A Michael Jackson tribute and LeBron James performance at Jay-Z’s Vegas show

Jay-Z in concert at The Pearl in the Palms.
Photo: Erik Kabik/Retna/www.erikkabikphoto.com

They say music unites us all and Jay-Z did just that last night, as a handful of NFL rivals put aside their professional differences and took in the rapper’s performance from the same VIP box at the Palms.

The scene saw (Arizona) Cardinals chirping alongside (Philadelphia) Eagles; (Houston) Texans mixing with (Kansas City) Chiefs; and (Miami) Dolphins frolicking with (Chicago) Bears – and there was no blood or tackles; just bobbing heads, waving hands and a lot of drinks.

A (Playboy) bunny or two also hopped through the suite during the concert, which only further enhanced the festive mood.

Chicago Bears linebacker and four-time Pro Bowler Lance Briggs, Houston Texans running back Steve Slaton and New York Giants tight end Travis Beckum were three of the on-field rivals but off-field friends in the box last night.

There were two first-round 2009 NFL draft picks, new Miami Dolphin Vontae Davis and the third player drafted this year, incoming Kansas City Chief Tyson Jackson. Philadelphia Eagles’ second-round pick LeSean McCoy also joined the group.

Fourth of July 2009: Jay-Z & Ciara

Elsewhere at the Pearl last night, Barbados-born performer Rihanna danced throughout the show in a different VIP box. Unsurprisingly, her embattled former boyfriend, Chris Brown, was nowhere to be seen.

Brown was sentenced last week to five years probation and six months community service after he pleaded guilty to assaulting his former flame during a highly publicized argument on Feb. 9.

Also absent last night was Jay-Z’s equally famous and curvaceous wife, Beyoncé Knowles. Yet, Sasha Fierce fans won’t have to wait long to see the bootilicious songstress here in town: She has a quartet of concerts scheduled at the Encore in just a few weeks, starting on Thursday, July 30.

Meanwhile, other famous faces at last night’s show included LeBron James and rapper MVP.

Instead of merely watching from their seat or skybox, however, the two watched the show from the side of the stage, then joined Jay-Z onstage for the encore.

LeBron James at Tao Beach.

The trio treated the crowd to another handful of hip-hop, including “Something Like A Phenomenon,” “99 problems,” “I'm a hustler baby” and “Hard knock life.”

Before that, Fabulous and Ciara opened for Grammy Award-winning rapper and his massive backing band, which included two drum kits, two keyboards, at least one guitar and a three-piece brass section involving a saxophone, trumpet and trombone.

As the footballers and the rest of the crowd looked on, Jay-Z worked through his retrospective of hit singles and collaborations, including "Can I Get A..." (Jay-Z/Ja Rule/Amil) and "Swagga Like Us," (Jay-Z and T.I. featuring Kanye West, Lil Wayne and M.I.A.), among many others.

Jay-Z performs a tribute to Michael Jackson at the Pearl on Friday, July 3.

Midway through his set, the former Def Jam CEO stopped to play tribute to Michael Jackson with a video-enhanced rendition of "I Want You Back.”

Afterward, Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, encouraged fans to live their lives to the fullest.

“You gotta maximize it,” he said.

Living life to the fullest, indeed, Briggs, Slaton, Beckum and the rest continued their quest for maximum Independence Day weekend fun after the show at Moon.

Many of the footballers partied at Tao the night before, and were spotted living it up earlier yesterday afternoon at Ditch Fridays at the Palms pool.

The group hung out in one of the club’s large booths overlooking the dance floor while they enjoyed Ketel One cocktails and shots of Patron.

Rather than delay the post-show party by going to a restaurant for dinner, the group ordered and satisfied their late night munchies with some all-American fast food without leaving the comfort of the club.

Meanwhile, Ciara hosted an official afterparty of her own over at Jet, and James hosted his a blow-out at Lavo.

The fun-loving NBA star had already caught some fun in the sun Friday afternoon at Tao Beach and was spotted inside Tao on Thursday night as he partied at the Venetian hot spot.

Jay-Z joined James’ party at the Palazzo last night, along with a 30-person entourage that included his manager, John Meneilly, and protégé songbird Rihanna.

The group enjoyed a late night dinner in the main floor dining room before moving the party upstairs to the nightclub. Once upstairs, the already-large group expanded even more to include over 50 people, requiring the entire VIP section.

Fabulous, Amar'e Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns, and Melody from the Pussycat Dolls also joined them, while Palms owner George Maloof and film producer Lawrence Bender took in the scene from a separate table at the club’s marble bar after their much smaller group had dinner downstairs.


Melissa Arseniuk

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