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If you run a hotel in this country, there are a few groups that make you go gulp when they check in. The American Litigants Union. The National Kleptomaniacs Society. 60 Minutes.
But those are the American Poets Society compared to the NBA's All-Star weekend crew.
This year it descended upon the Westin in Denver. You talk about pressure. If a sinkhole had opened under the Westin last weekend, every great basketball player--and most of the league's owners--would've sunk with it.
Of the 430 rooms in the hotel, 420 were allotted to the NBA. If a jock, rapper or movie star was anybody, he wanted to crib at the epicenter of the madness, the Taj B-Ball, the fountain from which all cool springs.
No wonder 10 of those rooms went to NBA security. "My God, security is tight," grumbled Mike, a bartender at The Palm, the in-house restaurant, as he poured another $120 shot of Remy Martin Louis XIII. "It wasn't half this tight when Dick Cheney stayed here. I got stopped trying to leave!"
The Westin was ready for anything. The restaurant loaded up on 10-pound lobsters, and the hotel created 26 identical suites so that no All-Star would have a better room than any other. The hotel's general manager, Dani Stern, rolled a bed into his office. "I won't be going home," he said.
Of course, anything happened anyway.
Shaq to cop in lobby: "Any idea where I can go shoot?"
Cop: "Well, I'm sure they could take you to the Pepsi Center."