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All-Stars stir the Vegas scene

first_imgMaloof has had a big hand in it. He said he and his brother, Joe, were talking about the idea of a neutral site All-Star game and pitched the thought of it being in their city to commissioner David Stern, who told them to bring it to Mayor Oscar Goodman on one condition: No betting on the game in the sports books. Being an exhibition that doesn’t get heavy action anyway, that was no problem. “If you bet the NBA All-Star game, you might as well get a life,” Gavin Maloof said. Besides, after all those parties – Maloof said his casino will host about a dozen, featuring everyone from Shaquille O’Neal to Dwyane Wade to Diddy – who can predict which players will have energy left to play well Sunday night? “There ain’t going to be no sleep, I’ll tell you that,” Wade said. “There’s going to be a lot going on.” The timing of this experiment couldn’t be better. After an occasionally rocky first half that featured headaches from the ball to the brawl, the NBA could use a few days away to blow off some steam. Photos NBA All Star LAS VEGAS – Even a city that spares no expense for a good time has never seen anything like this. The NBA All-Star game on Sunday may be meaningless and after three nights of parties, might be sloppy. But try telling that to people paying top dollar for a chance to see it. Is there a better place for that than Sin City? “I got married in Vegas a couple of summers ago and it was pretty crazy, so I can only imagine what it is going to be like with all the celebrities and an event this big,” said Washington’s Caron Butler, a first-time All-Star. Goodman called the combination of NBA stars and his city’s entertainers “a perfect honeymoon.” The players were to share the Sunday night stage with Las Vegas entertainment fixtures Wayne Newton, Danny Gans and performers from Cirque du Soleil, all scheduled to perform that night. Last year, Goodman said the festivities would rival “the heyday of a Tyson fight.” Given a year to reconsider, the mayor has amended his prediction. “As far as the expectations for this weekend, it outdoes any championship fight that I’ve experienced here,” he said. “And I’ve lived here since 1964 and I’ve seen the Alis and the Listons and the Foremans and the Fosters and the Tysons. “The buzz here is extraordinary. The parties that are being arranged at this point in time are extraordinary. It’s just going to be a weekend and a couple of days of nonstop excitement and electricity and neon and glitz and glamour, and it’s going to be everything that Las Vegas is all about.” The predictions for the weekend are staggering. Besides the prices for a ticket at the Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas officials estimate there will be 25,000 visitors who will generate more than $26 million in non-gaming economic impact, as the NBA shares the holiday weekend crowd with a fashion industry convention and the Chinese New Year. “There aren’t many cities where the All-Star weekend would be a relatively small event in terms of the number of people involved, but Las Vegas is such a city,” Stern said. “That said, I understand that in terms of the demand for tickets and the like, it’s been the biggest event in their history.” So how is anyone supposed to get any rest during this All-Star “break?” “Ah, you don’t,” LeBron James said. “Let’s see, Tuesday I can sleep all day in Toronto and be ready for Wednesday. I’m not going to get any sleep (in Vegas).” Green, Kapono win Boston’s Gerald Green capped All-Star Saturday with an acrobatic leap over a table to win the dunk contest, and Miami’s Jason Kapono fell just short of an event record while winning the 3-Point Shootout. Green, the Celtics’ 20-year-old swingman, performed his two most memorable dunks in the first round before that final leap over a table bearing the All-Star game logo for a windmill jam. He first made an electrifying two-handed slam on an alley-oop pass off the side of the backboard from teammate Paul Pierce in the first round. Green then jumped over fellow finalist Nate Robinson while wearing the No. 7 Celtics jersey of 1991 dunk champion Dee Brown – and shielding his eyes in the crook of his elbow in an homage to Brown’s memorable no-look dunk. Green easily won over the five-man judges’ panel of Michael Jordan, Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins, Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter – particularly when Robinson, the diminutive 2006 champion, missed nine straight times on his final dunk before finally landing a one-handed spin move. Green and Robinson eliminated Orlando’s Dwight Howard and Chicago’s Tyrus Thomas in the first round, even though the 6-foot-11 Howard came up with the most original move. Earlier, Artesia High graduate Kapono beat stars Gilbert Arenas and Dirk Nowitzki with a final-round 24 – just one shy of the event record. Kapono, the fourth-year pro who finally blossomed with the Heat this season, tied Mark Price’s final-round record and fell just one point shy of Craig Hodges’ overall mark with an impressive performance leading off the last round. “It’s something that I dreamed of as a kid,” Kapono said. “You watch Larry Bird and all those guys shoot, and obviously I learned early on that I wasn’t ever going to be in on the slam dunk part.” Kapono leads the NBA this season with 56 percent shooting on 3-pointers while averaging 11.1 points per game. He has finally found an NBA role as an outside shooting specialist after playing for three teams in his first three seasons. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img “This is the biggest event that ever hit Las Vegas,” said Gavin Maloof, whose family owns the Sacramento Kings and the Palms, where the players are staying. “No question about it, bigger than any fight. Let me tell you why. The tickets, they’re brokering the tickets 10 rows up, five rows up for $27,000 a ticket. “There’s never been an event that I know of in the history of the world that goes for $27,000. I don’t care if it’s World Cup, I don’t care if it’s the Stones, Super Bowl. There’s never been an event that a broker has charged that kind of an amount for any ticket, not that I know of. It’s just incredible.” last_img

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