Upon entering the World Famous Riviera hotel/casino, I saw the poster promoting a mock stage performance entitled, “Barbra & Frank, The Concert That Never Was,” featuring Sinatra and Streisand impressionists, respectively.
Five hours and two NBA playoff games later, as I made my way out of the venue, I couldn’t help but consider who performed with silky smooth grace and excellence likened to the immortal Sinatra. While in contrast, with all due respect to Ms. Streisand, which NBA’er played, well, like a girl on Friday night.
Performed like “The Chairman”
Example 1: Paul Pierce, Boston
Love him or hate him, Paul Pierce is one heck of a basketball player-and an even better performer on the Big Stage. He will never be mentioned amongst the firmament of NBA elites such as Kobe, Wade, LeBron, Melo, Howard and Durant, but he has one important thing in common with the aforementioned six-pack; the former Jayhawk can make any shot, at any time. Sure he’s made more acrobatic field goals throughout his career, but last night’s off the dribble, fall away shot from the right elbow as the clock expired is just as transfixing as the rest.
Furthermore, the Pierce buzzerbeater could prove to be the shot that grants us access to another playoff semifinal showdown of Boston versus LeBron and Cleveland. The last time these two Eastern Conference juggernauts met in the second round, the Celtics prevailed in seven games en route to winning the 2008 league title.
I already had a bet placed on the C’s to win the series, and on Friday I took Boston to win game three, which in theory, proved to be a successful, time-honored, Vegas double-down.
Example 2: Paul Milsap, Utah
Wait! Google him later.
The rest of the Jazz were shooting the ball in the first quarter (17%) like they had some sort of hangover resulting from partaking in Jerry Sloan’s latest mandatory motivational technique, SeeSaw Bullfighting, on their day off. Milsap, however, came off the bench to make his first nine baskets, finishing with a playoff career-high 22 points, to go along with 19 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals.
Who Played Like a “Barbra” on Friday:
Example 1: Kendrick Perkins, Celtics
The blocky, boggy Celtic pivot Perkins performed inanimately, on the offensive side of the court anyways, or as if he had Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens, to name a few of his favorite things, on his mind. But it sure didn’t appear to be basketball.
In 31 minutes, Perkins made as many baskets, free throws including, as Stephen Hawking has netted in his entire life. Perkins managed to commit five turnovers-the ball itself headed into his direction only 10 times. Maybe his dog bit him before the game or a bee stung him, we’ll never know. Thank goodness the Celtics “Big 4” of Pierce, Garnett, Allen and Rondo were able to generate rhythm and overcome their center’s outward display of offensive terminal psychosis.
Example 2: Denver Nuggets, Team
I called 17 different sports books throughout Vegas Saturday, curiously to know if any fishheads were still gaga enough to bet on the Denver Nuggets to win the NBA title after last night’s Clipper-like performance against the Utah Jazz. There were actually two beatniks who still believe. One in particular, came by way of Binion’s Horseshoe down on Fremont St. (Old Vegas), who happened to be wearing a “Who Farted?” baseball cap. The crux is, the ticket writer couldn’t actually distinguish whether or not it was a man or woman.
“So we’ll just say an ‘It,’ then?” I joked.
“Yeah, well the thing is, I carded the…person, too. And even the state issued ID left the Male/Female option blank. Can you believe that? Someone at the DMV was actually afraid to ask about the gender? I’ve never seen anything like it. It was one of those moments that will have me forever thinking twice before callously speaking of Reno…or hell even Barstow ever again.”
“How much did ‘It’ bet?”
“Did you at least give ‘It’ a complementary drink card?”
“Oh yeah, and I even threw in a voucher for a free hat or t-shirt at the gift shop. Which ‘It’ appeared a little put off about.”
In a game three embarrassing loss (105-93) to the hands of the Utah Jazz, the Nuggets totaled more third quarter turnovers than field goals made. True story.
And Where there’s a Will There’s a Way…
Hedge (definition): Betting the opposite team or side of your original wager in order to either try and “middle” the game or to reduce the size of the original wager.
I took the Jazz -2.5 last night based on a simple formula: they are coming off a win + they are playing at home where they ALWAYS play like they are energized with some sort of covert Great Salt Lake infused Electric Kool-Aid + they had a day off for which they didn’t have to experience time zone acclimation or Jet Lag (536 miles from Denver).
It turned out to work as a win-win for me. At the beginning of the playoffs, as you may recall, I bet on Denver to win the series. Well that parlay of sorts would have only paid somewhere around $3, along with the $5 I wagered. In case the ibogaine swigging patron with the “Who Farted?” hat proved to be correct, for this series anyways, I’ll end up winning eight dollars. And with the Jazz winning last night, at the very least I drew even once the series is complete.
Now leading the series 2-1, with homecourt advantage, the shorthanded Jazz have developed a seven-man brigade in taking control of the series. Big surprise coming from a Jerry Sloan coached team, eh?
Rating “Crazy Leroy’s Sports Book” located in the Riviera
1. Unassuming, diverse, and somewhat impressive array of décor/sports memorabilia.
2. Draft Beer –Why not have better tasting beer when you can have better tasting beer? $3 for a 16. Oz Bud Heavy.
3. Sports Bar/lounge – Located just behind the main spectator quarters, the bar itself can be seen as a double-edged sword; as no cocktail waitress will prompt you for a drink every 15 minutes, but if the bar itself attracts a crowd, the volume of the game itself will be completely drowned out.
4. I don’t think more than 15 people in Vegas actually knows this sports book exists. At one point I almost felt like I had the place to myself.
5. Large, comfortable seats fit for a King.
1.Presumably no MLB package-don’t hold me to it, though. The only baseball displayed was the “Live Look-In” limited MLB channel.
2. No cocktail waitresses patrolling area-a con for those who are used to the convenience of not having to get out of your seat and walk 10 feet for a spirit or beer.
3. Though they are all in HD, there is no plasma television over 42”. Wow, it just occurred to me how White I am.
(To maximize viewing pleasure, sit in the front row, as far to the left as possible. At one point last night, I was viewing an NBA game, the NFL Draft on both ESPN and the NFL Network, respectively, a Stanley Cup Playoff game, and Greyhound racing from Palm Beach-don’t underestimate the hypnotizing power of dog racing, you can get hooked. Notable canines included: Pants on The Ground, LC’s JiggyWithIt, and Bohemian Jim-Jam.)