The 700 Level's Vegas All Star Weekend Wrap Up (It took a Week to Recover)

The 700 Level's Vegas All Star Weekend Wrap Up (It took a Week to Recover)


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.

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.

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

As Eagles enter bye, Doug Pederson aims to thwart complacency

The Eagles are 3-0. They’re alone atop the NFC East and have been the biggest surprise of the young NFL season.

Doug Pederson’s message to his team: You haven’t done anything yet.

Although the Eagles are riding high, Pederson doesn’t want his team to change its outlook or hard work. That’s what teams have to worry about once they’ve found some success.

“The biggest thing is complacency,” Pederson said Monday. “You think you've arrived. You think you are all that. When that creeps in, that's when you get beat. It's my job not to let that creep in. I've got to keep the guys focused and grounded. I told them this week they're going to travel and go home and people are going to pat them on the back and say how great they are.

“But next Monday, I'm going to tell them, ‘Hey, we're back to work. We're 0-0. This is Game 1 and let's go.’ That's just the way it has to be. You are building for one ultimate goal and that's a few weeks down the road. That's what you are trying to get to. But you can't get there unless you take care of the next opponent. It's my job to keep them focused that way.”

Being 3-0 (they’re one of five 3-0 teams) gives the Eagles a head start, but it certainly doesn’t guarantee them a playoff spot. This is the ninth 3-0 start in franchise history. They’ve made the playoffs just five times in the previous eight. And they recently missed the playoffs after starting 3-0 in 2014 under Chip Kelly.

In NFL history (before this season), there have been 276 teams to start with 3-0 records. Of them, 200 (72.3 percent) have made the playoffs.

“We just have to approach it the same, one day at a time,” Pederson said. “That's the way this business goes. You are on top of the world one minute, and you can be at the bottom of the heap the next. Just got to keep things even-keeled and can't get too high, can't get too low. Approach it the same. Like I mentioned earlier, you can't substitute for hard work. That pays off on Sundays. We just have to stay the course. Again, a lot of football left.”

While the Week 4 bye comes pretty early, the Eagles have a couple key players who will use the time to get healthy. And Connor Barwin pointed out that the bye is coming about closer to the halfway point between when the team started its tough training camp and the end of the season.

Pederson told his players to use the week to get away from football and free their minds. Meanwhile, Pederson and his coaches will use the extra time to self-scout and prepare for the final 13 games of the regular season.

With a first-year head coach and a rookie quarterback who was thrust into action a week before the opener, expectations outside (and perhaps inside) the building were tempered.

The Eagles aren’t an underdog anymore.

“We kind of enjoyed flying under the radar, but obviously a win like this against a team like the Steelers will open some eyes around the league,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “For us, nothing different. We’ll keep our preparation the same. We’ll stick our heads down and focus on the work day to day and understand what’s gotten us to 3-0.”

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Ivan Provorov displays durability, versatility in Flyers' preseason loss

Ivan Provorov displays durability, versatility in Flyers' preseason loss

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. — How much of a horse is Flyers defensive prospect Ivan Provorov?

Well, consider this:

The 19-year-old logged a game-high 28:48 of ice time Monday night during the Flyers' 2-0 split-squad loss to the Devils in which he also quarterbacked the first-unit power play (8:03) and had the most penalty kill time (3:58) (see story).

“I thought I played well,” Provorov said. “It took me a few shifts to get into the game. I competed as hard as I could.”

He said he was used to playing more than 25 minutes in Brandon (WHL), anyway.

“Of course, this is a better league, high pace and it will take a few games to adjust,” Provorov said.

Because the Flyers have yet to work on power play, the results aren’t there. They were 0 for 7 in the game.

“We haven’t done anything on the ice, but have done some video on the PK on the board but nothing on the power play,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “There’s other priorities now with so many players (64) in camp.”

Provorov worked both points on the power play and had just one official shot in the game.

“We didn’t get to do much power play [in camp],” he said. “It will get better as the preseason goes on.”

Rookie forward Travis Konecny worked the low slot on the top power play. He logged 18:34 of ice time, including 6:01 PP time. Konecny had two shots in the game.

He was on Andy Miele’s line with Scott Laughton. Konency had the only shots on his line.

Hakstol said Konecny and Provorov each “settled in” as the game went on. Hakstol isn’t sure if one or both will play Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center against the Islanders.

Konecny’s body language in camp exudes confidence unlike a year ago when he was skittish in his first-ever Flyers training camp. Now he sits back, takes it all in and has that look on his face of been there, done that.

In fact, he was trying to calm down some of his buddies, Anthony Salinitri and Connor Bunnaman, who were seeing the lights before the game.

“Me and [Ivan] Provorov were just talking,” he said. “We feel a lot more comfortable this year.

“I’ve been in this position here. I have my guys Salinitri and Bunnaman, we all hang out together and it’s their first year.

“They’re excited for their first preseason game just like I was last year, but I’m not thinking, ‘Wow, it’s an NHL arena.’ I’m thinking about the game and getting ready to play.”

Konecny was impressive last fall as an 18-year-old and Hakstol said he takes everything into account with more emphasis on the now than the past.

“Your body of work includes your season last year,” Hakstol  said. “Includes everything. The most important information is what you do right now. No question in my mind. I take everything into account.”

Take this into account: Alex Lyon is going to be a contender with Anthony Stolarz for the starting job in goal with the Phantoms this season. He was outstanding with 28 saves on 29 shots.

“They spent some time in our zone and had their big guns out there,” Lyon said of being under siege for two-thirds of the game. “They had a few shots but we did a good job keeping them to the outside. No super grade A opportunities.”

Lyon stopped two breakaways by Beau Bennett, one within three minutes of play.

“I felt like a newborn deer and could barely stand up,” quipped the former Yale goalie. “I was so nervous. It felt good to stop the first one.”