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Welcome to the hip-hop Woodstock
By Bill Simmons
Important note: This column is extremely long, even for a Simmons column. Do yourself a favor and print it out, then read it when you have 20 minutes to kill. And if you planned on reading it in the bathroom, please know that ESPN.com is not responsible for any hemorrhoids that happened because you sat on the bowl too long. On to the column ...
LAS VEGAS -- Remember those parties in college when a drunk guy inadvertently kicked over the host's bong and spilled bong water onto the rug, only he never cleaned up the resulting mess, so the skunky water festered while the host of the party was passed out? And then, the following morning, the host awakened to a room that smelled like a cross between a stale bong and the seventh circle of hell?
That's what downtown Las Vegas smelled like on Sunday night. After four nights of what will eventually be remembered as the Hip-Hop Woodstock, the atrociously sloppy NBA All-Star Game made complete sense. You can't blame the groggy players for shattering the record of "Most Botched Alley-Oop Passes in a Single Exhibition Game." They were still battling a severe retroactive contact high. Hell, I'm battling it right now. The original text of the previous sentence looked like this: "Wrhrhrh jdkdlehj fgfjslelfhfhf sgfhgfkdldhjsd fjg agshshsk ahdjdkdksh Contact High."
What a strange weekend. There was gambling and partying and Vegas and basketball -- four of my favorite things -- with a fashion convention and Chinese New Year happening as well, which meant Vegas was throwing three blockbuster weekends at once. There were so many big-time celebrities in town, a rumored Michael Jackson cameo came and went without a single shrug. So many parties happened that it was impossible to keep track of everything. Unfortunately, the stifling gridlock made it impossible to hit multiple events in one night unless you could afford a limo or helicopter (or were robbing someone who could afford a limo or helicopter). So many gangbangers and troublemakers flooded the Strip that late-night gamblers willingly chose 75-minute cab lines over a 15-minute walk to their next casino. So many wild stories floated around about shootings, robberies and everything else that we never knew what to believe; still, every tale seemed reasonable because there were no cops to be seen. On Saturday night, one of my friends even joked that the city might have to declare martial law, only none of us laughed because we didn't realize he was joking.
I'm telling you, this was a f***ing free-for-all. This was every man for himself. This was Hunter S. Thompson's dream sports weekend. This was Vegas on steroids. This was Vegas' impression of Barry Bonds during spring training in 1998, only if he reeked like stale bong water. And now that it's over, I'm relieved that we finished the weekend without a single riot, that I made it home alive, that I'm still married, that I still have my wallet, that I spent 15 hours playing blackjack in each of four consecutive days and escaped dead-even, that I'm coherent enough to write with the stale smell of weed still trapped in my nostril hairs and my body battling the effects of 72 hours without a single REM cycle. Say what you want about the Hip-Hop Woodstock, but it was definitely memorable. Then again, so is an appendectomy.
Without further ado, let's break out the thumbs for the weekend:
3. Remember when Britney and Christina Aguilera ushered in the Let's Dress Like Hookers Era, and attractive women across America stopped wearing bras -- and eventually, underwear -- followed by every married guy over 30 kicking themselves that they sowed their oats in the Let's Wear Baggy Sweaters, Eat & Be Scared of AIDS Era? Well, like with all great eras, there's been a massive backlash. Now women of all shapes and sizes wear clothes they shouldn't be wearing, which means you're about 100,000 times more likely to see saggy butt checks, exposed pot bellies, flabby arms and love handles than you were in 2001. It's legitimately, unequivocally horrifying -- a full-fledged onslaught against every man's libido. Now I'm thinking that women should have to apply to dress like a hooker, then be forced to renew that license every two years like it's a driver's license. Let's protect the country from itself. On the bright side, now that every female in Vegas dresses like a hooker, it's impossible to tell the real hookers from the fake ones, which means we'll probably have a Vegas-themed game show called "Hooker or Looker" some day.
and if that wasn't enough, I witnessed a three-stage, 25-piece handshake/hug between 50 Cent and Shawn Marion that legitimately could have been pay-per-viewed.