2007: A Vegas Odyssey

By Sam Rubenstein

The story you are about to read will not surpass “Fear and Loathing” or even “Leaving Las Vegas.” It will not become a litertary classic of the 21st Century. But it will entertain you, make you laugh, cry, shake your head, wish you were there, be thankful you weren’t, and laugh some more. This is my attempt to piece together the entire weekend as one story, tied together by everyone’s posting. Thanks to everyone that contributed, Lang, Ben, Khalid, Shannon, Russ, Jake, Ben Collins, and Mutoni.

Early Friday morning, the SLAM crew of myself, Lang, Ben, and Khalid met up at Newark airport. Little did we know that our ace reporter Shannon Booher of Line Of The Night fame had already been to the Dwyane Wade converse party.

This episode was captured in his post “Welcome to Ross Vegas.” Rick Ross was hustling and pushing it to the limit, but Common stole the show with a legit freestyle referencing people in the room at the time.

Khalid wrote about what happened in Newark.

At the time, it seemed like a line 300 deep was a big deal. HAHAHAHAH! How we have grown since then. We learned the hard way that standing behind 300 people is as easy as a drive thru compared to what happened in Vegas.
Our plane sat on the runway for an hour, partially because some teenage girls’ volleyball team couldn’t find a place to put their balls. Some rather crude gentleman heading to Vegas, made an unfortunate joke about balls, and me and Khalid just looked at each other with the “here we go” understanding. Another girl on the volleyball team was in tears, presumably because she was afraid of flying. This flight was blissfully uneventful. I spent the whole time reading.

When we touched down in Vegas, the realness of waiting hit us. Between the baggage claim and the taxi line and getting to our hotel and securing credentials, we missed the media session at The Palms with the Saturday Night participants. I needed to speak to future three-point shooting champion Jason Kapono, and that did not happen. It didn’t really affect anyone else. We got there during the Western Conference All-Star media session, and stayed through the Eastern Conference one. Lang wrote all about that here.

During the Eastern Conference session, I climbed over some reporters to ask Dwyane Wade a question that none of the cameramen/reporters/random Chinese dudes had time for. He gave me what I needed and I ran away feeling the dirty looks drilling a hole in the back of my head. I spoke with Joe Maloof for a second and posted the Q & A for the sake of posting something.

We hit up the requisite sneaker companies hotel rooms on the agenda, and headed back to our hotel. On our cab ride back, Ben told us the Caron Butler monkey story, which can be read in Lang’s All-Star Friday post. We got back to the hotel, and with not much turnaround time, Lang and I headed out to the Rookie-Sophomore game.

My game notes from the Rookies and Sophomores can be read here. Nobody in the entire city was talking about that game. I’m not kidding. The notes were delayed because the internet connection in my room wasn’t feeling like doing it’s job. At some point that night, Jake posted some much appreciated random ASG thoughts from back East.

Lang and I got back from the game and readied ourselves for the casinos and Brand Jordan party. Lang wrote his Friday night play-by-play recounting.

I really liked the Jordan party. I took advantage of the open bar (the whole weekend was a never ending open bar) and did my share of stargazing, as Lang noted down the pertinent names for his write-up. Now, I don’t have the years of establishing connections and friends in the industry like some of my co-workers, but I did run into a nice young lady that I knew through work. She was working for Lockheed Martin, the company that builds the F22 Raptor stealth fighter, which inspired the look of the Jordan XX2. We talked in Atlanta a little bit. At the Jordan party, I was innocently talking to her, when I noticed that Lang, Ben, Khalid, and Arash “He’s here? Okay, now it’s a party” Markazi drifted away to give me the space to do “my thing.” Perhaps I shouldn’t have fanned the flames by drunkenly calling out to them “I AIN’T GOT NO RING ON THIS FINGER!” Again, open bar. I was all talk, and it was a JOKE. I have a girlfriend and the “What happens in Vegas” thing is simply not true. Lang and I ended up playing blackjack at 2:30 A.M., which was 5:30 to our internal clocks. Yes, I fell asleep a few times at the table and retreated to my room.

The next morning, Ben and Khalid went to the Eastern conference team practice where Shaq set it off with a break dancing contest. You can read about that here.

The rest of the day was dedicated to more meetings with sneaker and apparel companies, networking, drinking coffee, running into media members, observing random NBA players and celebs walking around, ecetera. I had lunch at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant. It was the only “meal” I would eat the entire time we were there. Everything else was finger food at parties or nibbling the safe items in the media room at games/events. We went to All-Star Saturday night, and Russ posted lengthy notes on it from back home.

And let it be know, that Saturday night was bananananananas. I wrote a little bit about it when I woke up on Sunday to get the day going.

That had to be the best overall night. We went to the GQ Steve Nash party at V-Bar in the Venetian hotel and witnessed KG dancing like a maniac and rapping along to classics for a few hours. There were about 20 Nash look-alikes in the bar, as opposed to everywhere else where there were thousands of generic NBA star/rapper wearing sunglasses indoors lookalikes. Maybe that’s because it was the GQ party. I struck up a coversation with a girl from People that gave me all the dirt on who was expected to be where. She said the name “Kim Kardashian” and you should have seen me snap to life as the greatest investigative journalist ever. Alas, there was no Kim. She might not have been at Paris Hilton’s party either. Our intrepid reporter Shannon Booher was at the Hard Rock for Paris’s birthday, and the possibility of running into the notorious K.I.M. (not the one that raps) and that party has been covered by so many different angles of PR in various gossip pages, it’s hard to know who to trust. Shannon had a drink spilled on him by Paris, and he gave us the real scoop. He broke the midgets story before Page Six.

Back to Nash… This is the party I was referencing when I started talking about the women in Vegas. I was referencing the best 10%, not the masses. Truthfully this was a weekend loaded with wannabe balers, wannabe rappers, wannabe groupies and gold diggers, even wannabe PR people. The conversations I overheard at the Nash party were kind of making me naueseous, so I retreated to our table and waited for our waitress, who a few of us were in love with. Not enough in love to go to the wedding chapel down the hall, but she was a very nice lady. We went back to our hotel, where Ben headed to the poker area while Lang and myself looked for a spot at the blackjack tables. There were none, and as Lang started receiving text messages about a Playboy party at the Palms, I pushed him to please let us go there. All of this is covered in Lang’s Saturday night write-up, arguably the most important post of the weekend. This is the part of the weekend that you will read about in other places where they refer to the lobby of our hotel as being “like South Central.” Read Lang’s story in that write-up about the guy with the bucket of orange juice. He was definitely trying to star in a bootleg porno.

At the Playboy club, which was actually called Moon and somehow Playboy was affiliated with it, I transformed into a version of myself from 1998, arguing with someone about Hip Hop. Once we got out to the roof deck, we stopped talking and just stood frozen in amazement. BALLLLLLIIIIINNNNGGGGG! That may be a word that has run its course, but there is no other way to describe that party. Went back inside, suffering from overstimulation. I was sitting in a booth where some guy had ordered literally 14 bottles. There were playmate types dancing on all surfaces, and one of them fell off the couch in front of me and banged her head on the table, breaking the couch arm in the process. I have no idea how long we were there and I feel like part of my memory has been deleted. We waited in line for a cab to leave for at least an hour. That was my favorite night. And I still have both of my kidneys.

A few hours later, Lang went to a breakfast with The Commish and wrote about it here.

He went from there to The Palms, where he met up with me and Ben, who were attending a special brunch thrown by Bill Duffy, part of it as a ceremony to announce Steve Nash’s signing with a watch company. Ben and I shared a table with my favorite girl of the weekend. She was not so much “hot” or “smoking” or whatever word you want to use to describe an attractive female. She was “stunningly beautiful.” Totally unobtainable on all levels. I think her mom was with her at the table, and when she asked me what I do, I gave her a copy of the latest SLAM. She treated it with condescesnion like I was a 6 year old showing his teacher his latest finger painting. I wish I were ridiculously, ridiculously good looking. Whatever, we got some breakfast, hung out by the pool, took a cab to the Wynn for a meeting that never happened.

And now for my favorite story of the entire trip…

Cab drivers in Vegas are seriously 5000 times more insane than the ones in New York. Over here they just drive recklessly. Over there, most of them are serial killers in their down time. We got in the cab leaving the Wynn, and I sat in the front. The following is a series of statements that came out of his mouth:

“What kind of watch is that? Invicta? Nice watch. I used to have about 250 watches in my basement. I lost them in Katrina.”

He proceeded to ask me all kinds of technical questions about watches. I had no idea what he was talking about, which was made worse by the fact that every one of his sentences ended with “Do you know what I mean?” I finally broke down and said “Not really. I don’t know what you mean.”

“Can I see your watch?”

I handed it to him and he started messing with it instead of, you know, using the steering wheel. We were in stop and go traffic at the time. Eventually he gave it back to me.

“That’s the kind of watch a terrorist wears.”

“I’ll buy it from you. That’s a cheap watch. $95.”

I did not sell. It was a gift from my girlfriend. I kept my arm to myself. Here are some more excerpts from our conversation.

“I’ll tell ya… if you ever wanted to kill a whole bunch of black people, this is the weekend. You know what I mean?”

“Do you know what I mean?”

“But these aren’t welfare black people, so I don’t know, Do you know what I mean?”

I was shook. We got back to our hotel and I almost jumped out of the window to get away from him faster. We had some rare downtime before the All-Star Game, and I took the greatest hour long nap of my life.

We met Shannon Booher in the lobby and thanked him for his masterful work at the parties, then we went to the NBA All-Star Game.

Khalid wrote his second post of the trip, detailing more of the travel problems.

And as a unit, SLAM pumped out billions of words about the game:

My live blog from the game, Russ, Mutoni, Ben Collins.

After the game, we did some postgame stuff, talking to various players, before heading back to our hotels. Khalid had the best night of all of us, going to a real party at the Jet nightclub at The Mirage. He also details what happened on Sunday’s trip home, which was so preposterous… I can’t believe it was real.

Lang wrote his weekend wrap a few hours ago.

As for Sunday night, Lang, Ben, and I hung out in the same hotel restaurant/bar as The Viper. We then were all ready to hit the tables for the rest of the trip, but I still wanted more VEGAS. Lang warned us that we were heading on a wild goose chase, but I begged them. Ben was down, and we began a long journey that took our growing posse to 3 or 4 different casinos and was a complete waste of a few hours, but was still fun. Some guy looking like an albino K-Fed tried to sell me every drug that you can think of, and I said “I’m good” which got Lang going on how I was acting like I was in a Dipset video. This was five minutes after he bought a coffee from Starbucks with a hundred dollar bill.

Lang and I ended up back at the blackjack tables where we played for a while, and finally the All-Star weekend had come to its conclusion. I cashed out my decent winnings, took a walk just to feel what it was like to be outdoors again, and somehow that turned into winning money at video poker in a casino I had never been to and eating a McDonalds breakfast at 5 A.M. at another mystery casino. I wanted to be worn-out tired so I would sleep on the plane. Mission accomplished.

Monday was the return, which Lang and Khalid have detailed. A personal lowlight was falling asleep on the plane in Vegas, waking up an hour and half later assuming we were in Phoenix, only to find out we hadn’t moved. As Khalid points out, the flight attendant was a terrible human being. She really set it on him. I feared for our lives.

The look on Lang’s face when the woman with the baby sat down next to him… so priceless.

We got back home late last night, and other than Ben taking my luggage by accident, we’re back to business. I’m not wearing any deodorant.

I hope you all enjoyed our extra thorough assault on the senses blogging from Vegas. I think it turned out well, and again I want to thank everyone that contributed.

VIVA!!! You can always find the All-Star posts here.