Jason Whitlock, Sports.aol.com, February 20, 2007
NBA All-Star Weekend in Vegas was an unmitigated failure, and any thoughts of taking the extravaganza to New Orleans in 2008 are total lunacy.
An event planned to showcase what is right about professional basketball has been turned into a 72-hour display of why commissioner David Stern can’t sleep at night and spends his days thinking of rules to mask what the NBA has come to represent.
Word of all the criminal activity that transpired during All-Star Weekend has been slowly leaking out on Las Vegas radio shows and TV newscasts and on Internet blogs the past 24 hours.
“It was filled with an element of violence,” Teresa Frey, general manager for Coco’s restaurant, told klastv.com. “They don’t want to pay their bills. They don’t want to respect us or each other.”
“I have been spit on. I have had food thrown at me,” she said. “I have lost two servers out of fear. I have locked my door out of the fear of violence.”
All weekend, people, especially cab drivers, gossiped about brawls and shootings. You didn’t know what to believe because the local newspaper was filled with stories about what a raging success All-Star Weekend was. The city is desperately trying to attract an NBA franchise, and, I guess, there was no reason to let a few bloody bodies get in the way of a cozy relationship with Stern.
But there were multiple brawls, at least two shootings, more than 350 arrests and a lot of terror in Vegas over the weekend.
And the police might want to talk to NFL player Pacman Jones about a nasty shooting spree at a Vegas strip club. Jones and the rapper Nelly were allegedly at Minxx Gentlemen’s Club Monday morning shortly before (or during) the shooting.
There were so many fights and so many gangbangers and one parking-lot shootout at the MGM Grand that people literally fled the hotel in fear for their safety. I talked with a woman who moved from the MGM to the Luxor because “I couldn’t take it. I’ll never come back to another All-Star Game.”
There are reports of a brawl between rappers and police at the Wynn Hotel.
Without a full-scale military occupation, New Orleans will not survive All-Star Weekend 2008.
After this weekend, I’m convinced he’s losing the battle. All-Star Weekend Vegas screamed that the NBA is aligned too closely with thugs. Stern is going to have to take drastic measures to break that perception/reality. All-Star Weekend can no longer remain the Woodstock for parolees, wannabe rap artists and baby’s mamas on tax-refund vacations.
This was not a byproduct of the game being held in Vegas. All-Star Weekend has been on this path for the past five or six years. Every year the event becomes more and more a destination for troublemakers.