Robin Leach's Vegas DeLuxe
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It was nearly impossible to tell if the Las Vegas fans who made the desert trek to the NBA All-Star Game over the weekend in L.A. were there for the competition, the players or the entertainers. Everybody from hotel execs to parents with kids to frantic fans begged, borrowed and bought tickets for the Staples Center showcase.
They were rewarded with extraordinary superstar entertainment and platinum plays by the sport’s biggest names, and contributing photographer Tom Donoghue was there at sideline center court for the game, and then shot the halftime entertainment from a mid-court suite.
Lenny Kravitz opened the game and was followed by Josh Groban singing the national anthem -- he remembered the words, as far as we know! At halftime, Rihanna stole the show. The lights were turned off as the video screens flickered to life showing tiny, then larger water droplets. It was the signal for enthusiastic crowds to scream even louder as Rihanna emerged from a wall singing “Umbrella.”
As if Rihanna wasn’t enough, other big names joined her. Drake, who will be opening Chateau nightclub at the Paris on March 5, partnered with her on “What’s My Name” and managed to weave “Happy Birthday” into the lyrics for Rihanna’s 23rd birthday. Just when that couldn’t get any hotter, a red-clad Kanye West, dripping in gold bling, surprised the crowd with “All of the Lights” from his latest album and his first public performance this year.
Among those dancing and singing along in the crowd were P. Diddy, Reggie Bush, Ciara and NBA legend Bill Walton. Jay-Z and Beyonce had front-row seats. Justin Bieber didn’t have to sing, but fans went wildest of all over him when he played in the celebrity basketball game of this year’s NBA All-Star jam session. Not only did he score eight points, but he also grabbed four rebounds and had two assists. Justin won MVP honors, and he told the commentators that he felt better with that award than the Grammy he didn’t win a week earlier!
Our pal Jason Alexander was with former Las Vegas resident Jimmy Kimmel and coaches Bill Walton and Magic Johnson to mastermind the star moves. Hall of Famer and Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen was a fan favorite, too, making a rare return appearance on the court with Justin, Michael Rappaport, Lil Romeo, A.C. Green, B.J. Armstrong, Chris Mullin, Jalen Rose, Ty Burrell, Jason Sudeikis, Zachary Levi, Common and regular Las Vegas nightclub denizen Rob Kardashian, but we didn’t spot sisters Kim, Kourtney or Khloe anywhere in the enthusiastic crowd.
The all-star weekend is now in the books, but thanks to Tom’s incredible photos, the memories will last a lifetime.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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