By Nima Zarrabi
Las Vegas—On Sunday evening, shortly after the NBA All-Star half-speed scrimmage, Mitchell & Ness joined the fray of hot parties in Vegas by throwing an Illmatic event at the Ghost Bar in the Palms hotel. M & N was celebrating the launch of Michael Jordan’s 1987 jersey, the one he rocked when won the dunk contest 20 years ago.
I arrived at 9:45, and the chaos was well underway. There were hundreds of people desperately trying to hustle their way into P. Diddy’s party, which was held in the same hotel, but at another nearby club—Rain. Security had roped off the entrances to both clubs which led me to the wrong line at first. After finally realizing this fact, I turned around and found reality star Brooke Hogan standing directly behind me, with more makeup on than Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode I. It was truly startling. She is definitely a beautiful woman, but she went a tad overboard with the war paint.
After I finished gasping, I scooted over to the line for the party at Ghost Bar. I was immediately shuttled upstairs by Art Bowser and Meredith Bonner of M & N. Many thanks to Art and Meredith for all the love.
Once I got upstairs, I quickly realized that I was at a truly exclusive event. The place wasn’t overcrowded and featured a classy atmosphere. The bar was open all night and Biz Markie was camped out behind the DJ booth spinning records. A huge plasma screen loomed behind him, replaying the full telecast of the ’87 dunk contest. The first dude I ran into at the party was AO from AND 1, whom I had met last summer at the AND 1 Mix tape premiere at Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The Mohawk he had rocked last summer is gone and AO told me he has a little beef with SLAM. “I got love for SLAM but I’m disappointed that I have never been featured solo,” he said. “Y’all be doing features on dudes from our open runs and shit—I don’t understand it. I’m not hating on those cats, I just feel like I’m one of the best Streetballers of all time and I got a story to tell.” I promised AO that I would share his feelings with the fellas at the DOME and then we moved on. AO has been living in Los Angeles trying to break into the entertainment game. He has been going to film, television and commercial auditions with the hopes of spreading his wings a bit. He isn’t sure if he’s going to be on the AND 1 tour this summer.
After I hollered at AO, I ran into the oddest cat at the party: Ian Ziering of Beverly Hills 90210 fame. For those of you who never peeped the program, Ziering had the best role on the popular series as the cocky and at times hilarious, Steve Sanders. Believe it or not, Ziering is a huge NBA fan who roots for the Nets being that he grew up in New Jersey. “I always loved basketball growing up, but I never got to play because I was busy taking singing lessons or acting,” he said. We went on to talk about his role in the awesome Tony Scott film Domino, which he coincidentally shot in Las Vegas. He also said to watch out for him on his next project, Dancing with the Stars.
As the party was beginning to grow, in walked in one of my childhood heroes, Darryl McDaniels of Run-D.M.C.. Eventually I walked over to him and introduced myself as a writer for Slam. He immediately gave me a hug and said he was a fan of the book. I proceeded to nerd-out and tell him that when I was in sixth-grade, I played my cassette of Raising Hell so many times that I broke the string on the tape. He laughed and said he appreciated the kind words and then I asked him if he was a Knicks fan, being that he grew up in Queens. DMC shook his head no and made a bitter face. “I’m actually a fan of the San Antonio Spurs,” he said. “You wanna know why? Tim Duncan. He is a phenomenal player and what’s even better is the fact that he’s so humble. It’s refreshing.” Well said. DMC then began working the room before heading up to the DJ booth where Biz and Ed Lover were clowning around. Without hesitation, Biz started playing DJ Kool’s spring break hit, Let Me Clear My Throat and I went into an MTV spring break flashback, thinking about that one honey that rocked the catwalk one year in an American flag bikini that will forever be seared in my brain. After Ed did his thing, DMC grabbed the mic and got the party started with some Run-DMC songs like Tricky. He got into some of his new music as well and clearly, he’s still got it. I walked away from the experience thinking that DMC was one of the nicest artists I have ever met.
I made a visit to the patio bar before midnight and heard arguably the best conversation of the night. Three dudes were huddled up staring at another guy’s exclusive Nike Dunks that he was rocking with a suit. One of the onlookers shook his head and said, “Man I need to step up my sneaker game, B. But I got loafers. I got mad loafer game.” His boy shot him a serious look and replied, “Man, ain’t nobody out here care about your damn loafer game! There ain’t no such thing as loafer game.” Classic.
By 1 a.m., the party began filling up with athletes and entertainers. Dikembe Mutombo rolled through in a suit and some curious shades for a few minutes before cutting out. Dahntay Jones of the Grizzles stopped by with his boys as did former college basketball player and current San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates. Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam “Pac-Man” Jones spent most of his time at the party standing solo with a strange backpack strapped to his back. Remy Ma of Terror Squad rolled through for a bit as did Seattle Seahawks Defensive Tackle Rocky Bernard. Oakland Raiders middle linebacker Kirk Morrison was there and celebrated his 25th birthday when the clock struck midnight. Another great thing about the party was that it was filled with people who work in the sports and fashion industry. I got a chance to meet Pete Small and Dustin Canalin, two of the three founders of the ultra-hot up and coming brand, UNDR-CRWN. They are two really cool cats who are doing big things. I also ran into Chris Palmer of ESPN the Magazine and Mandy Murphy, the former PR director for the AND 1 Mixtape tour who has since moved on to Reebok.
Many at the party were discussing two athletes in particular—Gerald Green of the Celtics and Shawne Merriman of the San Diego Chargers. Nobody seemed to want to talk about Green’s dunk contest victory. Instead, everyone seemed to marvel at the three diamond neck chains he rocked to the NBA player’s gala. “There was so much bling on that kid’s neck that I had to turn around,” one party reveler told me. “He must have had a few hundred grand on his neck.” The discussions regarding Merriman centered on his choice of wardrobe. Apparently, “Lights Out” had been seen on Saturday night in a tight black wife-beat looking like the biggest AlpaMale in town—usually a clear no-no in Vegas’ high-end clubs. When I asked Morrison about how his fellow linebacker Merriman was able to rock that stillo, I was enlightened. “Do you actually think some bouncer would want to go up to ‘Lights Out’ and tell him he needs to put a shirt on?” Indeed.
The party went strong until about 4:30 in the morning, with the alcohol and music flowing freely. When I finally made my way downstairs, I saw that the Fire Marshall had made an appearance at the Diddy party and the mob scene that was beginning when I arrived had died out. I walked out of Palms and into the daylight, with that damn DJ Kool song stuck in my head.