By ALAN SNEL
Basketball fan Jason Wilson came all the way from Tampa to Las Vegas Friday for what he thought was the biggest sports event in Sin City on Saturday.
Wilson, an ER doctor at Tampa General Hospital, is here for the Big3 basketball championship game, where three former NBA players take on another trio of former NBAers in a 3-on-3 competition cooked up by rapper and actor Ice Cube.
When Wilson’s jet landed in Vegas at 9 a.m., the ER doc — with his girlfriend and a niece in tow — made it to the MGM Grand hotel-casino and heard something about some other sports event going on Saturday. Something about an undefeated boxer coming out of retirement at age 40 to box an MMA star with a colorful personality and a legion of Irish fans.
“When I got to Vegas, I thought to myself, ‘Oh, there’s a fight,?’ ” Wilson said with a laugh.
Photo credits: Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau
Wilson made it to the plaza outside T-Mobile Arena Friday afternoon. But that’s the closest he will be to yet another so-called “fight of the century” in Las Vegas. Those in the boxing industry are not giving Conor McGregor much of a chance to beat Floyd Mayweather, let alone land a solid punch to the chin of the 149.5-pound Mayweather, who is 49-0.
Wilson, his girlfriend, Nereia, and niece, Olivia, will head over to downtown Las Vegas to catch punk rock band Rancid Friday night and then watch the Big3 championship game Saturday afternoon. And they might catch Britany Spears, too, before heading back to Tampa.
Wilson is looking forward to watching the two three-man teams face off at the MGM Grand Garden Arena for the Big3 title. It’s a battle between the 3 Headed Monsters with coach and former NBA superstar Gary Payton and sharpshooter Rashard Lewis and Trilogy, which features Rashad McCants.
It seemed as though Wilson’s taxi driver who ferried the doctor from McCarren to MGM Grand liked basketball fans over boxing fans.
“He asked what I was in town for and I said, ‘I was going to the Big3 championship.’ He said, ‘I like basketball fans. Boxing fans are like turd dumplings,’ ” Wilson recalled.
Wilson said the times of the Big3 games were constantly being shifted as the organizers shifted their hoops schedule to avoid conflicts with the Mayweather vs. McGregor event.
“They changed the times so that the players could watch the fight,” Nereia observed. “The Big3 got drowned out by the fight.”
The Big3 attendance averaged more than 11,000 per game during the season that ran from June to August.
Wilson won’t be buying the $150 ticket to watch the fight at a closed-circuit watch party at MGM Grand. And he certainly won’t be paying the average ticket of more than $3,000 to see the boxing match in person.
He’ll be plenty happy catching Big3 hoops, some punk bands and Britany.
He’ll let the spectacle of a boxing fight remain in the hands of Mayweather, McGregor and 20,000 other folks who will fill T-Mobile Arena Saturday.
In other sports-business news, Floyd Mayweather’s dad enjoyed making the rounds in the media center Friday.
Irish fans enjoyed flying their colors.
For some reason, the PR people and T-Mobile Arena folks refused to allow credentialed media into the weigh-in event Friday. Not cool.