When it comes to team sports, few squads will ever be able to match all that Michael Jordan’s 1995-96 Chicago Bulls were able to accomplish — 72 regular-season wins, an 18-game winning streak and an NBA Championship. With those days long over, few thought MJ would ever join another team that was able to do so much. But that’s exactly what he’s done with the group helping him orchestrate The Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational (April 3-6) every year. Thanks to Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star ARIA Resort & Casino, Shadow Creek Golf Course and a few others, some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment come together annually to raise money for a host of charitable organizations. One of the A-listers on this year’s roster is Wayne Gretzky, arguably the greatest player to ever lace up a pair of hockey skates. Gretzky, who runs a fantasy camp in Las Vegas every March, is well versed on the city’s ins and outs. We caught up with him before teeing off at this year’s invitational to get his thoughts on must-visit attractions, golf and smart traveling tips.
You and Michael Jordan dominated your respective sports like few others ever have. When you take to the golf course, are you looking at it competitively, or do you just approach it as a relaxing pastime and don’t put much weight into scores?
For me, the game is done completely for fun. It’s a great family sport, and I find it to be very relaxing.
Which aspect of golf have you found to be the most challenging?
I think the entire sport is very challenging. For me, no part of the game is easier than the other.
When you played professional hockey, which city did you look forward to visiting the most?
It was always fun for me to play in Toronto in front of my family and friends.
You also have your fantasy camp in Vegas. What is it about the city that you enjoy so much?
Vegas is the perfect city for my camp — great hotels, nice hockey arena, wonderful restaurants, lots to do and great weather in March.
For those readers who’ll be coming to the city for the golf tournament, can you suggest a few must-visit attractions?
Everything in Vegas is wonderful, but if you can see Cirque du Soleil’s KA at MGM Grand or O at Bellagio, you will love them.
It seems like Las Vegas’ name is always mentioned when it comes to an NHL or NBA team being relocated. What are your thoughts about one of the four major leagues setting up permanent shop in Sin City?
I hope one day the NHL goes to Vegas. I believe the general atmosphere of the city would be great for the NHL.
With all of your camps, business ventures and appearances, your travel schedule must be quite intense. Can you offer a tip to travelers trying to stay sane when they seemingly live out of a suitcase?
When you travel, try to make sure you stay on the same schedule as you do at home. I find that makes it much easier.
Photos Courtesy of MGM Resorts International and Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational