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The expansive swimming pool out back of the Palms hotel and casino in Las Vegas is as curved and shallow as the young women who are layered around its edges on a warm Saturday in October. One by one they swivel their heads and sit up from their chaise longues as two Armani suits stride conspicuously across their concrete plot of post-apple Eden. Even in their most relaxed moments Joe and Gavin Maloof, otherwise known as the owners of the Sacramento Kings, tend to move as if they're five minutes late for a plane. They also tend to be oblivious to their surroundings, whether they're at a Sacramento city council meeting to negotiate funds for a new arena or by a pool of nearly naked women--against whom they stand out like incarnations of Jake and Ellwood.
"Let's get some quality over here," Gavin says, rubbing his hands together.
"We'll get us some bunnies," adds Joe, older by 11 months.
The brothers are searching not on their own behalf but--as befits longtime leaders in the service industry--for the benefit of an SI photographer hoping to pose two of America's most eligible billionaire bachelors among the local talent. "If the customer isn't happy, we aren't happy," insists Joe, who is interrupted by the pointing index finger of an old family friend from their hometown of Albuquerque. The friend directs everyone's attention to the neon-green, polka-dot bikini bottom squished provocatively against the balcony railing directly overhead. A hum of subdued approval escapes Joe's parted lips as he turns to stare at Gavin before looking away.
A woman sporting a black bikini and ankle tattoos, with breasts two times too large for her body, runs over as best she can in her stiletto heels. "Where's a Maloof? Where's a Maloof?" she wants to know. Without being asked twice (or even once), she leans into Gavin. "Don't cross your leg," she scolds as the camera snaps away. "You look like a fruit loop."
Another young lady dressed barely in white eagerly forms the Oreo filling between the black-clad Maloofs. The woman in the polka-dot bikini, who may be Brazilian, is invited down from her perch. More women appear until nine are gathered around the brothers. The one in black removes Gavin's suit jacket and drapes it over his shoulder. "He's pushin' in my boobs!" she shrieks while grinding her chest into Gavin's shoulder blade, before leaning aside to flash her top for the camera. All the while the Maloofs wear the same slightly stiff, high school prom smiles.
It's an enviable life these brothers lead. How many men would love to be rich, single and owners of not only a profitable NBA franchise but also the hottest casino in Vegas? Joe, 51, and Gavin, 50, are the president and vice chairman, respectively, of the Maloof Companies, a billion-dollar family business that grew from a general store in northern New Mexico into a beer distributorship and then expanded into hotels, banking and entertainment. The family matriarch, Colleen, is the chairwoman of the board, while the other principals are Joe and Gavin's siblings: Adrienne Maloof-Nassif, 45, the company's secretary and treasurer; George, 42, an executive vice president who runs the Palms; and Phil, 39, the other executive vice president, a former New Mexico state senator who oversees the company's latest ventures, Maloof Music and Maloof Productions.
"A reporter asked Gavin on the plane one day," says Joe, "'If you were going to die and come back as anybody, who would you come back as?' He said--"
"Me!" interrupts Gavin, and both guffaw as if they hadn't told the story a hundred times before.
It's no wonder Gavin wouldn't trade his life for anybody else's. Not 13 hours earlier he was seen celebrating the opening of the country's first Playboy Club in nearly 20 years--situated on the top floor of the Palms' newest 52-story structure, appropriately named the Fantasy Tower--with Julie McCullough, a luminescent former Playboy centerfold. He and McCullough had danced in the casino's nightclub Moon under a retractable roof that opened to reveal the Las Vegas Strip; now Miss February 1986 is coming over to give Gavin a hug and thank-you kiss on the cheek.