Pistons hitting
on all cylinders!

Feb 13, 2007 2:26 AM

Upon visiting some of our finest sports books last week, I was astonished to see the Detroit Pistons still listed as a robust 11-1 to win the NBA Championship. They look to me to be the class of the East, and should they reach the finals there is plenty of room left if and when they face either Phoenix or Dallas.

Certainly there would be enough cushion for a healthy hedge bet, which would enable you to make a profit regardless of the eventual outcome. Take a shot with the Pistons. I did, but I always take shots and rarely hit the target. As long as you have bullets you’ve got to keep firing.

There have been many changes in this fabulous city since my family’s arrival in 1972. The most recognizable has been the population explosion, especially in Clark County. Desert sand was almost instantaneously converted into green grass all over town.

When my friend Scotty Periel bought a house around Jones Boulevard I remember telling him that the California border was on the next block.

Well, who’s laughing now? In those days you could drive any place in town in less than 20 minutes. How far can you get in 20 minutes today?

Caesar’s Palace was the showpiece of the Strip, followed somewhat by the International Hotel, which is now the Las Vegas Hilton, which coincidentally brings me to my story for this week.

I became a respectable customer at the Hilton when I got to town because it was real close to where I lived and the people working there appreciated my business.

I certainly wasn’t a big player, but they treated me as one. Anyway, while sitting in the casino manager’s office one day, we got into a conversation about my oldest son, Michael’s, bar-mitzvah, which was to occur within the next six months.

I wanted to rent a small banquet room to accommodate about 80-100 people for the traditional party on Saturday night.

The casino manager, Jimmy Newman, said "I’ve got a better idea for your group" and suggested that we all be his guests at the dinner show, and enjoy Bobby Darrin and Myron Cohen on stage.

I thought he was putting me on at first, but I was assured that he was quite serious by his executive assistant. I reminded all in the room that this would take place on a Saturday night, when there was always a sellout for both shows.

Incidentally, in those days almost all 7 p.m. shows included dinner for the patrons. Jimmy said "Sid, let me worry about that, you just bring them on." I was so excited I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my family this astonishing news.

Six months later the night finally came (much to the relief of my son) and a great time was had by all. As a significant side note, my friend from California and I put up $500 each on the crap table for one roll on the field.

The bet won, and the Hilton employees got a $2,000 tip, and now everybody was as elated as the Diamond family and their guests.

To say that Jimmy Newman was a classy individual would be the understatement of the year. He indeed was one hell of a man. True enough, the town has drastically changed, but the memories remain of the people who helped build it.