Remember when you were a kid, and Christmas was the greatest, most exciting, happy event you could imagine? My favorite movie, A Christmas Story, summed it up perfectly:
“But no matter. Christmas was on its way. Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, upon which the entire kid year revolved.”
Nothing else mattered. Whatever else was going on in the world, inside or outside your home, was moot. Christmas was coming and everything was wonderful.
As a 28-year-old, Christmas isn’t quite what it used to be. But now I have Las Vegas. Specifically, my annual trip to the Mountain West men’s basketball tournament is the week upon which the entire year revolves.
This year will be my eighth consecutive trip to the desert with my friends to root for the Aztecs and make reckless decisions. And I’ve had a pretty good run. In my previous seven trips, SDSU won the tournament twice and only once failed to make it to the championship game.
This year … well … this year let’s just say we’re preparing for some more non-basketball activities to fill our time with.
But that shouldn’t deter you from coming out to support the team and get ripshit drunk off White Russians at the Binion’s craps tables. Here are the Top 10 reasons you should join me and tens of other Aztecs fans in Las Vegas next week for the 2017 Mountain West tourney!
Harassing New Mexico fans
Ever since BYU left, this conference has been without a consensus “most-hated-fanbase” which means tha- hold on … what’s that?
Hmm, I’m being told WE are actually that fanbase now. Huh. Ok then.
Well, anyway, the only other fans who show up in decent numbers to this thing are from Albuquerque. They roll deep and make their presence felt. They consider themselves the premier basketball program in the conference despite never making a Sweet 16. Did you know New Mexico has never advanced to the Sweet 16? It’s true. It’s important to offer a helpful reminder of this fact anytime you interact with a Lobo fan. Because they haven’t. People forget that. Also I beat Kawhi Leonard at beer pong.
The Thomas & Mack Center, our vacation home
Time was, we dominated that building (regular season and postseason) like Nick Duncan dominates an all-you-can eat Vegemite and kangaroo steak buffet. Now it’s been five years since we walked out of there as tournament champions.
Still, if we can manage to win three games there next week, THAT WOULD BE MORE CONFERENCE WINS IN THAT BUILDING THAN UNLV HAS ALL YEAR (2). The Rebels are so, so bad, you guys. It’s terrific.
Earl of Sandwich
When the tables are being unkind and you’ve had roughly one thousand Newcastles and your friends have gone to bed and you’re still coming to terms with losing a five team parlay on a Big Sky game and it feels like all is lost, Earl of Sandwich is there to pick you up. Open 24 hours at Planet Hollywood, a toasted sandwich is a beacon of cheesy hope in your darkest hour.
As dads like to say, they didn’t build all those bright and shiny hotels in the middle of the desert by people WINNING money in the casinos. Still, sometimes people really do win* money in Vegas. Just bet the under for every Aztecs game and ride those earnings on black at the roulette table. Always bet on black. I can’t stress that enough. Even if you win by betting on red you’ve made a terrible mistake and should feel shame. Red is for cowards.
*you will not win money
I haven’t been yet myself but it seems pretty cool. Do you love golf but hate nature and exercise? Then we have the place for you! Throw in some $14 Jameson shots and finally, it’s a golf activity for MEN!
I am an unapologetic In-N-Out loyalist, but even I can admit Shake Shack is the best place for a fast food burger in Las Vegas. Two years ago, my friend who had been a devout vegetarian for years was so smitten he decided to dive head-first into the red meat and cheese wonderment. Sure, he spent the wee hours of the next morning paying for it dearly in the bathroom, because his stomach remembered that ground beef is basically poison. That Shack Sauce tho.
Potential romantic rendezvous
It’s Vegas. People dress nice and get drunk and things happen.
Maybe you’ll have a one night stand with a guy/girl you met in a club and bonded with over $27 vodka Red Bulls. Maybe you meet your future husband/wife. (Yes, I have a friend who is now married to a fellow Aztecs fan she met during a March Vegas trip.)
Maybe you’ll spend two hours talking to someone at 3:00 AM at a bar in the Hard Rock Hotel and they make out with you in public and days later tell you they were too drunk to remember much of what you talked about but you start dating each other anyway, and while the relationship lasts for only a few brief months you reflect on it all as a positive and enriching experience from a personal growth perspective.
I’m just saying, maybe.
A tradition started by The Show following the 2012 victory over BYU in the finals: an Ocean’s Eleven-esque meetup of Aztecs fans at the Bellagio fountains at midnight for victory champagne and cigars. It truly is an awesome tradition … that really only happened once, since that was the last time we won.
We did bring it back a few months ago to celebrate the football team’s Las Vegas Bowl win, but at this point we’re all old enough to be secure in admitting that cigars are fucking awful.
Hanging out with players of defeated teams from other conferences
The Mountain West isn’t the only conference in Vegas next week. The Pac-12 and the WAC both host their tournaments in the city at the same time. The downside of this is four out of every five people you see are Arizona fans. The upside is the players who lose in early rounds but get one last night to rage in Vegas before their flight in the morning.
My personal favorite encounter was the two Idaho players, head-to-toe in team gear, walking around with a pitcher of Bud Light, asking us if we knew where to get some weed. Miss you, Vandals.
We *COULD* actually, you know, win the thing
It’s good to want things. Let’s get the trophy, Aztecs.