Damian Lillard’s power play
The nuclear option
BY HENRY ABBOTT
Before heading to Tokyo for the Olympics, the U.S. men’s senior national basketball team joked that they were under “house arrest” for a couple of weeks at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas. The gleaming tower—it looks like a curved 600-foot tall mirror—isn’t the worst place to hunker down. (Remember the casino scenes in Jason Bourne or Now You See Me? That’s the Aria.) But masks, tests, and quarantines—the Olympics and Team USA have COVID rules galore—mean there was opulence but not freedom.
The second-level promenade became a major focal point. A giant set of outdoor swimming pools, an enormous fitness center, and, clustered together by the private elevator to the Sky Suites, the three restaurants where the players ate almost every dinner: Bardot Brasserie, Jean Georges Steakhouse, and Damian Lillard’s favorite, Carbone. Occasionally they’d mix it up with a trip downstairs to Javier’s for high-end Mexican food just off the casino floor.
The whole time Team USA was at the Ar…