Ahh, do you smell that? Yup, that’s the sweet smell of new sneakers and fresh maple. Breathe it in and breathe it deep, ladies and gentlemen, because the NBA Summer League is back in Las Vegas. For 11 days Las Vegas becomes the epicenter of the basketball world, as the hopes and prayers of franchises and grown adults (us included) drastically rise and fall based on every success and failure of recent draft picks.
Since you’re solely focused on hoops (and since we’re Vegas experts), we’re going to hook you up with the ultimate NBA Summer League Las Vegas rundown. These are the places where you’re going to want to stay and eat, the things you’re going to want to do and the places you’re going to want to party. With your itinerary all taken care of, you can get back to more important things like working on your post-up game or protecting your new J’s from getting scuffed. And if you still haven’t swooped up your tickets yet, there’s no need to say thank you, because you can get those right here.
What you’ll need to know:
Before you go plundering through the desert for 11 days all willy-nilly, there are some things about NBA Summer League Las Vegas you need to know. First off, this is the crème de la crème of summer leagues (not that we’re biased or anything). This isn’t some pick-up session where dudes are just trying to get some run in. This is the official summer league of the NBA. We’re talkin’ 24 of the NBA’s 30 teams at your fingertips. Basically, the chances of getting all up in the personal space of your favorite players is about as likely as you getting tossed in the slammer for doing something dumb. A total of 67 games will be played from July 7th through the 17th, so there’s plenty of hoops action to satisfy even the most glutinous of hardwood fanatics. Every team will compete in three games before getting seeded in a tournament to decide who the champs will be (the ‘chip is going down on July 17th, FYI). Ultimately, each squad (depending on wins and losses) will get the chance to play at least five games. So there’s plenty of opportunity to watch your favorite team/young player.
Where you’re going to stay:
Aside from choosing which games you’re going to attend, deciding where to stay will be the biggest decision you’ll have to make. While you can’t go wrong with any of the hotels in Las Vegas, there are definitely a few that offer the distinct advantage of being super close to the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion (you know, the places where the games are held). The Hard Rock Hotel, Tropicana Las Vegas and Tuscany Suites & Casino are all a ten minute car ride away, so you’re about as close to the action as those whistle wearing zebras. If you don’t mind being on the other end of the Strip, check out The Palazzo. It’s still close, but they put you right in the action of the Strip. And who knows, you might even bump into a player or two (we’ve actually ran into Brian “The White Mamba” Scalabrine, once. And it was as magical as it sounds).
Where you’re going to eat:
You can’t be running around all day on an empty stomach. That’s how you get cramps! After a long, hard day of watching other people be active, it’s time for you to sit back and treat yo’ self. Have you ever had a home-cooked, Latin American dish? Trust us, it’s totally how you want to unwind after rooting for your favorite squad all day. That being the case, you’re going to want to hit up Chica inside The Venetian. Not only is the food as fresh as the stuff your Tia used to make, it’s just as authentic –and maybe even more delicious. Personally, we’re in love with the arepas and Brazilian beef tenderloin, but you were a backup point guard your senior year, so who are we to tell you how to live your life? If you’re in the mood for some pub grub, head on down to Tom’s Urban at New York-New York. I hope you laced up your high-tops, because you’re going to be slam dunking chicken wings into a bowl of ranch all day long. For those who aren’t the carnivorous type (we’re looking at you, certain player from The Finals who will not be named), Tom’s just so happens to be sensitive to the needs of vegetarians and vegans, too. They have crispy Brussels sprouts on deck, as well as asadero hash browns, which is quite the mouthful, isn’t it? It’s like trying to say “Giannis Antetokounmpo” five times fast.
What you’re going to do:
Since stretching is for sissies, after mealtime you’re going to want to unwind by catching a show. Las Vegas shows are to us what Michael Jordan is to basketball. We’re the G.O.A.T. And since you’re here for a good time, you’re going to want to see Piff The Magic Dragon at Flamingo. Known for losing “America’s Got Talent,” Piff is part magic and part comedy show rolled into one, with a little Chihuahua sprinkled in (you’ll have to see the show to know what’s up). Since you’re into pounding the rock down low and insane pre-game dance routines, you’re going to want to check out Jabbawockeez at MGM Grand. Rising to fame on “America’s Best Dance Crew,” these guys are the real deal on the dance floor, which is no small feat, because It usually takes us a few drinks to get that much confidence. And you can’t come to Vegas without seeing Absinthe at Caesars Palace. Trust us on this, an offensive host plus wild, lingerie-clad acrobatics always equals a good time. On the other hand, if you and your significant other have enough kids in your party to field a starting five (heck, even one kid can feel like three sometimes), then hit up the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef or TopGolf Las Vegas. Both are family-friendly and will at least keep their faces out of that IPad… for a few hours anyways.
Where you’re going to party:
The best place to be in Vegas during the summertime (when you’re not courtside, obvi) is next to a pool. If you have kids, every hotel has an awesome pool to swim and splash around in and stuff, but if you’re kid-free (or can ditch them in the lobby), you’re going to want to check out The Aquatic Club at The Palazzo. This adults-only pool is equal parts party and relaxation. Wanna get active? Feel free to get down on the floating ping-pong table. Are you more feelin’ more leisurely? Then kicking up your shell-toes inside a country club-inspired cabana is where it’s at. If you like your warm-up music live, you’re definitely going to want to park your water wings at Drai’s Beachclub on top of The Cromwell. With an ever-changing lineup that features hip-hop all-stars like Kendrick Lamar, Chris Brown and Rae Sremmurd, they’re easily the best pool for live music in Vegas (and their rooftop views of the Strip ain’t half bad, either). And ladies, we haven’t forgotten about you, because the men of Magic Mike Live at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino are going to show you what it means to run a full-court press. Channing Tatum helped create the show, so you know it’s the real deal. And because the show doesn’t allow you to throw money at the fellas (they give you pink “you’re welcome” slips instead), you can go ahead and splurge on the Summer League gear you’ve been eyeing.
There you have it, your rundown of all things NBA Summer League Las Vegas. If you have any questions or anything, feel free to shake us down. We’ll be wearing Kobe jerseys to every game, so we should be as easy to find as a two dollar bill at a Las Vegas strip club.