What do you get when you combine a 14,000 square-foot ballroom of an award winning 800-million dollar luxury casino resort - the first of its caliber outside of Las Vegas; a starting lineup of an NBA championship winning team; a surprise guest performance by a world-famous artist / hip hop legend; and a man with a name familiar to most in the city of Detroit?
You get Dennis Archer Jr. hosting Pistons’ Richard “Rip” Hamilton’s 30th birthday party at the MGM Grand Ballroom with Busta Rhymes leading the invited guests (like Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, Chauncey Billups) in a toast and a traditional rendition of “Happy Birthday to You.” You get a night worth remembering. I did. The night of
The night began with my first visit to the MGM Grand Detroit Resort Hotel and Casino, which opened in October 2007 and was named as one of the "Top 10 new U.S. hotels of 2007" by Gayot and mentioned as one of "53 places to visit in 2008" by The New York Times. I was, to say the least, very impressed by the elegant, elaborately designed award winning structure - the MGM Grand Detroit was also recently awarded the prestigious distinction of "Development of the Year 2007" on January 29, 2008 by the 2008 Americas Lodging Investment Summit.
On the way to the Grand Ballroom, I passed by two Starbucks; numerous retail establishments; a relaxing, elegant piano-style bar; tranquil waterfalls; the V lounge – which was recently named in Nightclub & Bar magazine's list of Top 100 Nightclubs of 2008; Wolfgang Puck’s Grille; and (Michael) Mina's SALTWATER Restaurant which was recently awarded "Restaurant of the Year" by the Detroit Free Press.
That was on the way to the party.
When I arrived at the doors of the Grand Ballroom, also referred to as the Grand Salon, I ordered a Cosmopolitan from the nearest bar to ‘break the ice.’ But, as I soon found out, the only ice that didn’t immediately melt in the ‘hot’ ambiance of the Miami-themed room - tented with white linens and filled with palm trees – were the ice sculptures of the number 30 next to a likeness of Rip’s face which decorated the strolling buffet tables.
Between deejay Mick Boogies' retro-disco, R & B and hip hop beat mixes; the announcement of the guest of honor's arrival, “Rip Hamilton is in the building!” called for another drink! But I had to wait before stepping into an oncoming entourage that blocked me from getting to the bar – Rasheed Wallace had also just arrived.
The night was still very young at as we had just begun to celebrate one year older in the life of Rip.
Emcee Kenny Burns and rapper Doug E. Fresh called for Rip to join them up on stage. So, I moved with the other guests, in a solitary mass, behind him. Everyone wanted to personally wish Rip a ‘happy birthday’ and hopefully get a photo opportunity – I was no different – and Rip graciously complied. It was then I realized that Rip was a baby when I worked for the Piston's organization under the leadership of Dick Vitale . . . Rip was a baby when I was a Classy Chassis! I'm not sure if that memory sent me back to the past or speeding into the future of this moment.
There is something about Detroiters and the way we love our athletes and support our sports teams; the way we remain real and true to our musical roots and the way we take pride in our city’s new developments, renovations, history and progress . . . . Well, the night combined all of who we are, what we are, and much of what we hold dear. The night was magical and getting better by the hour.
By now, I was in the front; the extreme front. My thighs were intimate with the edge of the stage. I was there to take photos and video clips, but what I did not know was that I was also right there at the precise moment when, to our surprise, Busta Rhymes was introduced. The mere mention of his name brought screams and shouts, a rhythmic motion of the mass crowd and hundreds of flickering camera flashes. He is, after all, a legend in his own right. And whether or not one loves or despises hip hop music, Busta Rhymes has achieved world-wide recognition and success in a multitude of artistic vehicles from television to film as an actor, writer, director, singer, performer and soundtrack composer. He does have a commanding and magnetic stage presence about him. And there is nothing quite the likes of raising a glass in a birthday salute to Rip Hamilton while joining Busta Rhymes in a “choir-like” rendition of “Happy Birthday to You.”
The evening was made possible by Dennis Archer Jr. - the name speaks for itself - and Ambassador Magazine. I call Dennis,
Rip was the man of the evening. Busta was the man of the hour. And Dennis was and is the man of
I know what I did last Sunday. I won’t soon forget what I did last Sunday.