How Las Vegas became a hot spot for the NBA
Las Vegas does not have an NBA team (yet) but it has become the league's favorite city for some of its newest and biggest events.
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1. How Las Vegas became a hot spot for the NBA
Las Vegas does not have an NBA team (yet) but it has become the league's favorite city for some of its newest and biggest events, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Mark Medina.
Nearly 3 ½ hours before the NBA’s next generational talent took the court, fans already filled the arena. About an hour before Victor Wembanyama made his Summer League-debut, security officials roped off the entrance tunnel where countless reporters, scouts and executives previously stood.
The scene captured the frenetic and excited nature over a sell-out crowd of nearly 18,000 fans eager to witness the San Antonio Spurs showcasing their No. 1 draft pick. It also exemplified the insatiable appetite that both Las Vegas residents and visitors have for basketball.
“We had to cut off ticket sales. We couldn’t sell any more tickets because the fire marshal and building manager said there’s a danger,” Warren LeGarie, the executive director of Las Vegas Summer League, told The Sporting Tribune. “We also have a lot of credentials out that we can’t control. It becomes a ‘Don’t you know who I am fest rather than a basketball fest.’ Everybody wanted to be here for the ‘Wemby’ open.”
It seems as if everybody has wanted to be here for other major basketball events, too.
2. Good vibes were felt in 2023 WNBA All-Star Game
Team Stewart defeated Team Wilson, 143-127. but that was a footnote to WNBA All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Rey Moralde.
The 2023 WNBA All-Star game was what you would've expected. Lot of open lanes. Lot of open shots. 4-pointers being shot. But in the end, it was Team Stewart that defeated Team Wilson, 143-127.
But it wasn't really about the game itself; it felt like a celebration of the league. Fans flocked to Las Vegas to meet their favorite players, mingle with fellow fans, and watch them perform their craft.
There was WNBA Live, a fan event that was held for the second straight year. It was said to be "a way to experience the game of basketball through a celebration of basketball culture, featuring interactive events including meet-and-greets with the WNBA’s biggest stars, live panels, trivia, personalized WNBA merchandise, fan skills challenges, and viewing parties." This went on throughout all weekend and there was so much enthusiasm from the fans.
3. Taylor Ward on track for offensive comeback
After dealing with an offensive slump, Taylor Ward is back to "keeping it simple," and it’s paying off with productive at-bats and a .991 OPS over the last seven games, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Taylor Arrey.
A Taylor Ward comeback could be on the horizon for the Angels, and the timing couldn't be better.
The team is currently five games back from the No. 3 American League wild card spot, and with players like Mike Trout, Gio Urshela and Brandon Drury recovering from injuries, manager Phil Nevin said he’ll be looking to such players as Ward and Mickey Moniak to keep the lineup competitive as the team inches toward playoff contention.
“I think everybody needs to play at a high level for us to be successful right now. Everyone knows where we're at injury wise. I've said it many times. I still believe we can win games with what we have, but yes, it's going to take guys like Taylor and Mickey and Shohei playing at the level that they have been, and then the support cast around them doing things that they're capable of as well,” said Nevin.
When the 29-year-old outfielder started the season, he was coming off a breakout year. In 2022, he set a new career high with 139 hits, averaging .281 with a .833 OPS. Last year, he recorded 22 doubles, 2 triples, 65 RBIs and 23 home runs, making him one of three Angels to have 20+ home runs last season alongside Trout and Shohei Ohtani.
4. Maxime Crépeau’s journey to recovery
Maxime Crépeau describes his journey of mental recovery since sacrificing his leg to help LAFC lift their 2022 MLS Cup, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Chandrima Chatterjee.
Less than three weeks before the 2022 World Cup, LAFC’s starting goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau made a decision that would change the course of his life and precipitate the thrilling final moments of the 2022 MLS Cup Final.
Deep in extra time, while Philadelphia Union and LAFC were in a deadlock, Crépeau, in an effort to prevent the Union's Corey Burke from capitalizing on a weak back pass from Jesus Murillo, collided with the Philly forward. He not only received his first professional career red card, but the resulting leg fracture led to a journey in the art of recovery, a delicate balancing act between physical, emotional, and mental realms. Max’s progression through stages of grief mirrors those LAFC as a whole is currently experiencing across the 2023 season, a year that began with elated energy surrounding possibilities of multiple trophies but is now in retreat, as tired players seek a respite from the rigor of simultaneous tournaments.
“We put all the effort in to win the first trophy of the year. We lost it,” LAFC captain Carlos Vela reflected. “So, we have to forget about that. This break will be really good for us to really reset our minds, our bodies, and re-start to fight for a new title. I think this year we have different options. But we have to be mentally prepared.”
5. Touring The Sphere with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Las Vegas
The Sporting Tribune got a private tour of The Sphere in Las Vegas with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The iconic big man spent the past hour enjoying a private tour of The Sphere, an 18,000-seat venue in the Venetian Resort that will host concerts, films and ring sports events beginning in two months.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar marveled at both the 16K LED screen and an elaborate sound system that the venue will first unveil to the general public for a U2 concert on Sept.29.
“I’m sitting here wondering, ‘How will this sound with a jazz band?’” Abdul-Jabbar told The Sporting Tribune as he strolled through the concourse. “It would sound like you’re in the room.”
Abdul-Jabbar spent this past weekend here marveling at something else that also appears extraordinary.
6. Dodgers falter in extras, lose 2-1 to Mets in New York
Another pitcher’s duel saw the Dodgers end their 6-game winning streak in New York to the Mets, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Grant Mona.
It feels as if every game of this series has been a pitcher’s duel, and we got another one Sunday night. The theme of the past two games was the return to form by the top end of the Dodgers’ staff, but Sunday night it was the comeback of Max Scherzer and Bobby Miller for each respective team.
Coming in, Scherzer and Miller both had an ERA of over 4.00 and had not been looking like the dominance we saw from Scherzer in years past and earlier in the year for Miller. Both were working the zone Sunday, but “Mad Max” bested the young Miller going 7 innings and not giving up any runs, completely stifling the Dodgers offense. On the other hand, the young Dodger arm held the Mets’ offense to a single run over 4 ⅔ innings.
The offenses for both teams were dormant for a majority of the game, except for a Starling Marte groundout in the 5th, and a Mookie Betts single in the 8th to tie the game. Nobody on either team had a multi-hit game, and for a team in the Dodgers that had been scorching hot lately, Scherzer and the Mets did an excellent job of preventing rallies and getting out of jams.
7. Odds and Ends presented by Circa Sports
Here are some odds at Circa Sports if you’re thinking about placing a wager today:
8. Ticket Time presented by TickPick
Here are the “get in” prices for tickets if you’re thinking about going to a game today.
6:38 p.m. – Yankees at Angels – $15
9. On the Air presented by The D Las Vegas
Here are the game times and television channels for professional teams in the region today.
4:05 p.m. – Dodgers at Orioles – SportsNet LA
6:38 p.m. – Yankees at Angels – Bally Sports West
10. The Arash Markazi Show presented by The Sporting Tribune
The Sporting Tribune’s Arash Markazi is joined by Adrian Hernandez, Brandon Deutsch and Armani Buckets as they talk to the co-founder of SlamBall, Mason Gordon, about the league making a comeback.
Listen to The Arash Markazi Show presented by The Sporting Tribune on The Mightier 1090 ESPN Radio in Southern California, 98.5 The Bet in Las Vegas and the Hawaii Sports Radio Network 95.1 FM and 760 AM in Hawaii. You can also listen to the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Stitcher.
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That’s it for today. Talk to you tomorrow!