of the main reasons for the trade was character. "Francis is selfish, he isn't a leader," one fan wrote online. "He's got thugs who bully fans at games," complained talk radio fans, even calling the man once referred to as "Franchise" a "lowlife." Meanwhile, Houston media has bestowed the teammate-dissing McGrady with deity status (see Hair Balls, "Houston Sports Legend," July 15). Meanwhile, Francis returns to town this weekend for the Summer Fiesta Slam Fest. This annual event is put on by the Steve Francis Foundation, which raises money for the Boys and Girls Club and other charities. Friday, the "lowlife" will host a youth job forum, a skill camp for kids, a charity bowling challenge game and a party, followed on Saturday by another youth skills clinic, a scholarship luncheon and a floating party in Galveston. Sunday caps off with an All-Star celebrity hoops game and an after-party at M Bar. Yes, clearly we're better off now that "selfish" Francis has left Houston. The Fiesta beings at 9 a.m. Friday, August 27. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas. For a full schedule of events, call 866-446-8849 or visit www $10 to $125. -- Steven Devadanam

Fulla Hot Air

FRI 8/27

Considering the hazards and costs of airline travel these days, hot-air ballooning doesn't seem like such a bad way to get around. You can get your fill of dirigibles at this weekend's RE/MAX Ballunar Liftoff Festival. While 100 hot-air contraptions lift off from NASA's Rocket Park, skydivers will perform aerial acrobatics and hang gliders will soar through the air. There'll even be a special appearance by the world's biggest hot-air balloon, the Energizer Hot Hare. Some stats: At 166 feet tall, the Bunny is 15 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. His sandals are 60 feet long, 12 feet wide and four feet high, making his shoe size a 98 EEEE. (We're guessing he doesn't have much trouble getting a date.) 6 p.m. Friday, August 27. Through Sunday, August 29. 1601 NASA Road 1. For a full schedule, call 281-488-7676 or visit Free; $4 parking. -- Steven Devadanam

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