No, not for the World Series. Nope, not for the second half of the NFL season. Hockey? *muffles laughter* sorry, try again. No, the PBA tour doesn’t count.
I meant: are you ready for the start of the NBA season?!?
That’s right. On Nov. 1 the NBA will officially tip off the 2005-2006 season. It would be easy to overlook the start of the NBA with football heating up and baseball deciding its champion. But in doing so, you as a sports fan would be making terrible mistake. The story-lines are infinite, the characters soap opera-esque, and the games are actually completed in under 3 hours! (Are you listening Bug Selig? Is this thing on?)
Football can wait until the playoffs, baseball will be back next year, hockey-well you see the NHL – after the lockout, the games are going to be more excit- – I can’t lie to my readers. I can’t endorse the NHL. But that does remind me of a recently emerging trend.
Anyone else noticing that baseball players have now adopted the “playoff beard” from the NHL? Reggie Sanders was quoted as saying he wasn’t shaving until the Cardinals won the World Series. Well they got shutdown by Roy Oswalt and the Astros; so does that mean Reggie won’t be shaving until at least this time next year when St. Louis gets another chance at the championship? If so he may take Ricky Williams’ title (who took it from Johnny “looks like a bum who would buy booze with the money you gave him” Damon) of most infamous beard in sports. This would undoubtedly clinch his spot in Cooperstown.
But getting back to my initial outrage, the NHL misses one season and all of a sudden it is free game to start stealing traditions? Is nothing sacred in sports? What’s next? NBA players having fist fights on the court rather than the ice while fans cheer? Oh wait; there was that one night in Detroit-.
This brings us to the man everyone should be watching: Ron Artest. Is there a more fascinating and terrifying player in the NBA? What can he do for an encore this year that could possibly overshadow his antics last season? He went into the stands and started punching people. He went psycho: P-S-Y-C-H-O. Not only that, but his partner in crime that night, Stephan Jackson (who could possibly be even more of a loose cannon than Artest) is still on the team! The Pacers General Manager, Donnie Walsh, should be fired for not managing to trade at least one of them this off-season. If they spontaneously combust again this year, he should be tried in court for gross negligence. What does all this mean to you? It means you better TiVo every Pacers game. Also, if you happen to have good seats at a game with Artest present, make sure to wear full riot gear while making mock beverage tosses in his general direction for the best fan experience.
Besides the potential for Artest to be a WWF wrestler (note: I’ll call it the WWF till the day I die, I don’t care if the organization with the panda has a logo had it first. Besides, I don’t even like pandas. The meat is stringy and gets stuck in my teeth) there is the Miami Heat. This year they are arguably the most compelling team in the NBA, with off-season trades bringing in the likes of Jason Williams, Antoine Walker, and Gary Payton. I’m not going to dwell on Jason “White Chocolate” Williams or the fact that Gary Payton couldn’t guard me at this point in his career (his rights to the nickname “Glove” are hereby revoked and replaced with “Mitten”). It is “Toine” that has the potential to take a team one-year removed from the eastern conference finals to a sub .500 team. If I had a nickel for every time Antoine Walker shot a 3 in his career, I’d have $168.32 (that’s 3,336 nickels for those of you who lack a calculator- or almost 5 a game). In fact, at that rate, I have to assume that somewhere in Walker’s contract is a stipulation that he receives bonuses for every 3-pointer attempted. That bonus needs to be removed and replaced with a tax for every one missed if the Heat plan on keeping his acid-reflux like tendency to hoist up arcs in check. I personally cannot wait until the Heat lose in the closing seconds after Antoine Walker takes the final shot that was intended for Dwayne Wade or Shaq. Can’t you see Shaq quietly fuming as he calmly strolls off the court behind Antoine – then immediately hoisting him up with one hand, tying him to a chair in the locker-room, and forcing him to watch Kazaam on a loop?
With the Heat completely disregarding the concept of team chemistry and bringing in players to take the ball out of the hands of their most explosive player, Dwayne Wade, the stage is set for a 10-20 start. Followed by Pat Riley inevitably taking over the team and leaving Stan Van Gundy to wonder if his brother needs a new assistant in Houston.
Speaking of Houston, they definitely have a problem. In the time it takes to see Brad Lidge blow another save, you could watch the continuing emergence of Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz. Or you could watch as Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson try to pretend like they are still friends after Phil quit, wrote a book stating, “I won’t coach this team next year if he is still here-He won't listen to anyone. I've had it with this kid,” and then came back to coach the Lakers for $10 million a year.
You have to feel for Brad Lidge at this point-but what do you think the odds are that this next pitch ends up in the bleachers?
I could go on forever (the new dress code in the NBA deserves its own column, but it suffices to say that you won’t be seeing Allen Iverson wearing bling equal to his own body weight anymore). Just tune in Nov. 1 and enjoy. And don’t forget the real reason to follow the NBA: to gear up for the WNBA season! (Just seeing if you were still paying attention).
Bradford Applin is a sophomore majoring in aerospace engineering. He actually loves pandas, and wants to point out that none were harmed in the making of this column. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments on this article or observations on sports in general.