NBAipedia is a multicultural, Web-based, free-content encyclopedia project specifically about the 2007-08 NBA season. NBAipedia's entries provide information to guide the reader to related incidents that will impact the upcoming season. Much like Wikipedia, some of the information on NBAipedia may be 100 percent inaccurate. But that should never devalue its purpose. Make changes where necessary, add info as needed ... it's just the NBA.
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images
Will there be a bidding war for Gilbert Arenas after this season?
Jason Arasheben (aka "Jason of Beverly Hills," personal jeweler) is responsible for many neckpieces throughout the NBA, with a client base that includes LeBron, Kobe, D-Wade, Melo, Boozer and T-Mac, plus he hooked up the wedding ring given to Brandy by Quentin Richardson. Has replaced Chris Aire as the go-to-guy for ice in the NBA. Rumor has it he's about to join forces with world-famous designer Marc Ecko to build an urban empire, a bling dynasty. The NBA will be their oyster.
Atlantic Division (formerly the best division in the NBA, circa 1980s) was the most depressing five-team collection in all of sports last year. Helen Keller, if given sight, wouldn't have wanted to watch these teams play. Can only go up, 'cause it can't go any lower. Will have two teams make the playoffs this season, the Celtics and (maybe) the Knicks. If that happens, it could save the division, and stop the commissioner from contemplating a 25-team league.
Charles Barkley (aka "The Round Mound of Sound," "The Greatest Thing Since Hominy Grits") is an analyst for TNT's "Inside The NBA." Responsible for the "magic" that all other sports-related programmers are trying to capture. An outspoken, educated black man who is feared, but no one's afraid of. Creator of "Gin-O-Blee!!!" and calling Sam Cassell "Gollum." Former Republican. Possible Barack Obama running mate. A breath of fresh air. Value went up after viewers saw TNT/TBS's attempt at covering Major League Baseball during the recent playoffs; the nation (including scores of critics) realized there is no living athlete who can do what he does once the cameras are on. He will single-handedly dictate how the public responds to the NBA this season. If he believes, we will too.
Beijing (capital city of China, formerly known as Peking, host of the 2008 Summer Olympics) will be the basketball capital of the world come August. The playground for Dream Team III. This season, players will battle for at least five open spots on Team USA's roster for next summer's competition. The chosen few will attempt to get the desperately-coveted gold medal (and worldwide respect) back. Parts of the 2007-08 NBA season will be looked upon as tryouts to complete Coach K's roster. The U.S. winning the gold in Beijing will be more important than any team winning this year's NBA championship.
Bernstein and Butler (Andrew and Nat, respectively) are NBA senior official photographers, the Walter Iooss and Annie Leibovitz of the league. As important to the presentation of the players as Martha Stewart is to the future success of Macy's. This year their images will tell the story of a league in the midst of saving itself. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; this year Bernstein and Butler's photos will have to be worth millions.
Blogs (a portmanteau of "Web" and "log," or unsolicited commentaries posted on the Internet as expert opinion) were born in or around 1983, and have become more important to public perception than mainstream media columns. Bloggers have had a great impact on the shifting or directing of the base of public reality. According to Technorati (a blog search engine), there are approximately 106 million blogs in existence. Of those 106 million, it's been estimated that more than 100,000 deal specifically with American sports. And the sport the blogs and bloggers hate the most: basketball. The league they will give the least benefit of the doubt to: the NBA. This year the NBA can give bloggers no more reasons to hate than they already have. The power of the blog can kill the league.
Boobie (aka Daniel Gibson) is the nickname given to Cleveland Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson as a child. A rally cry. The new "Chief" or "Coop." A term of endearment (and hope) chanted by Cavs fans throughout the 2007 Eastern Conference finals. One that might not be heard as much during the '07-'08 season. Unless Gibson -- who must continue to play like the Atkins Diet version of Vinnie Johnson for Cleveland to win -- continues to thrive and improve, it will be a word that will take on an entirely different meaning by the end of the season.
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images
Will Jerry Buss pull the trigger on a Kobe deal? We'll see.
Mark Cuban (billionaire, Dallas Mavericks owner, dancer, film producer, best friend of commissioner David Stern) has been waiting for this season to start more than anyone else in the NBA. The 2007-08 season will be his "I Told You So" season. He will quietly (who said Cuban didn't have class) ride the Tim Donaghy situation until the rims fall off. His theories and comments of the past now seem slightly justified, and his criticisms have to be seriously listened to this season. Now, what he's going to do about Dirk Nowitzki's reputation, Avery Johnson's coaching style and that first-round loss to the Warriors, no one knows.
Luol Deng (born in Sudan, raised in London, refugee, activist, five-tool forward for the Chicago Bulls) continues to speak on behalf of many organizations -- including Save Darfur and Instant Karma, trying to raise awareness of the despair in his homeland of Darfur. He's trying to save lives by playing basketball, this season more than ever. Along with teammate Ben Gordon, Deng has not agreed to a contract extension yet, while other players who were drafted alongside them have gotten extensions. Rumored to be part of a trade for Kobe. Will play in his first All-Star Game in February.
Divorce lawyer/Defense attorney (see Shaquille O'Neal)
D-League (see Atlantic Division)
Tim Donaghy (1967 -2007) was a respected referee, a mob informant, a gambler, and is now Public Enemy No. 21. Or, as commissioner Stern likes to eloquently refer to him as, "a determined person." Still alive, but his NBA death resonated throughout the sports world this summer with the unveiling of his involvement with a gambling operation and the potential altering of games he actually refereed. His presence will dominate this upcoming NBA season, if not beyond. His name will be the punch line in jokes and the reason some people get punched out in arguments. His name is one that the commissioner hopes and prays doesn't come out of the mouth of any player this season when they question the action or motives of a ref in front of the media.
EA Sports (video game empire, est. in 1993 in Canada, world-famous motto of "It's in the game," creators of "Madden" -- sports' version of crack) has a cover-boy jinx. But the jinx only exists with "Madden," not with "NBA Live." Yes, T-Mac didn't get out of the first round in '07, but D-Wade blessed the cover of "NBA Live" in '06 and look what happened to him. He won a ring. Melo in '05, VC in '04, J-Kidd in '03 ... OK, it's understood why a jinx theory could have developed. But Gilbert Arenas is on the cover of the latest "NBA Live," and that will have no effect on what happens to him during this season. I think.
Gambling (the 800-pound elephant in the Board of Governors meetings) is the illegal activity that now haunts the NBA like the Nosferatu did the humans in "30 Days Of Night." And now that the NBA has animatedly refuted a report that implicated six other refs who were to be disciplined for issues involving gambling, the impact of Lawrence Pedowitz's "non-findings" in his investigation will be undeniable and unavoidable. It's going to be hard for the public to believe that only one referee has a "punishable" issue with gambling.
Pau Gasol (center on the Memphis Grizzlies; born in Spain, member of Spain's national team; forgotten superstar; the first name mentioned in any trade rumor the past two years; NBA Rookie of the Year in 2002; franchise player) for the first time in a long time has a decent squad to play with. The addition of rookie Mike Conley Jr. at the point, and the extra confidence Mike Miller should have from playing on Team USA this summer, should benefit Gasol tremendously. With his season-from-hell (2006-07) behind him, he should re-establish himself as one of the players teams hate to face, the Euro Tracy McGrady. With Jerry West retiring, Gasol is now the face of the franchise. The question is not whether he can play ball, but whether he can carry a team.
GAZO (name, subject, cartoon character) is the alter ego of Gilbert Arenas. Part Stewie ("Family Guy"), part Huey ("Boondocks"). Proves that Arenas is either brilliant or insane.
Jaquet Droz (watchmaker): Origin La Chaux-de-Fonds (Switzerland). Their signature Spit Dial Tourbillon will be the armpiece of choice for players who want to distinguish themselves from the Rolex crowd. And with the ability to personally design the top half of the face of the watch (the skeleton design is the most popular), for a low cost (beginning at just under $120,000), who needs Jacob the Jeweler?
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kim Kardashian's profile is about to get a lot larger.
The LeBrons (born to Widen and Kennedy; the best ongoing commercial series in sports) were shot last month and are rumored to be the best yet. That's a lie. Last year's episodes of "The LeBrons" were the last. Staying true to its historic creed to never run marketing campaigns in the ground before the public gets tired of them (there were a total of just nine Mike and Spike spots), Nike deadened the most ingenious basketball campaign they've had since "The Fun Police." Instead they are going with the "You Want To Be Better Than Me" tagline and campaign to sell their top athlete not named Tiger Woods. Basketball's favorite family will no longer exist on television. Wise LeBron just became a martyr.
Mansion (theclub on South Beach; runners-up: Opium Gardens, Cameo, and Space [after hours only]) will be the club of choice when teams come to play the Heat. When squads leave Miami with an L this year, you can probably blame the Opium Group (owners of two of the three clubs mentioned -- and their third spot, Prive, could also have been included) for opening this must-experience experience.
Kenyon Lee Martin (reborn in 2008 in Denver?), is the last true power forward in the NBA. First pick in the 2000 draft (the last American-born college senior to be selected No. 1). One of the 25 best dunkers in NBA history. The most important player in the league this year. If he stays injury-free, drama-free and gets along with George Karl, the Nuggets will be the most feared team in the West -- and the team that will win the NBA championship.
Matrix (aka Shawn Marion; the 12th-highest-paid player in the league; one of the 10 most complete players in the league) is the player who is almost as important to the success of the Phoenix Suns as Steve Nash. Marion is the businessman inside the Matrix that has become a disgruntled part of the system. Apparently not happy with the addition of Grant Hill, the emergence of Leandro Barbosa, and his reduced role in Mike D'Antoni's offense, Matrix will take it upon himself to play this season as if it were his last. He will make his fifth All-Star team, lead the league in rebounding, make the All-NBA first-team on defense, and lead the Suns to the NBA Finals. Then he'll demand -- not request -- to leave. All of this will come true unless new GM Steve Kerr can create some magic before the trade deadline in February.
Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images
Imagine rolling in one of these.
Maybach 57S (whip) is a product from Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH -- and the automobile most in demand by NBA players on their second or third contracts. Even though the new Aston Martin Riptide is the whip that a few will purchase (max-level players only), the Maybach is still the one most players will chase.
O.J. Mayo (legend est. 2004) is the USC freshman guard who will be the most-watched college player by NBA execs this year. Will be the most-anticipated freshman coming out of college since Carmelo Anthony -- possibly more than Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. The Next LeBron. The Next D-Wade. The Next Kobe. Pay attention to the Bobcats, Sixers, Timberwolves, Kings, Hawks, Hornets and especially the Clippers (only because of the L.A. connection) to see if (more likely when) they start losing games to get a shot at getting Mayo first in next year's draft. A recent report from an ESPN college basketball analyst out of Southern Cal: "Nick Young better be glad he left school early, because this kid Mayo would have ruined his NBA future. He's that good."
Microfracture surgery (the new ACL terror) is an orthopedic procedure to repair a knee injury that will ruin some player's and some team's entire 2007-08 season. See Greg Oden and the Portland Trail Blazers. But he/they won't be alone. It's almost guaranteed that someone else will undergo this surgery prior to the All-Star break. Developed by Dr. Richard Steadman in Vail, Colo., the microfracture surgery can do more damage to a team than Ron Artest. This season will be no different than the past 10 seasons. Sadly, someone is going to be the next Jamal Mashburn.
Steve Nash (from Canada via South Africa; president of the Steve Nash Foundation; the definition of selflessness) is the double MVP havin', Raymond Weil watch wearin', Iraq war opposin', Men's Journal cover posin', "Speed Kills" advertisin', speed kills possessin', best player in the game point god on the Phoenix Suns. (Should be) the league's hungriest player this season. Needs to get to the Finals this year more than any other player in the league. If he gets there (regardless of whether he wins), only Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson will be considered greater than he is at the point. Will win a third MVP, unless there's a Men's Journal cover jinx.
Shaquille O'Neal II (born Nov. 1, 2008) is the new Shaq everyone has been waiting for the past five years. His recent filing for divorce -- and the incidents that led to that filing -- has made Shaquille unhappy, and he's going to take it out on people on the court while he's in court. As bad as the personal disruption in his life might be, it will allow him to use basketball as a getaway, a release, a solace, and take the pressure off him being the dalai lama of professional sports. For years the old Shaq has tried to be the nicest, most serene guy on the planet. This year he needs to take a break: break a few backboards, break a few records, break Yao, and let the basketball world know that 35 is the new 30. The Sporting News already rated him as the 20th best center(!) in their fantasy league. If that isn't enough to rile up the old Shaq and give him a reason for a rebirth, nothing will be.
New Orleans (city that is the heartbeat of the South; home of the French Quarter, "K-Ville," Lil' Wayne, the Neptune Monsoon at Port O' Call, women of Xavier University and the Lower 9th Ward; victim of Katrina; host of the 2008 NBA All-Star Game) has the responsibility this year of changing (or trying to change) everything that went wrong in Las Vegas during last season's All-Star weekend. If not, it will be another PR nightmare for the NBA. The game will be played on the Sunday before Fat Tuesday, the anchor day of Mardi Gras. Much like last season, when tens of thousands of people remained in Las Vegas for the All-Star Game after coming to the city to attend the Magic Convention (the largest urban apparel convention in the world), there will be a small city's worth of visitors who will already be in N'awlins for the Zulu Parade and will "decide" to be a part of the All-Star activities. There is a good chance the topic of race will once again be under national discussion in America. David Stern will decide behind closed doors that he's had enough, and that "it will be a Denver day in hell" before another "urban" city hosts the All-Star Game -- and he will name Salt Lake City as the permanent host of all future All-Star Games until further notice.
Noelia Warnette-Jones (dancer for the Memphis Grizzlies dance team) is the "can't miss" cheerleader for anyone covering or following the NBA. She possesses the NY/Neo-Rican heritage, attitude, style and sexiness that is not seen very often on NBA dance troupes. A former professor in the dance department at the University of Memphis, Noelia performed off-Broadway while living in New York City and was a stand-in for Jada Pinkett-Smith in Spike Lee's "Bamboozled." This year with the Grizzlies she should blossom to All-Star-invite status under the tutelage of new director Tamara Moore. Soon, if she lives up to her potential (which many think she will), she's going to be as vital to Memphis visits as Graceland and barbershops that still tell stories of Keith Lee. A season-ticket holder said of Noelia (and another dancer) last year, "I think Al Green wrote a song about them." So when the Grizzlies are down by 20 in the fourth quarter, just look for her during timeouts, then watch how many players won't be paying attention to their coaches.
Ronnie Nunn (born in Brooklyn, N.Y.) is the director of officials. He (along with Paul Brazeau and Joe Borgia) has the thankless job of trying to right the wrong that one referee has inadvertently placed on almost 70 other refs over a combined 2,460 games. And that's just the regular season. When the playoffs begin, the microscope will become a telescope on Nunn. With every call that's questioned, all eyes will turn to him and Stu Jackson to make it right. And even when they're right, many will see them as wrong. He was a ref for 19 seasons before taking his current position in 2004, but this will be the one year that determines his future. Hopefully 2007-08 will not be his last.
Rob Pelinka (lawyer) is Kobe Bryant's rep. God bless him.
Lawrence Pedowitz (former federal prosecutor and partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz specializing in corporate litigation, regulatory and white-collar criminal matters) was the person tapped to conduct the internal review of the NBA's officiating program. In that report he found that "about half" of the 59 refs who cover NBA games had violated the league's anti-gambling rules. And because David Stern chose not to discipline any of the refs, Pedowitz's report holds less merit than it should. His findings were supposed to be the NBA's Mitchell Report; instead it will be the its 911 Commission.
Phoenix Suns (the New England Patriots of the NBA, the only thing missing is the rings) will be in the NBA Finals. They have a chance to win 70 games. Nash-to-Stoudemire was in vogue before Brady-to-Moss. There are no refs or microfracture surgeries or contract disputes or unsolved conspiracy theories left to interfere with this team. But patience and understanding is running thin in the city, and apparently in the team's inner circle. If they don't make the Finals this year, expect an implosion. Team owner Robert Sarver, chairman Jerry Colangelo and Nash will be the only ones left standing, saying, "What the (fill in the blank) happened?" What happened will be the most discussed subject in the offseason, win or lose.
Punitive damages (aka $11.6M) are what James Dolan, Isiah Thomas and Rainbow Media Holdings (Cablevision) must pay out to Anucha Browne Sanders for the loss they took in court this summer on charges of "hostile and abusive" behavior and "harassing and unwelcome" conduct. And although Thomas was not found liable for punitive damages, the damage has already been done to him and the Knicks organization. The only thing that can save them is a .500 season and a trip to the playoffs. Stephon Marbury said he found Jesus over the summer -- that's a start, but he is hardly the only one in that organization who needs Jesus in his life.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
The point guard with the most pressure on him this season.
Texas (the state that occupies damn-near the entire Southwest region of the United States, the state with the city that is best-kept secret in the country [Austin], the state that has the best basketball on the planet) is about to have the best NBA/interstate battle it's ever had. All three Texas teams -- the Spurs, Rockets and Mavericks -- have something to prove. Houston has to prove what happened to the Rockets last year was a fluke, Dallas has to prove what happened to the Mavs last year was really a fluke, and San Antonio has to prove that what happened to the Spurs last year wasn't a fluke. In order to win an NBA ring, a team will have to go through this state. The difficulty is great -- like beating both Williams sisters in the same tennis tournament, or having to win 15 of your final 16 games just to make it into the postseason.
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
Reggie Theus will probably win the award for best-dressed coach in the league.
Tiffany (world-class, high-end jeweler): Look for those little blue boxes to be popping up outside of locker rooms around Christmas, in hotels on Valentine's Day, and thrown back at players in arena parking lots before the playoffs.
TNT (network that produces "Inside The NBA"; will air 52 NBA games from Nov. 1 to April 10, and at least another 40 during their "40 Games in 40 Nights" playoff run) is all about Ernie, Charles and Kenny. Must-see TV.
Trade deadline (self-explanatory) is Feb. 21, 2008, at 3 p.m. ET. No excuses.
Undrcrwn (apparel company) is a basketball lifestyle brand founded by Dustin Canalin in 2005. A luxury sports-apparel staple in the 'hood that is about to find its niche in the NBA. Players will be seen wearing the Layup off-court often. Already attached to adidas (will co-release the Gilbert Arenas limited-edition GilIIZero on April 4, 2008 -- the David Stern dress-code friendly shoe might give the white/white AF1 a run for status supreme).
Unrestricted free agent (see Arenas, Gilbert)
Walk-DGP (NBA champs) The redux of Run-TMC for the iBall generation. Duncan-Ginobili-Parker do what Timmy-Mitch-Chris did back in the day, only sadistically slower and beautifully better.
Marquise Walker (prodigy, born between 1999-2000 on the west side of Chicago) is the star of "You Can't Shine Like Me," a highlight reel posted on YouTube that has caught fire. Hot Sauce skills, Bone Collector tricks. Last year he was rated the nation's top 6-year-old. He just entered second grade. Has performed at NBA games during timeout breaks, and has been seen with the likes of LeBron and Ben Gordon. Considered to have an extremely "high" basketball IQ. NBA scouts already know who he is. And the fact that he's being mentioned in this piece is a problem.
XX3 (the greatest shoe release of all time) is the number that Michael Jordan will always be remembered by -- everything of great significance that happened in his basketball life happened with him wearing that number, it's as dear to him as one of his kids. This year is the 23rd year of his shoe. Official drop date: top secret.
Yoga (Sanskrit for "unite or integrate;" ancient Indian practice of body and mind that dates back over 5,000 years; the integration of mind, body and spirit to one's surroundings; better than Pilates) according to Herman Riley III -- PR assistant for the Houston Rockets' Mike James -- James' emergence as an "almost, soon-to-be, aight I'm about to blow up" star in the league is due to his practicing of this Hindu meditation and physical stretching. "Mike credits his success in basketball to his practice of yoga," Riley III said. "Yoga is a very important part of his back-strengthening routine." This may become the new trend in the NBA if James helps get the Rockets past the first round. And remember, that's Mike James, people. Get it right. Not Mike Jones.
Zo (Alonzo Mourning; center; seven-time NBA All-Star; kidney transplant survivor; future Hall-of-Famer; father; husband; NBA champion; ambassador to the consciousness of the black male athlete; author of the not-yet published book, "Come On, People 2" with Dr. Cornel West; in 10 years a serious potential candidate for NBA commissioner) will play his last year in the NBA. The league won't be the same without him.
Scoop Jackson is a columnist for Page 2 and a contributor to ESPN The Magazine. Sound off to Scoop here.
DAILY DIME 2007-08 PREVIEW EDITION
Welcome back, NBA fans! Check out our 30 team previews, 300 forecasts and new Daily Dime.
Atlantic Division• Boston Celtics
• New Jersey Nets
• New York Knicks
• Philadelphia 76ers
• Toronto Raptors
Central Division• Chicago Bulls
• Cleveland Cavaliers
• Detroit Pistons
• Indiana Pacers
• Milwaukee Bucks
Southeast Division• Atlanta Hawks
• Charlotte Bobcats
• Miami Heat
• Orlando Magic
• Washington Wizards
Southwest Division• Dallas Mavericks
• Houston Rockets
• Memphis Grizzlies
• New Orleans Hornets
• San Antonio Spurs
Northwest Division• Denver Nuggets
• Minnesota Timberwolves
• Portland Trail Blazers
• Seattle SuperSonics
• Utah Jazz
Pacific Division• Golden State Warriors
• Los Angeles Clippers
• Los Angeles Lakers
• Phoenix Suns
• Sacramento Kings