History is made this weekend -- no, not the BracketBusters again -- when the NBA brings its All-Star festivities to a non-franchise city, Las Vegas. The party league officially meets the party town. Yes, there's an influx of celebrity and tourism, but the event also brings a much needed hip-hop presence, and a lot more recreational activity than even this town is used to having in a single weekend:
Aladdin: Concerts with Nelly, Jermaine Dupri, Pharrell, Bow Wow, Chingy, Li'l Wayne, and T.I, plus appearances by Carmelo Anthony and actor/comedian Cedric the Entertainer.
Caesars Palace: Danity Kane performs in the Tangerine. At Pure, Nicky Hilton introduces her new fashion line, and engaged couple Tony Parker and Eva Longoria co-host a Saturday night event.
Empire Ballroom: This casino-less club across from the Monte Carlo offers parties hosted by LeBron James, actor/singer Jamie Foxx, and TNT commentator Kenny Smith.
Hard Rock: There's a performance by The Roots, and actor Nick Cannon hosts an old school hip-hop showcase. Charles Barkley hosts the official after-game party, while at Body English, Paris Hilton has her birthday celebration. Many diseases will be spread.
Ice Las Vegas: Allen Iverson and LeBron James headline the standalone club, and invite NFL players Terrell Owens and Michael Vick. Bring your own Sharpie.
Mandalay Bay: Dwyane Wade hosts a party at Rumjungle; also look for Twista, Ludacris, Shaquille O'Neal, and NFL stud LaDainian Tomlinson. At the House of Blues, there's music from Common and Ne-Yo, and comedy from Sarah Silverman and Charlie Murphy.
MGM Grand: The Black Eyed Peas perform at Tabu. Magic Johnson and actor LL Cool J host events at Studio 54.
Mirage: Follow party hosts Tracy McGrady and Lamar Odom at Jet, with Grandmaster Flash and Diddy. At Revolution Lounge, there's no basketball crossover when Mario "A.C. Slater" Lopez and Good Charlotte's Joel Madden host a Saturday event.
Orleans: The Black Eyed Peas (again) and comedian D.L. Hughley perform at the off-Strip casino, which usually attracts a Donny Osmond and Vicki Lawrence kind of crowd.
Palms: The "official host hotel" boasts Shaquille O'Neal and musical artists Akon, Diddy, and T.I.
Rio: Last night offered a kickoff party in VooDoo Lounge by a local All-Star, UNLV's own Shawn Marion. Prince performs in his Club 3121 all three nights this weekend.
Strip clubs aren't left out of the action. Dennis Rodman classes up Scores, I guess, while Sapphire has actor Tyrese Gibson. Finally, Seamless advertises "No celebrities. No players. Just hot chicks!" Well, the ones not trying to score an NBA player.
Despite the aforementioned flurry, I'll be avoiding the Strip. I'm not a big NBA follower -- the college game is more interesting and watchable -- and it doesn't help that the big sports story this week is the anti-gay tirade by Tim Hardaway, the last NBA player for whom I considered myself a big fan. Maybe he's still got "skillz," but I don't care for his homophobia, and I really don't care for his instant and meaningless apology.
Makes you wonder about the former Golden State Warriors player, though. What did the Bay Area ever do to Tim Hardaway?
55 Fiction Friday prefaces Monday's post with this:
Gerald Ford knew his chances were slim. Rookies rarely got selected, especially turnover prone players who lacked great individual stats.
Starters were more popular; reserves had more experience.
So he was stunned to be named a replacement by league commissioner John Marshall after Eisenhower went down.
Apparently, you can still tear knee ligaments in heaven.