Lately, it's hard to get a Blazers seat that costs less than a pair of vintage Air Jordans—not to mention that games last a very long time.

When next year's season hits, the easier (and cheaper) solution to spending some quality time with the world's best ballers is to head down to the bar at the Hotel Monaco at Southwest 5th Avenue and Washington Street, which bills itself as the "hotel designed to meet every last need of NBA teams on the road."

Portland has a number of gussied-up boutique hotels, but the Monaco rose above the competition by installing 95-inch mattresses, and specially training its staff to handle the demands of very tall people who travel with lots of luggage. In April, ESPN's magazine highlighted the Monaco's giraffe-motif bathrobes, and NBA players' habits of checking in under assumed names to thwart stalkers.

But local celebrity chronicler (and former WW staffer) Byron Beck says ESPN missed a trick: The real superstars often peel off from their teams and stay at the Nines, the luxury hotel atop Macy's at 525 SW Morrison St.

Beck says Michael Jordan started the trend on his frequent post-NBA visits to Portland to see his paymasters at Nike. Word spread to Jordan's heirs, players such as Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant, late of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"Jordan started it all," Beck says. "They gave him the run of the Nines, even before it officially opened."