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Tucson Weekly 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 seats.

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 *#@!*^%# idiots!"


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.


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