Posted: Friday February 16, 2007 10:20AM; Updated: Friday February 16, 2007 11:10AM
With the NBA All-Star Game hitting Las Vegas this weekend, it's only a matter of time before an NBA franchise relocates to Sin City for good. This, of course, comes after commissioner David Stern and his fellow sporting chiefs have spent years decrying the evils of gambling. But hey, if that's the way they want to play it, the 10 Spot is happy to jump aboard. Here's an early line on potential bets for that inaugural season of the Las Vegas Grizzlies, Hornets or SuperStrippers:
1. Odds that the relocating team will improve its home record by 10+ wins: 3-1 -- There have long been whispers that some NBA teams already encourage staff at the visiting team hotels to push the players toward strip clubs, the better to have them nice and groggy for the next day's game. (Hello, Isiah Thomas.) The Vegas squad won't even need to resort to such chicanery. Visitors will have the dates of the Vegas road trip circled on their calendar so far in advance that playing the game will be the last thing on their mind. Strippers and gambling and nightclubs, oh my!
2. Odds of spotting an NBA player waiting in the cab line at the Las Vegas airport: 20-1 -- Certainly, no self-respecting baller with a guaranteed contract would be caught dead on the infamous snaking queue, which is believed to be the longest in the world that doesn't end with a roller coaster. Still, the chance that some rube D-League call-up might skip the limo to save a few bucks, or out of sheer ignorance of the way things are done in the big time, makes this an intriguing longshot play.
3. Odds of a Las Vegas police report involving an NBA player and a strip club: 1-10 -- Frankly, if today's players spent as much time working on their jump shot as they do jamming scrilla into G-strings, our so-called Dream Teams might actually win international tournaments. (As an aside, strippers can't be happy with the new push toward dollar coins; very uncomfortable.) It won't be long before some silicone-addled cager draws his gun (dump! dump!), or gets in a brawl, or has an ungodly amount of jewelry swiped at a gentlemen's club.
4. Odds that the Vegas franchise will have more players arrested than the Bengals: 4-1 -- An intriguing teaser. NFL rosters are more than three times the size of those in the NBA, of course, which accounts for the decent payout. But the Bengals can't keep getting nine guys arrested every season, right? Aren't they due for a slump?
5. Odds of an NBA player being caught cannoodling with Paris Hilton: Pick 'em -- Indeed, this is a strange gap in Hilton's "resumé," considering her rumored exploits with athletes in general (Brian Urlacher, Matt Leinart, Mark Philippoussis, Jose Theodore, etc.). Surely that will be rectified in Vegas, a virtual suburb of Hilton's native L.A. with an even higher ratio of paparazzi-to-patrons.
6. Odds of an NBA player being caught at a Wayne Newton show: 30-1 -- Mr. Las Vegas may be (rather incongruously) performing at Sunday's All-Star Game, but the audience at his packed shows is far more Griswold than Garnett.
7. Odds that a player from the Vegas team will make a cameo on Las Vegas or CSI: 2-1 -- The real gamble here is a) whether the shows will still be on the air by the time the Sin City squad is up and running (though CSI seems like a safe bet) and b) the fact that neither NBC nor CBS air NBA games. But don't you want to know if Pau Gasol can act, other than when he says he will "defend the Grizzlies shirt until the last of my days"?
8. Odds that a visiting player will check out the Hoover Dam: 25-1 -- The popular tourist attraction is just 30 miles from Las Vegas, but don't expect any pro athletes to show up unless they start stationing go-go dancers on the Nevada-Arizona border that crosses atop the dam. Come on, they've got a game to play.
9. Odds that a player is served with a Vegas-centered paternity suit: 4-1 -- Be careful, this is a sucker play. The only reason the line isn't something like 1-5 is that these proposition bets are only for the first year of the new Vegas team. We're not doctors, but it takes a certain amount of time for such suits to, well, bear fruit.
10. Odds that a player declares bankruptcy from gambling losses: 8-1 -- Let's face it, NBAers aren't always the savviest bettors (we're looking at you, Charles Barkley). Mix together young, hyper-competitive men with tons of disposable income and year-round residence right off the Strip, and you've got the recipe for fiscal disaster. It probably won't happen the first year, but eventually at least one player's paychecks will be directly signed over to the MGM Grand. Bet on it.