LAS VEGAS - One of the disadvantages of having lived here is that whenever I come back here for work or pleasure, I stay with close friends or relatives instead of booking a room on The Strip. Thus, I miss out on the Vegas "experience," which to be honest, never really appealed. Still, once in a while ...
While having lunch with Joe and Gavin Maloof earlier today at the poolside restaurant in the Palms Place condominium tower, Paul Stanley of KISS suddenly appeared on the deck. He was in the midst of receiving a tour of the property from the always industrious George Maloof - who might have been the only male in town wearing a long-sleeved shirt. (The temp was only about, oh, 105 degrees or so). Stanley, who recently purchased one of the condos, eventually walked over and introduced himself. He made small talk with Joe and Gavin for a few minutes, and he was very, very nice - and very normal looking. Imagine that!
After spending about two hours listening to Joe and Gavin engage in their usual hyperbole about Kevin Martin, Spencer Hawes, rookie Jason Thompson, etc. - and they still insist Quincy Douby is going to be a star - I took a short stroll around the premises. In all honesty, I wondered why I had stayed away so long. (Most of my journalism colleagues who come here to cover a variety of assignments stay at the Palms). The place is three times the size of what I remembered. The last time I was here, I don't even think the second tower was under construction. Interestingly, the Palms was pretty busy compared with what I encountered at the Wynn last night. I hooked up for dinner with some USA Basketball officials at Steve Wynn's place, and I was struck by how empty the casino floor and the restaurants appeared. By contrast, one of our dining partners had just left the Palms, and said the casino was hopping.
Wonder what their secret is ...
Eager for a vacation
Martin, who has one more practice with the Select Team that has been training with the U.S. Olympic team here at Valley High, says he's ready for a vacation. The plan is to return to Sacramento for a few days, conduct a clinic in his hometown of Zanesville, Ohio, then head to Tahiti. "Then it will be six weeks of working hard and getting ready for the season," the Kings guard said after Wednesday's session.
Helping his cause
It remains to be seen, of course, whether Martin will ever get serious consideration for a roster spot on an Olympic team, but he continues to receive encouraging reviews from those inside the gym. (Practices are closed to media). Don Casey, one of P.J. Carlesimo's assistants on the Select Team, said Martin has improved with each practice. "Where did he go to school?" asked Casey, a former head coach with the New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and at Temple University. "He really shot the ball well, and he has been able to get his shot off more effectively as we go along. I like him a lot. Plus, he listens. He wants to learn, and that's always a good sign."