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Walton: Coach deserved a punch

Bill Walton has a regret: not punching Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson on behalf of Jim Gray.

Walton’s clearly feeling chipper again after recent surgery to correct serious back problems that forced him to retire from broadcasting.

The former NBA great was among an all-star lineup that turned out for Gray, the veteran sports reporter, who celebrated his 50th birthday with a bash at the Palms on Saturday.

When it was Walton’s turn to pay tribute to Gray, he recalled the time Jackson refused to do a post-game interview if Gray was in the room. Gray eventually left the room and Walton filled in for him.

Walton told the gathering Saturday that Jackson did Gray a disservice and owed him an apology. “I should have punched (Jackson) in the nose and walked out,” Walton said.

The celebrity crowd included: Muhammad Ali, CNN’s Larry King, baseball standout Joe Morgan, hotel developer Steve Wynn, retired NFL star Eric Dickerson, NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West, former Denver Broncos running back Floyd Little, boxing analyst Al Bernstein, NBA Hall of Famer Julius Erving, NFL coaching Hall of Famer Don Shula, NBA great Paul Silas and members of the Maloof family.

Gray also invited his first TV boss, Denver sports anchor Mike Nolan, who recalled Gray’s internship days.

Monte Carlo headliner Frank Caliendo made a surprise appearance and entertained the guests. The dinner was held in Moon nightclub and catered by N9NE Group.

THE SCENE AND HEARD

Caesars Palace has reportedly booked Asian megastar Rain at the Colosseum theater on Dec. 24-25. The South Korean-born star, whose real name is Jeong Ji-hoon, will star in James McTeigue‘s new film, “Ninja Assassin,” set for release Nov. 25. Rain is one of the first Asian pop singing stars who has a large fan base beyond Asia.

SIGHTINGS

Vice President Joe Biden, playing South Shore golf course Sunday at Lake Las Vegas. … At HBO’s prefight party at Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill (MGM Grand) on Saturday: Jeremy Piven, Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Dillon,Tyrese Gibson, Will Ferrell, Jerome Bettis, Eddie Murray, Mario Lopez, Derek Jeter, Winky Wright and Puck. … At N9NE steakhouse on Saturday: New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter, chatting at the bar with Jermaine Dye and Frank Thomas. Also at N9NE: Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs and Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers, at separate tables. … Mimmo Ferraro’s restaurant, delivering a catering order to Biden at a residence in Quail Ridge in Henderson on Saturday. Biden’s staff and Secret Service detail dined at the restaurant Friday and Saturday. The delivery included: imported bufala mozzarella caprese, homemade gnocchi in a pink vodka sauce, homemade spaghettini fra diavola and fresh bread. … At Pure (Caesars Palace) on Saturday: Chelsea Handler, with boyfriend Ted Harbert, Comcast Entertainment CEO, Handler’s assistant Chuy Bravo, singer Natasha Bedingfield and actress Mary McCormack; Brandon Jacobs of the New York Giants and teammates Danny Ware and Andre Brown. … At the Hard Rock Hotel on Saturday: Actor Kevin Dillon of “Entourage,” and actor Amaury Nolasco, dining at AGO; Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, partying with friends at Body English. Also at Body English: rapper/producer Jermaine Dupri. … Jessica Lowndes of the hit TV series “90210,” celebrating her 21st birthday with a party at Lavo (Palazzo). Her group included boyfriend/actor Aaron Paul and Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers. Her birthday weekend included indoor skydiving on Sunday. … Rosario Dawson, dining at Lavo on Saturday, with her boyfriend, international DJ Mathieu Schreyer, and friends. … TV personality Melissa Rycroft and her fiancée Tye Strickland, celebrating their upcoming wedding with bachelor and bachelorette parties in Las Vegas. They were spotted rocking out at the 10 p.m. performance of Blue Man Group at The Venetian.

THE PUNCH LINE

Sarah Palin‘s memoir is out this week. It’s easy to find in the bookstore. It’s on the far right.” — Harrah’s headliner Rita Rudner

Norm Clarke can be reached at (702) 383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find additional sightings and more online at www.normclarke.com.

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