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NBA - The Memoirs of NBA Opening Night

By Danny Sternfield
Thursday, October 30th, 2003
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It's been so long. As Frank the Tank said in "Old School," "It feels so good when it hits your lips." After a tumultuous offseason, the NBA is back. It's Opening Night. Spurs vs. Suns. Lakers vs. Mavericks. Shaq vs. Kobe.

Oh, I almost forgot -- the Heat play the 76ers (as if anyone cares).

Having looked forward to this day for some time, I settle in for a long night of hoops. To get myself ready, I read what Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune has to say about the NBA. One of the best and most respected NBA writers in the business, Smith tells us that the Bulls are projected to finish anywhere from third to 12th in the East. A die-hard Bulls fan, I begin pondering the Bulls rolling into the playoffs as a top-four seed and with homecourt-advantage in the first-round.

I'm brought back to reality as Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, and Ernie Johnson welcome me to the season.

The Kobe/Shaq feud, or "Star Wars" as they're calling it in L.A., dominates the pre-game conversation. Kenny says that the issues the two stars are having should be kept in the locker room. Charles reminds us all why he's the engine that makes that show go when he tells a story of how him and Kevin Johnson never really were that close. According to the Chuckster, they'd play together and then K.J. would head to church while Barkley would go to the strip clubs. Gotta love Charles.

Magic does what he does best: smiles, laughs, and keeps relatively quiet.

An interview with LeBron James proves James has been attending all of his media classes. "I'm just trying to go out there and give 110% every night," says James. "I just need to get my teammates better every night."

All of the recent jabs thrown by Kobe and Shaq are plastered on the screen. Kobe delivered a staggering blow to the big man when he said, "I don't miss 15 games because of a toe injury that everybody knows wasn't that serious in the first-place."

Discussion turns to all the movement made during the off-season, specifically in the West. Just when you think the West couldn't get any better, it did. Lost in the shuffle of Latrell Sprewell, Sam Cassell, and a freshly-signed K.G. is the acquisition of the Kandi Man, Michael Olowokandi. I start to think that the T-Wolves might make the jump out of the first-round this season. Then I remember that they could very well open the playoffs against the Kings. Maybe it's the curse of the Flip (Saunders).

Here comes a treat: Latin pop-singer Thalia is going to perform before the Spurs/Suns game. Since "Playmakers" hasn't started yet, I sit through it and realize that I've just spent four minutes of my life that I'll never get back. She's an attractive woman with a decent enough voice, and is wearing a sexy Spurs top that's laced up in the front, but I can't stop thinking about Mariah Carey and her full-length Wizards dress.

Each Spur is announced and receives a championship ring. I'm amazed that Kevin Willis is back in the league for one more year -- and David Robinson is not. While they're not as much of a one-hit wonder as the Anaheim Angels were or the Florida Marlins will be, you get the feeling that San Antonio had everything going for them last year -- Robinson's last year, an MVP season by Duncan, Robert Horry misses a game-winning shot -- and that it's not going to happen for them this year.

The Suns look promising as they jump out to an early lead. Stephon Marbury comes out blazing and has a quick 12 points. He gives you a glimpse of how truly talented he is. As the clock winds down and with the Suns down one, Marbury gives you another glimpse -- this time of how selfish he can be and why no team he's been on has ever won. After missing two ill-advised shots in the final seconds, the Suns lose.

The Spurs are officially the league's least-impressive 1-0 team.

A quick click over to "Playmakers" lets me see Thad Guerwitcz make television history. In some of the most compelling acting the show has seen to date, Daniel Petronijevic accepts the team's only all-star spot and comes out of the closet all in the same scene.

The Lakers/Mavs game sort of lives up to the hype. The Lakers dominate the game and win easily -- however, we see Gary Payton wheel, deal, spin, and score. Both he and Karl Malone flirt with a triple-double.

Kobe comes out to moderate applause and plants himself right next to Shaq on the bench. Interesting? Yes. Sincere? Maybe.

It occurs to me that I haven't even checked who won the Heat/Sixers game. Then it occurs to me that I don't really care.

Sixers win easily. I fall asleep thinking about Marv Albert saying "Zarko Cabarkapa for three."

I love this game -- and it's only Opening Night. Now if I could just get to Japan to see the Sonics/Clippers game.

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