Las Vegas welcomed the NBA for the first-ever In-Season Tournament at T-Mobile Arena for the semifinal game on Dec. 7 and the championship game on Dec. 9. Lakers fans flooded the arena to watch the two semi-finalists go toe-to-toe for the NBA Cup. A grand turnout further supports the efforts of the NBA to further integrate with the Las Vegas professional sports community.
To get more insight into the NBA affiliation with Las Vegas and answers to rumors of a Las Vegas NBA team and a professional basketball sports arena, I spoke with Joey Graziano, the head of event strategy and development for NBA. Read on to hear how the In-Season Tournament and additional NBA events in Las Vegas forge a path to even more professional sports activity in the city.
Q: I am happy we can connect more on the NBA presence in Las Vegas. Joey, how long have you been spearheading the events strategy and development sector of the NBA?
A: I have been working at the NBA for the last five years, [particularly] on all of our global events. My hands are in everything from NBA All-Star to the finals and the draft to our global games worldwide.Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram addressing the press at NBA In-Season Tournament in Las Vegas
Q: Can you expand on the NBA business opportunities as of late?
Launching new businesses like NBA Con was [an excellent opportunity to showcase that] our players are just as dynamic off the court. Our players are also entrepreneurs, fashion designers, artists and musicians. We wanted to bring the holistic interests of our players into one new experiential opportunity for our fans, so we launched NBA Con.
We built another business called NBA Experience, a combination of our existing portfolio of global events around the world. We operate more than 300 events worldwide a year but also bring net new experiences to our fans.
Q: As the years go by, there is more and more NBA presence in Las Vegas. Can you expand on the path that the NBA is paving within the Vegas market on an overarching scale and the significance to the league as a whole and the players as individuals?
A: We are building tradition right now; this is about legacy. At what point do many of our professional athletes get to say that they won the first-ever event? It only exists for very few athletes because our leagues are well-established with over 75 years of history at the NBA.
Our players recognize these are legacy-creating moments to say you won the first ever NBA In Season Tournament and own the first ever NBA Cup. When you look at Las Vegas, you [see] a city built for big moments that galvanize a global community.
More than 215 countries and territories broadcast our games in over 60 languages. Our In Season Tournament is a moment where the world takes notice, and we wanted to do that in a city built for our fans.
Q: I'm excited about more professional sports and NBA activity in Las Vegas. The combination of Vegas-scale events and the NBA's huge fan base is a seamless fit.
A: 100%. Fans are craving these immersive experiences, and Vegas has done that on a number of levels. The professional sports [aspect] is certainly one where we have a big say and a large group of, in particular, global fans. We are excited to continue to work with Las Vegas to marry those two together.
Q: There has also been talk of a Las Vegas NBA team. Can you provide more details on that?
A: We're not in a position to make that commitment right now, but it's certainly possible. With each passing year, we continue to grow the fan base here and showcase that this market is exciting in hopes of even bigger opportunities in the future.
Q: Can you give additional insight on an NBA arena in Las Vegas?
A: Adam Silver, our commissioner, has certainly referenced that. We are not at that point right now. There are still some [details] for our next media deals that need working through, but our commitment is to continue to bring more and more to Las Vegas to showcase that there is a hungry fan base here locally; our commitment to the city is strong.
We continue to show that fans worldwide view Vegas as a location they want to earmark on their calendar. If you are going to make one trip a year to see your favorite team, Las Vegas [is the place.] We have seen that across the other professional sports leagues with the teams that you have locally. The combination of that will only continue to drive more energy and excitement around Las Vegas, and at some point, that will lead to more and more opportunities.
The 13th annual Grant a Gift Gala occurred at Allegiant Stadium at the top of November to raise funds to assist families battling Autism. The VIP soiree ahead of the main event began at 4:30 p.m., where donors, parents of the Ackerman Center attendees, supporters and more gathered to connect before the main event just a couple of hours later. The main event began with heartfelt words from Gary Ackerman, board of directors chair of Grant a Gift Autism Foundation Ackerman Center and father to his Autistic son, who accompanied Ackerman on stage.
Ackerman invited Las Vegas Raiders and Aces owner Mark Davis to the stage to receive an ongoing support and philanthropy award for their involvement in the foundation. From beginning the gala in the back of Tommy Bahama's at Townsquare over a decade ago to securing the Allegiant Stadium for the event space, the foundation's efforts and reach have grown drastically since inception.
The foundation team members imparted additional insight into the obstacles of underdiagnosing Autism and other neurodegenerative challenges. Guests enjoyed a burrata cheese appetizer with peach and a dinner of steak, fish and roasted carrots while broadening their understanding of Autism and similar disorders. Not only does the foundation allocate funds raised to provide resources to families with diagnosed members but also to raise awareness of undiagnosed cases or improperly diagnosed individuals.
Online auctions took place throughout the event. The live auction commenced around 8 p.m. Two poodle puppies, one with black and white markings, the other with a honey-colored coat, were auctioned off to new families. Superbowl packages with tickets and corresponding room stays at Wynn Las Vegas, F1 VIP tickets, a Louis Vuitton shopping spree and more enticed guests to bid in the spirit of charitable causes for increased access and resources for families needing guidance through the challenges Autism brings.
The Grant a Gift Gala Foundation made it clear that no families, parents, children or adults affected by Autism need to navigate the disorder alone. With scholarship aid, medical bill assistance, educational resources and more, Grant a Gift Autism Foundation Ackerman Center continues to make a positive impact year after year for the Southern Nevada community.
Travis Scott performed at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, Oct. 29, for Utopia Tour Presents Circus Maximus. The venue had ample security and space to ensure guests' safety and to maintain a manageable range of excitement within the crowd. The merch lines were nearly as long and even longer than the arena entrance lines at times.
Scott arrived on stage at approximately 9:45 p.m. to greet the audience and begin his sold-out show. The stage design featured geological formations erupting from the ground with stone heads resembling Olmec Heads of Mexico. The overall set design combined a prehistoric ancient times feel with modern laser and light shows, with some similarities from the Astroworld tour sets, including fire elements, natural stone features and a historic aesthetic with futuristic components.
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The Circus Maximus tour show at MGM Grand Garden Arena featured floating boulders lifted from the rock formation foundation, serving as mini mobile stages. The sizeable stationary set, which ran vertically from one end of the arena to the other, served as a dynamic base and allowed Scott to interact with all sections in the venue and perform toward every seat in the house. Steps, tunnels, rising platforms, stage floor traps and floating mini-stages created an undulating focus line throughout the performance to keep the crowd guessing.
Scott pulled two fans from the crowd to join him on stage. The first fan was ushered onto the floating stage and secured with safety belts as the mobile stage floated around the arena, with Scott performing on the stationary stage below. The second fan joined Scott on a mobile floating platform and held his arm as the artist performed directly to her. The two danced to his songs and hyped the crowd together.
Scott included newer music from the Utopia album, released in June 2023. Toward the end of the show, Scott performed crowd favorites dating back to the beginning of his mainstream emergence including, "goosebumps," featuring Kendrick Lamar and "SICKO MODE," featuring Drake. Check out additional tour dates near you.
Downtown Las Vegas beats to a different drum than the rest of the city. With creativity, rebellion and pushing boundaries at the epicenter of downtown culture, the Unstripped Food Festival followed suit. From frog legs to pasta, here are some standout dishes from the 2023 Unstripped Downtown Las Vegas food festival.
Created by chef Joe Valdez, the Caciocavallo-stuffed potato cakes and spicy pork belly fed hungry guests of the food fest. Valdez joins "Feast of Friends" leaders to bring extraordinary culinary creations to the mouths that crave them.
Created by chef Winston Matsuuchi, the fried savory, sweet soy braised pork belly served in a bite-sized portion gives just a taste of the flavors—fresh greens on top balance the rich flavors of the meat beneath.
The French escargot cromesquis snail croquette by chef Yuri Szarzewski brought a touch of Paris to Downtown Las Vegas during the Unstripped Food Festival. The French delicacy sans the fancy dining atmosphere prepared street-food style allowed guests to enjoy in a casual setting.
Chef Stephen Lee brought an approachable frog-leg dish to the festival this year. Fried frog legs in France during the Marche de Noel, absolutely, but have you tried chef Lee's in Las Vegas yet?
Chef Francesco di Caudo prepared pasta souffle bolognese for the guests of the "Feast of Friends" Unstripped food festival. Conveniently plated for eating on the go, this dish, traditionally served seated with a fork, knife, spoon and table napkin, was made to enjoy on the move with this specific preparation.
Chef Dustin Lewandowski grilled Jidori chicken thighs for the Unstripped food festival in Downtown Las Vegas. Cucumber salad with sesame seeds offered a fresh counterbalance to enjoy alongside the skewer.
Life Is Beautiful music and art festival returns to downtown Las Vegas each year to connect the community through culture. In 2021, stand-out performances from Billie Eilish and Willow Smith left quite the impression. In 2022, music acts from Gorillaz, Jack Harlow, Jungle and others had the crowds going!
Here is a recap of some of the most impressive performances from the art and music festivals past. Read on to see who else made a splash with stage presence and performances to remember.
At Life Is Beautiful 2021, Billie Eilish captivated the crowd as she danced and serenaded the crowd with her angelic voice and sassy lyrics. Fans were amused with the light shows and the mobile stage that hovered and glided the starlet over the audience.
Willow Smith shook the audience with her energetic performance, original vocals and wild dance moves. A rendition of her initial single hit, "Whip My Hair," was saved for the very last number of her set. She also performed "Meet Me at Our Spot" with Tyler Cole. Willow shared her newer music and earlier tracks with the crowd during her 2021 performance at Life Is Beautiful.
On September 16, 2022, Jungle performed classic crowd favorites, including "Casio" and "Busy Earnin'" along with newer tunes from the music group. Jungle put the fun in funk with their electro-pop dance numbers on the first day of Life Is Beautiful 2022.
Gorillaz brought the songs that gained them fame, including "Feel Good Inc." and "Last Living Souls." Damon Albarn led on the mic while the band jammed out and entertained the crowd on day two. With the identity of each band member remaining concealed for over a decade in the earlier stages of their music career in the late 90s and early 2000s, matching the physical artists with their virtual animations was quite a treat for longtime supporters.
Lorde pleased viewers with her pretty pink wardrobe and stage design. The songstress and her stage performers interacted with an artistic installation that was part of the set design. Her act combined the two pivotal elements of Life Is Beautiful: installation art and live music.
Big Boi stayed on top of his vocals during his performance while pumping up the crowd on day three during the sunset at the downtown stage. "I Like the Way You Move," "Kryptonite (I'm On It)" remix and other hits had festival goers dancing and singing along.
On September 18, Jack Harlow played his set at the downtown stage. Hits like "First Class" and "What's Poppin" boosted the crowd. Harlow maintained high energy and sincere connection with his audience through every number. He expressed gratitude and appreciation for hip-hop culture in between songs and even performed in the crowd to further integrate with his fans.
Kygo took the Bacardi stage and audience by storm with his lively and energetic performance during Life Is Beautiful 2022. For his closing number, Justin Jesso appeared to perform the vocals for "Firestone," and a violin sextet performed live strings for a beautiful and powerful closing number.
Following the Jack Harlow set, Calvin Harris took the stage to give a grand finale performance, which concluded the 2022 art and music festival. Harris took the crowd through his most famous mainstream songs and hidden gems. With his mindfully curated track selection, the electro-pop DJ and producer guided the energy by undulating from bangers to more chill beats.
The Las Vegas Allegiant Stadium hosted the 2023 Pro-Bowl weekend on Sunday, February 5 for the first time. Hit rappers 2 Chainz, Lil Baby and Roddy Ricch took over the Drai's Nightclub stage in a series of performances for a crowd of A-listers throughout the weekend. The energy was high as a star-studded cast of NFL players and musicians partied at the exclusive rooftop hotspot.
Drai’s Beachclub • Nightclub is a hub for celebrities, athletes and musicians alike with their Drai’s LIVE concert series, presenting crowds with an elite set of full-length performances from today’s most culturally relevant hip-hop artists. The event attracted an abundance of NFL pros and top athletes to the city. Amidst the big game, three all-star performances brought unbeatable celebrations to the venue.Roddy Ricch performing in style at Drai's Nightclub
Kicking off the weekend on Friday February 3, Roddy Ricch packed a punch with his iconic hit songs “The Box,” “Rockstar” and “Ballin.” The rapper has received widespread acclaim through his quick rise to fame, sporting Grammy, BET and Billboard Awards among others for his sonically fresh records.Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers at Drai's Nightclub
Speaking of “Ballin,” the weekend guest list was composed of a compelling NFL-player lineup including members of the Bengals including B.J. Hill and Joe Burrow, the 49-ers including Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel, the Cowboys, the Ravens, the Jaguars, the Bills, the Dolphins and the Seahawks. Also in attendance were famed boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Pro Bowl halftime-headliner duo Rae Sremmurd.Floyd Mayweather Jr. professional boxing legend
The celebrations continued on Saturday February 4 with a featured performance from legendary rapper 2 Chainz. Delivering a set of bangers to the crowd, 2 Chainz showcased his multi-platinum discography including hits “Big Bank,” “Different,” “Birthday” and “2 Step.”2 Chainz performance at Drai's Nightclub
Closing out the weekend on Sunday February 5, Lil Baby carried out a highly-anticipated performance. The RIAA Diamond-certified figure capped off the impressive string of sets with hits “Drip Too Hard,” “My Dawg” and “Yes Indeed.” The rapper’s signature snappy melodies and explosive Grammy-nominated lyricism set the mood amongst the Vegas Strip skyline and LED-lit ambience.Lil Baby connects with Drai's Nightclub audience.
Drai’s Nightclub is centrally located 11-stories up on the rooftop of The Cromwell on the corner of Flamingo Boulevard and Las Vegas Boulevard. The multi-level oasis offers 30,000 square feet of luxurious excitement and almost guaranteed celebrity sightings. The destination for musical immersion boasts a premiere array of artist performances with past shows including the likes of Rick Ross, Wiz Khalifa and Gucci Mane.
See Also: The 31 Best Las Vegas Bars And Lounges
The games continue this upcoming weekend with a kickoff on Friday from megastar BIA, known for “Whole Lotta Money,” among others. On Saturday, catch DaBaby’s stage takeover. Get in on the action with Drai’s Nightclub VIP table reservations and review the music artist lineup here.
Las Vegas is home to the Latin Grammys and Chef Lorena Garcia hosts an upscale dinner party in partnership with Rémy Martin each year for her closest friends within the latin music industry. This year Garcia's event Sabor de Sobremesa included CEO of Saban Music Group Gustavo Lopez and was located at her restaurant Chica Las Vegas located inside of The Venetian Las Vegas on the night of the Latin Grammys, November 17.
The evening began with flutes of champagne and short glasses of Rémy Martin sangria for guests to sip while listening to the DJ play. Chef Lorena Garcia mingled with her guests, took photos with friends and then took over the DJ booth to give a speech.Chef Lorena Garcia and editor Danica Stockton
Garcia expressed to her guests from the DJ booth, "I want you to enjoy tonight the beautiful menu that I have prepared for this exclusively for this wonderful night.” She continued, “Sobremesa is the beautiful connection that we have in the Latin culture that actually ties so much to the music to the biggest night in Latin music tonight which we are celebrating the Latin Grammys." Lopez followed Garcia’s words with his comments of gratitude to those he has worked with in the music industry and his appreciation for Latin culture as a whole.CEO of Saban Music Group Gustavo Lopez
Chef Garcia then prompted guests to find their seats in the dining room which was decorated with fresh flowers, name cards for each guest, tailored menus to the special meal of the night and polaroid cameras scattered about the dining tables for guests to take photos with. Notable guests in attendance of the exclusive and intimate dining experience included pop singer Manu Manzo and R&B singer Jean Rodriguez and his Coast City duo counterpart Danny Flores.Coast City music artists duo
The intimate dinner included savory and sweet Latin American-inspired dishes like Wagyu quesa-birria empanadas, arepas, Peruvian ceviche, cauliflower and additional savory main dishes, each introduced to the exclusive group of diners by Garcia herself. During dinner Rémy Martin specialty cocktails were served including the fruity and baking spice-forward tercet tropical and the citrust, sweet and sour Rémy uptown. To finish the meal, the toffee-flavored, creamy and silky Rémy coquito was served alongside the tres leches dessert.Tres leches dessert
Deep-rooted connections were then made following dessert in true Sobremesa fashion, which is the tradition of conversing over the table once dinner has commenced and spending time with the hosts as well as fellow dinner guests following a delicious meal. Rémy Martin and celebrity chef Garcia plan to bring the music industry together again at the next Latin Grammys to honor the hard work of music industry professionals and to foster meaningful connections.
Las Vegas Nevada – Art collector Christian Carbone made some noise at the 2020 MAD Ball (which took place across the country virtually via ZOOM), October 15th. Setting a new price record for artist Ryan Wilson / ThankYouX’s 2019 work, titled “Meet Me In The Mystery.” The 36x60-inch work is painted in oil, spray paint, and acrylic on canvas. Carbone joins a host of other prominent collectors of ThankYouX; including celebrities like The Chainsmokers, Billie and Finneas Eilish, and Evan Spiegel. ThankYouX has exhibited at Art Basel Miami, as well as in London, Hong Kong, and Los Angeles, and has been featured by the Museum of Art and Design's Luminaries program. All proceeds from the sale benefited The Museum of Art and Design, Columbus Circle, NY.
With art pieces donated by Christian Dior, and set in an opulent home in Las Vegas's billionaire's "Enclave," the 2020 MAD Ball and charity auction consisted of various works by emerging and established artists; including ThankYouX, Kevin HEES, and MAD Ball honoree Judy Chicago. The event coupled as the launch party for AKTION ART, a boutique high-end contemporary art gallery and advisory, founded by Nick Hissom and Kameron Ramirez. AKTION ART represents both Kevin HEES and ThankYouX.
The curated guest list included a mix of international collectors, art and fashion connoisseurs, celebrities, and entrepreneurs. British socialite Lady Victoria Hervey posed for photographers, while tech-star Lucy Guo sipped champagne alongside American property developer Christian Carbone. W Magazine's Stacy Engman stunned in a sexy Art Capsul look. DJ 3LAU chatted with music executives Dana Biondi and Kyle Leunissen, while artistic laser projections curated by 3LAU x SSX3LAU danced across the venues Cyprus trees. The AKTION really heated up as the MAD Ball benefit auction began, with Carbone's bid on ThankYouX's "Meet Me In The Mystery" being the star sale of the evening. Kevin HEES and Judy Chicago’s works also achieved high prices benefitting the Museum of Art and Design.
In true "Viva Las Vegas" style, the event featured Cirque du Soleil aerialists, fire dancers, and show girls; while the ornate menu consisted of wagyu sliders, lobster rolls, and black truffle hors d'oeuvres. Guests were greeted with glasses of champagne upon arrival. Lady Victoria Hervey snapped Instagram stories aboard Carbone's Learjet—which ferried guests in for the occasion, as a fleet of Rolls Royces provided by Towbin MotorCars lined the entrances to the outdoor soirée, where socially distanced guests remained until the early hours of the morning.
Carbone spoke to Vegas Magazine in summation of the evening, saying: “Nick and Kameron throw the best events hands down. Congratulations to them on the launch of their new company AKTION ART. I had a great time, and I am thrilled to support the Museum of Art and Design, and be the buyer of “Meet Me In The Mystery”, by ThankYouX. I am passionate about art, and when I see great art, I have to have it.”