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NBA won't take blame for Vegas

Morning Briefing

February 28, 2007|Mike Penner | Times Staff Writer

Now that the NBA and Las Vegas have combined to give us a preview of how Western civilization will end, the marketing slogan has been given a rewrite:

What happens in Vegas is blamed on the NBA.

After more than a week of a-league-out-of-control criticism, the NBA has decided to do something never seen during All-Star weekend: Play defense.

"To say that trouble follows us -- we don't have any say-so over the people who come to our big events," Utah Jazz guard Derek Fisher, newly named NBA Players Assn. president, told the Salt Lake Tribune.

Meanwhile, the NFL's Teflon image remains stronger than ever. Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones was allegedly involved in a shooting at a Las Vegas strip club during All-Star weekend, yet somehow this became an NBA problem, the NFL slithering off the hook again.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told the New York Times, "I have idiots e-mailing, saying the NBA is at blame for some incidents in Vegas because we can't keep our players like Pacman Jones under control."

Trivia time

Besides football, Jones earned All-American honors in two other sports while attending Westlake High School in Atlanta. Name those sports.

That's because the sportsbooks don't get Versus

Underneath the cover of the NBA All-Star weekend fallout, the NHL is poised to move in and put a team in Las Vegas before the NBA.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "is probably a little more focused on Vegas right now because he has a strategy on how to work through the gaming issues," AEG President and Chief Executive Tim Leiweke was quoted in the SportsBusiness Journal.

The NHL has done a lot of stupid things during Bettman's reign, but it seems unlikely the already watered-down league will expand again. A more probable scenario, based on the league's track record during the Bettman era, would be to relocate an existing franchise.

How 'bout those Las Vegas Canadiens?

No such thing as bad press

Violence, Vegas and pro hockey -- is that a match made in entertainment purgatory or what?

Last Thursday, for example, the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators engaged in a brawl that resulted in 100 penalty minutes -- and many more minutes on sports highlights shows as an example of everything that's wrong with the NHL.

On the bright side, many U.S. viewers were reacquainted with NHL action for the first time in years. According to CBC analyst Don Cherry, San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton said the news coverage of the Buffalo-Ottawa fracas was "great for hockey."

Trivia answer

Basketball and track.

And finally

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Wade Belak collects tattoos. He recently added his seventh, a guardian angel, which no doubt looks better today than it will a few decades from now.

Belak told the Toronto Sun he isn't concerned how his body art will look in his golden years.

"Yeah, I'll be 60 or 70, all wrinkled and hangin' out at the old folks' home," he said. "But I'll look tough, and I'll be getting all the women."

mike.penner@latimes.com

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