By Norm Clarke
VSiN Contributing Columnist
Longtime boxing commentator Al Bernstein never met sportcasting legend Brent Musburger until this week. But they exchanged letters about five decades ago when Bernstein was an aspiring journalist.
Now they are teaming up as lead hosts of the Vegas Stats & Information Network, which has a special preview on Super Bowl Sunday.
Bernstein, 66, reminded Musburger, 77, of that long-ago connection during their meeting a few days before Friday’s unveiling of the VSiN studio at the South Point Hotel Casino.
“When he was writing a sports column for the Chicago American (in the early 1970s), I was in college and I was sports editor of the school paper,” Bernstein said. “I took my columns, about four or five of them, and sent them to Brent. I asked him if he would critique them.
“He sent me the most beautiful note, encouraging me and saying this and that. I told him it was nice that somebody took the time to do that. That’s kind of the measure of somebody.”
On Feb. 27, Bernstein, one of the most prominent voices of boxing for almost 40 years between ESPN and Showtime, will be part of VSiN’s stable of experts on SiriusXM. He and Musburger and others will be part of the daily broadcasts from the studio built in the center of the sports book at South Point.
Musburger, who left ABC/ESPN last week after nearly 50 years in broadcasting, will host a special edition of his show, “My Guys in the Desert,” today from noon to 3 p.m. PT.
“Bernstein by the Book” will have the noon to 2 p.m. time slot once the network is launched.
It will be the first national radio channel dedicated to sports gaming.
BARKLEY WON BIG ON BRADY
NBA great Charles Barkley celebrated his 54th birthday Friday inside one of his favorite Las Vegas stops: Mandalay Bay’s Crystal high-limit salon.
It was 15 years ago when Sir Charles found himself at odds with Mandalay Bay after a controversy over two Super Bowl bets that cost Nick Bogdanovich his job as sports book director.
Insider reports at the time said Barkley, a guest at the MGM Grand, went over to Mandalay Bay to make a $500,000 wager on the New England Patriots, who were getting 14 points against the St. Louis Rams. He also put down $50,000 on the Patriots money line at 4-1.
Tom Brady, in his second season as a starter after being the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL draft, led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl win, 20-17, on a last-second field goal by Adam Vinatieri.
But Bogdanovich had given Barkley the tickets without receiving any cash or chips. Bogdanovich, who had assumed Barkley’s credit was good and had not run Barkley’s bet past his superiors, learned Barkley had already exceeded his $500,000 in casino credit. Mandalay Bay wasn’t a sister property of what is now MGM Resorts International until 2005.
When the staff realized Barkley hadn’t signed a marker, a good-faith agreement to pay his betting losses, Mandalay Bay frantically tracked down Barkley to sign a marker or void the bet. Barkley refused to sign anything.
“So he was walking around with more than a half million in bets that he technically didn’t have to pay for,” wrote Dave Tuley of the Daily Racing Form.
Thanks to Brady, Barkley won about $700,000 with his no-money-down Super Bowl wagers. Mandalay Bay and Barkley made peace years ago.
THE SCENE AND HEARD
Among the well-wishers who gathered at the VSiN ribbon ceremony was Las Vegan Donn Pearlman, who worked with Musburger at Chicago’s CBS affiliate WBBM in the 1970s.
“Brent is absolutely one of the ‘good guys,’ a superb professional who could accurately and compellingly ad-lib a five-minute radio sportscast using just a few clippings from the wire and his vast knowledge of sports,” Pearlman said. “He often would do his morning drive-time reports on WBBM Newsradio in Chicago from his suburban home, and sometimes you could hear a canary singing in the background as Brent tried not to laugh while doing his sportscast.” …
UFC Hall Of Famer Forrest Griffin will host the Big Sunday Game Bash at Hatari Sports Bar at The Boulevard Mall.
Rapper Ty Dolla $ign, partying at Marquee Nightclub (Cosmopolitan) after dining at Beauty & Essex. He performed an impromptu performance of his hit “Blasé” then headed for Tao Nightclub at The Venetian for another special set….Images of Paris Hilton celebrating in Las Vegas surfaced on social media Friday and Saturday. She’s been spending New Year’s in Las Vegas since childhood, when her parents made it a family tradition.
ON THIS DAY IN…
February 5, 1909: The Nevada Legislature carves a new county out of Lincoln County and names it for Montana Sen. William Clark, a railroad magnate. Las Vegas, founded four years earlier, is chosen as the county seat over Searchlight, a mining town 60 miles south.
THE PUNCH LINE
“There is a new restaurant in Spain that just opened where everybody dines in the restaurant completely naked. And you thought it was awkward going to dinner with your parents before. Everyone in there is fully nude. Because who amongst us hasn’t been in a crowded locker room and thought, ‘Man, I wish I could eat here?’” – Late night talk-show host James Corden.