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Vegas Weekend in Rewind

Nate Robinson gets no respect.

  • As detailed by the intrepid Matt Watson over at FanHouse, the most confusing moment of the weekend came Sunday afternoon when the Vegas organizers mocked honored summer league veteran Nate Robinson with a straight-faced jersey retirement ceremony.  Robinson only played two games this time around, but he won the Vegas MVP award in 2007 and has now made the trip to Sin City four times.  Which apparently makes him the Reggie Jackson of July or something.

    So now that his #4 jersey is hanging from the cinderblock wall of the Cox Pavilion, Nate's been forever immortalized, right?  Um, not exactly.  A couple hours after the jersey was unveiled with much pomp and circumstance, a maintenance guy showed up with a ladder and took it down. As Matt so adeptly narrates in the video above, "It took four years to put it up there...20 seconds to take it down." Sorry, Nate. 
  • With 21 NBA teams involved, there was no shortage of familiar faces roaming the Thomas & Mack Center.  Aside from the lottery picks on the court, Chris Paul, Carmelo, LeBron, and Brad Miller were among those making appearances in the stands, while coaches, GMs, and other front office-types milled around for scouting, small talk, and interviews. 
  • Having done a more typical Vegas trip in February, I ended up having a very basketball-centric weekend hanging out mostly with the FanHouse Matts: Mr. Watson of Detroit Bad Boys fame and Mr. Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm/Ridiculous Upside fame.  Fellow SBNers Dave and Ben from Blazer's Edge and Stan from Bright Side of the Sun also made the trip.  It seemed like the media ranks had largely thinned out by the league's final weekend, though J.A. Adande, David Aldridge, and Chris Mannix were among the notables hanging around until the bitter end.  
  • The most interesting game of the weekend had to be the Blazers/Suns game Saturday night, where Vegas MVP Jerryd Bayless erupted for 36 points including the eventual game-winner.  Bayless seemed to be playing angry all weekend (Vengeance for his draft night tumble?  Some bad Chinese?), which apparently worked for him. 

    But even more impressive than Bayless was the Blazer fan presence.  For whatever reason a huge contingent of rowdy Blazer fans made it to the Saturday/Sunday games, which added another dimension to the normally bland atmosphere at the Cox Pavilion.  Things got especially loud everytime Arkansas rookie big man Steven Hill touched the ball.  However, I'm sad to report that Hill didn't look quite as scrubby as he did in college, nor was he rocking his famous white socks, opting instead for a more discreet ankle-high black pair.
  • You might remember Henry Abbott's story last year about the inexplicable love that NBA players have for the Cheesecake Factory, so I'd be remiss not to link to Matt Moore's Vegas follow-up.  That picture came from my camera, folks.  I'm quite proud.
  • While Vegas always has its share of guys who don't belong anywhere near an NBA court, it also struck me how many reasonably talented players don't ever make an NBA roster. While most of these guys are light years behind the NBA's best in terms of overall skillset, the line between the 13th-15th men on an NBA roster and the guys who are perpetually dominating the D-League is decidedly blurry.  Watching Pops Mensah-Bonsu run, dunk, and generally dominate all aspects of Vegas life, I have a hard time believing he's not good enough to be on the end of an NBA bench.
  • Speaking of guys fighting for respect, the dunk of the weekend for me was from Minny point guard Blake Ahearn.  The 6'2" Ahearn looks more like your company's IT guy than an NBA player, but that didn't stop him from driving through the lane and throwing down a somewhat vicious one-hander out of a halfcourt set on Sunday.  Too bad the gym didn't have a replay board, because we were all having a hard time grasping what had just happened.