Over the course of 13 years, Kenny Anderson still hasn’t quite lived down his “the more you make, the more you spend,” comment made during the midst of the 1998 NBA work stoppage. With the 2011 lockout becoming increasingly contentious, the Los Angeles Times’ Deborah Vankin and Matt Donnelly helpfully cite the Thunder’s James Harden as an unfortunate example of what nightclubs call “whales”, ie. “an elite class of partiers that pays from $20,000 to $100,000 a night to satisfy their every whim.”

The second-string guard for Oklahoma City (abovee) was partying at Roxbury, celebrating his 22nd birthday with several hundred of his closest friends.

Jammed into a circular corner booth with roughly 40 others, Harden took swigs from a bottle of Patron as hip-hop music blasted and leggy ladies in short dresses filled the dance floor. The $13,000 moment came when a parade of runway-ready “bottle servers” sashayed toward his table carrying his order of 22 bottles of Moët & Chandon.

The economy may be troubled, but decadence is still in style.

Big spenders like Harden spring for bottle service — the VIP way to party. A cryptic and lucrative micro-economy within the L.A. club scene, bottle service has propped up L.A.’s night spots during the hard times. Club goers routinely pay $500, $3,000, up to $10,000 to avoid waiting in line and to get a private server, a choice of liquor and a premier table.

Of course, it’s all too easy to ridicule how Harden chooses to spend his money. Such garish displays of wealth are no more or less wasteful than James Dolan paying his long-suffering band to help him open for the Eagles at Giants Stadium.