My flickr set: NBA All Star Weekend 2007 - Las Vegas
I've written about my adventures in Vegas in multiple smaller posts, so I'll link to them first all in one place for posterity's sake.
- In Search of Stephen A. & Elvis
- Philadlephia Freedom in Vegas
- Bill Walton Takes a Stroll on the Strip
- Reggie Bush Can Shoot the Rock
- Shaq vs. LeBron Dance Off
- Stadium seats do not consider people like Manute Bol
- NBA/TNT Party at Rain
- Nate Robinson is Short
- Gilbert Arenas Dunks off Trampoline at All Star Game
- An Interesting View of Christina Aguilera
- Shaq Diesel
- Leaving Las Vegas
- What is Missing from this Photo? A.I.
- The Seats: Michelle Wie
- How Many Celebs Can You Spot?
Perhaps you've read Bill Simmons or Jason Whitlock's take on the debauchery that took place in Las Vegas less than a 10 days ago. They seemed to think it was Gangbangerpalooza, a black eye on the NBA. I don't know, I didn't have that kind of experience. Mine was all positive. I'm going to take you on a walk down memory lane here -- or lack of it.
The trip kicked off on what you would have thought to be a bad start, being delayed for 5+ hours in miserably cold Philadelphia on Thursday night, but alas, we were going to Vegas, a little delay shant dampen our spirits. That's what the Jet Rock Bar in terminal C was made for at PHL. For those of you unfamiliar with the Jet Rock Bar, they serve some of the largest, coldest, tastiest beers a guy delayed from going anywhere could ever ask for. We closed down the Jet Rock bar and moved on to some Asian bar that's open all night. Next thing I knew, it was 4:00am and I'm in Vegas.
We had tickets to every NBA event in Las Vegas last weekend and we made it to a good portion of them. The two we missed which may or may not have been fun were the Rookie Game and the Legends Brunch. Missing the rookie game was a calculated decision, no regrets there. Missing the Legends Brunch on Sunday morning was more a choice made by God and Red Bull. I'm sorry I missed that one.
Friday: We hit up the celebrity game and the NBA Jam Session. The celebrity game wasn't anything worth writing about. It can be described with the image of Bobby Flay crossing up Carrot Top. Reggie Bush was impressive.
I played some three card poker at Mandalay Bay and my first and perhaps best celeb sighting of the weekend took place here. After getting TWO straight flushes in about a 30 minute span, I'm up about $1,500 (which lasted all weekend) I see 'Nique strolling toward me by himself in a full 3 piece grey suit. I'm in the middle of a hand, look up and make eye contact with Mr. Wilkins, give the head nod and he did the same in return and even mouthed a "how you doin." He was actually friendly. It was cool.
The Jam Session at Mandalay was actually pretty fun, we played some of the hoops challenges. Saw Jason Kidd, John Starks, and BJ Armstrong. Fun Mike's form was a little rusty.
We got hooked up with tickets to Elton John's Red Piano concert at Caesar's Coliseum. Say what you will, but Elton rocked and this is where we first learned that all of the events we had tickets to all weekend would be open bar. Dangerous. Interesting note: the Elton John concert was the only place in the entire city of Las Vegas where you couldn't find any black people. True story.
Following the Elton show, we were fairly banged up and decided to hang out in the war zone: The Strip. We didn't realize the danger we were in until we read Simmons and Whitlock days later. Although we were literaly within stones throw from the shooting outside Caesar's Friday night.
Hanging at some outside bar in front of Caesar's on the strip was AWESOME. A constant flow of interesting people coming by, a good buzz from the open bar at Elton, and Bill Walton strolls by bombed.
Saturday: we were back at it around 9:30 on Saturday morning to head back to Mandalay (home base was Monte Carlo) with tickets to watch the All Star's practice. This was pretty fun actually, Gilbert and Shaq made this worth all our while. See: Shaq vs. LeBron Dance Off. Perhaps my favorite picture of the weekend is LeBron mid-dunk.
I was trying to ask Tim Legler about his Eagle's cheerleader girlfriend but he kept ignoring me.
Everything starts earlier in Vegas and the Saturday night festivities -- Skills, 3 point, Dunk contests -- started at like 4, so we headed over to the Thomas and Mack for that. Poor Manute Bol couldn't even fit in his seat.
I was impressed by Nate Robinson and Dwight Howard, not so much with Gerald Green. This turned out to be a fun event. The dunk contest definitely had some flair to it. I was pulling for Gilbert in the 3 point shoot out, but he wasn't feeling it.
Following the dunk contest we headed over to the Palms for the NBA/TNT at Rain party where we ran in to Mike Miller and Nate Robinson. Nate doesn't like people from Philadelphia which is shocking. Despite having a really laid back vibe to it, we had a blast at this party. I got to chat with David Aldridge and saw The Tark. This is where the open bar and Red Bull really started to go in full effect. We spent a couple hours at this party. A little inside, a little by the pool, another Red Bull/vodka and we were rockin. The Goo Goo Dolls played which was cool. The events that took place between the time we left Rain and Sunday morning are the only portions of the weekend I will not tell you about.
Sunday: Fun Mike could barely move and I wasn't fairing much better. We didn't make it to the NBA Legends Brunch unfortunately. The guy I sat next to at the game on Sunday night said this was the best event of the weekend. All the old timers are nice and available and will talk to anyone. This is Vegas, you can't win 'em all.
The one thing every single person who was in Vegas experienced was the gridlock. Getting anywhere was a mess. Taxi lines were not fun. On Sunday, while waiting in a Taxi line to the game, a limo pulled up and gave us a ride to the T&M Center for $10 bucks.
The seats I had were absolutely sick, next to Michelle Wie and about 20 feet from Terrell Owens. I'm not going to lie and say the game was the most exciting aspect of the game because it wasn't. People watching, being so close to Christina, The HOF, Wayne Newton, it was an experience.
The highlight on the court was clearly the show Gilbert Arenas put on during one of the timeouts with the flying Elvi.
I hit up the NBA post game party at Tao at the Venetian. A pretty posh spot, ducked out pretty quickly to get some final gambling in and saw Rodman walk by with a couple of porn star looking chics. That's about it.
Vegas. Sick. I had an absolute blast and I think I had some good material on The 700 Level for you people. As far as entertainment value, I'd put my Walton, Shaq/Lebron, and Gilbert Trampoline up against anything ESPN or any big name site showed you. Little people can have fun too, just ask Nate.
Feel free to ask me questions in the comments, I'm sure I forgot lots of fun details. What do you want to know about Vegas? Also check out my full flickr set.