Hedge Funds Dunk Private Equity in Wall Street’s Charity Hoops

The Hedge Fund team got the better of Private Equity for the second straight year in a charity basketball game that has raised more than $4 million for youth programs in New York City.

The 13th annual Net Gain Tournament was held last night at New York University and the 20-team, round-robin event tipped off with a Wall Street showdown between hedge-fund managers and private-equity executives.

After the final buzzer sounded, Hedge Fund team captain Rob Platek, a partner at MSD Capital LP, raised the trophy in the air and received congratulations from honorary coach John Starks, who played for the National Basketball Association’s New York Knicks from 1990-98.

“That’s the way it should be,” said Platek, who wakes up at 4:30 a.m. almost every day to play basketball in Manhattan before heading to his Fifth Avenue office. “Private equity has been making all the money for years, we should finally get the victories.”

The annual charity tournament helps pay for court time for 17 high schools and 400 New York City students who don’t have a place to play basketball. The event is hosted by Youth I.N.C. (Improving Nonprofits for Children), which was founded 17 years ago by Steve Orr, a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

“I’ve used all my contacts to convince those around me in the financial industries to get involved,” Orr, who left Goldman Sachs in 1991, said in a courtside interview at NYU’s Coles Sports Center. “I’d say 90 percent of our support at Youth I.N.C. comes from the financial industry.”

‘Old and Rusty’

Orr promised the Hedge Fund vs. Private Equity clash would showcase “complete trash talk” and “terrible players” having a lot of fun. The 15-minute, full-court game was indeed a low-scoring affair, with more turnovers and miscues than successful jump shots.

The Private Equity squad pulled within 12-10 with about a minute and a half remaining on a baseline jumper by team captain Ted Virtue, founder and chief executive of MidOcean Partners. The Hedge Fund team responded with a layup at the other end and pulled out a 14-12 victory.

“We just couldn’t get it to drop,” Virtue said in an interview after the game. “We’re old and rusty.”

Private Equity probably could have used the services of Ronald Blaylock, co-founder of GenNx360 Capital Partners and a one-time teammate of ex-Knick Patrick Ewing during his playing days at Georgetown University.

Blaylock, 50, a co-chairman of the Net Gain Tournament who had to sit out last night’s game because of an injury, was on hand to cheer on his Private Equity teammates.

‘Venture Philanthropy’

“It’s a fun game and it generates some buzz,” Blaylock said just before tipoff. “So many youth are underserved in New York City and anything that helps these organizations grow and develop is almost what we call venture philanthropy. It’s like a venture capital model.”

Starks was among a group of Knicks alumni to help coach the players and interact with the kids competing in the tournament. Charles Smith, John Wallace and Mel Davis were also in attendance, joined by 175 members of the Wall Street community, organizers said.

The Hedge Fund squad retained the trophy it first won last year and evened the 4-year-old rivalry at two games apiece. After the contest, participants already were looking ahead to next year, when they’ll again get to trade wingtip shoes for high-tops.

“It was still a good, competitive game,” Virtue said. “We’ll get them next year.”

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