Basketball's Seasonal Disorder
Prognostications For The NBA's Next Few Months.
By Tom Danehy
FEBRUARY 8, 1999:
THE NBA SEASON begins just four months late, but who cares about delays when we finally get to see the lovable misfits engage in their madcap antics? Oops, sorry. I
got the NBA mixed up with those M*A*S*H reruns they're
showing on FX cable network.
This is going to be an interesting season for the NBA, although
neither I nor anyone else I know will actually tune in to watch
any games until about a week after the college basketball season
is over. Michael Jordan is gone, the Bulls are scattered all over
the league, training camp was way too short and free agents hopped
around like a barefoot worker at a thumbtack factory.
The only reason the season is going at all is that the players
realized that, during the long strike, the fans weren't angry;
they were engaging in a collective shrug of "So what?"
Now the league is back without its biggest star, with a shortened
season, an inferior product, and a killer schedule which calls
for teams to play three or four games per week into May. This
should be fun.
But since you're not going to be keeping an eye on the league
for the next few months (if ever), I'll give you some dates to
be on the lookout for.
FEBRUARY 5 - NBA season tips off. Enterprising people at ESPN
show on their "Did You Know" segment that back in the
1970s, the playoffs used to end around Easter. This year they
won't start until Mother's Day.
FEBRUARY 7 - Sal Viscuzzo, a disgruntled fan from Bayonne, New
Jersey, tries to organize a national boycott to teach the NBA
a lesson that it can't mistreat its fans. He wants to base it
on the baseball boycott which was so successful until Sorta Commissioner
Bud Selig decided to juice the baseballs and allow the unlimited
use of quasi-steroid-like substances to get the fans back in the
He's an engaging fellow, so he gets a little bit of airplay.
But after an appearance on The Fabulous Sports Babe Show,
he suddenly drops his campaign.
A couple weeks later, he's seen driving around with Keith Van
Horn. It's later learned that Viscuzzo has suddenly come into
possession of his own luxury box. At a Nets-Knicks game, he can
be seen in the box, frolicking with either two NBA cheerleaders
or two hookers. It's hard to tell them apart from a distance.
Or up close, for that matter.
FEBRUARY 8 - Kenny Anderson plays his second game of the season,
allowing him to make his $75,000 annual car insurance payment,
meaning that he won't have to keep driving that same SUV every
day. The world breathes a sigh of relief.
FEBRUARY 14 - An unnamed New York Knicks player tells a reporter,
"Man, this schedule sucks! D'you know we had to play three
games this past week?! How the hell am I supposed to find time
to go out and find underage girls to molest?"
FEBRUARY 15 - NBA Players Association head Billy Hunter announces
that "allowing players the fundamental right to find time
to molest underage girls" will be a fundamental issue next
time the Collective Bargaining Agreement comes up.
FEBRUARY 22 - The Chicago Bulls finally win their first game
of the season. The next day, the Sun-Times headline blares,
"MICHAEL WHO?" Four million Chicagoans read the
headline and shout, "Michael Jordan, you *#@!*^%#
FEBRUARY 28 - It's discovered that the Toronto Raptors are being
led in scoring by a guy whose name no one knows how to pronounce,
who comes from a country which didn't exist when the Raptors came
into the league four years ago.
But the really bad part is that the front office realizes he's
not officially part of the team. He was kind of a walk-on during
training camp and no one ever thought of asking him basic questions.
All they knew was that, with Damon Stoudamire gone, they needed
someone to keep the Raptors from being shut out.
They sign him to a long-term, league-minimum contract before
he's able to learn how to say in English, "I want an agent."
MARCH 15 - NBA Commissioner David Stern's plan is working to
perfection. At the halfway point, 14 of the league's 29 teams
are at 12-11, while 14 others are at 12-12.
The Bulls are at 4-18.
MARCH 28 - The Lakers' 20-year-old phenom-wannabe Kobe Bryant
grumbles about the Collective Bargaining Agreement, threatening
to challenge it in court.
He then publicly states that he wants to be paid in accordance
to what he means to the team's success.
In response, the Lakers slash his contract by two-thirds.
APRIL 4 - The Easter Sunday NBA double-header is beaten in the
Nielsen ratings by the eighth showing in the past two years of
Riverdance on PBS.
MAY 4 - Playoffs begin. Fans start trickling back, realizing
it's that or baseball.
JUNE 6 - Conference finals underway. In the East, it's Indiana
vs. New York, sponsored by the upcoming pay-per-view fight between
Mike Tyson and Vladimir "The Bleeder" Ulyanov. In the
West, it's Utah vs. Houston, brought to you by AARP.
I won't tell you what happens after that. Have to save some surprises.
Plus, I'm hoping to get bought off like the aforementioned Sal.
Just gimme the luxury box; hold the cheerleaders. Lord knows I
don't want to.