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Thursday, October 26, 2006
Updated: November 1, 12:15 AM ET
The Superficial NBA preview

By Scoop Jackson
Page 2

Most NBA preseason columns go deep into the insight of what's going to happen over the next nine months, who's going to do what, who's going to rise, fall off, and which team is going to come out in June with the chip. (No one does a better preseason preamble than Bill Simmons). But inside every 82-game season and 16-win postseason there are drama-filled, meaningless and superficial episodes and incidents that really have nothing to do with the end result but everything to do with why we love the game. These are those things, this is that column.


The Myth: Shaq has more $$ than every/any other player in the League.

The Drama: Mark Cuban will be watching the refs like Madonna watches African babies.

Dwyane Wade
Can Wade, who averaged 27.2 points per game last season, lead Miami to back-to-back titles?

The Hell: Zeke's life in NYC.

The Heat: Will not have a better record during the regular season than the Cavs.

The Re-Heat: As long as D-Wade stays hungry and feels disrespected it'd be stupid to not expect a double-up.

The Rumor I: LeBron signed to do "Space Jam 2."

The Rumor II: Carmelo will appear in "Stop Snitchin' 2."

The Rumor III: Someone in the League is the daddy of Deelishis' (Flav's new lady, winner of "Flavor of Love" season 2) baby?

The Gone: Rip's braids.

The Campaign: "Where's Spree?"

The What: PHX has the best frontline in the L with Amare, Kurt Thomas and Boris Diaw.

The What?: Yao Ming, first-team all-NBA? (Sports Illustrated, October 23, 2006)

The Whatever: The Utah Jazz.

The Tag: Kobe, aka Jack Bauer. Get it?

The Pay Attention I: To how fast Steve Nash's hair grows back.

The Pay Attention II: To how soon Dirk cuts his.

Steve Nash
Whether it's style of play or hair, Nash is a trend setter.

The Pay Attention III: Adam Morrison's mustache.

The Good: Gilbert Arenas will lead the league in free-throw percentage and free-throw attempts.

The Bad: The Timberwolves are still going to miss Fred Hoiberg almost as much as they do Sam Cassell.

The Ugly: When an airline magazine says you are the worst team in the East ("The worst team in the East has the highest payroll in the league ...") you know it's bad. Real bad. (American Way, October 15, 2006)

The Real: That Ben Wallace not being in a Pistons uniform to open the season has more to do with Flip Saunders and their relationship than $$ and Joe Dumars.

The Argue of Men: This season finally will decide who's the best player in the game. By the end of June, we'll know. No arguments.

The Alias: Kenny Smith will create a nickname for Ron Artest that Ron-Ron will hate, but the country will embrace. No brawls.

The Red Slip: Boston coach Doc Rivers will be the first coach fired. No questions.

The Lux (tax) Life: Dallas is still paying Michael Finley $20 million to play for San Antonio.

The Fashion: Players will start pulling their socks down and we'll see less headbands.

The Hope: That nothing else goes wrong with the Indiana Pacers ...

The Belief: ... that Darrell Armstrong is going to be the one who saves them, removing the black cloud that has been over the organization the past five years.

The Gift: That Dennis Page, publisher of Slam, will have every rookie prediction right. (He's done it before.)

Joakim Noah
How soon before the Hawks start tanking to have a better shot at Joakim Noah?

The Falloff: Let's see who starts tanking early, often and on purpose to jumpstart the Greg Oden/Joakim Noah lottery.

The Offseason: The World Games and the fact that the U.S. came away with a bronze instead of gold will have an effect on 10 of the 12 players this season. And it will affect Coach K.

The Can't Win: Carmelo will have as good a season, if not better, than LeBron and D-Wade and will have nothing to show for it. But he will make the All-Star team this year. Finally.

The Weekend: The Sophomores will beat the Rookies by 30 on Feb. 16, 2007.

The Beautiful Mistake: More than one player will get arrested and more than one player will get divorced over the All-Star weekend. Vegas might get an NBA team out of this but it will never play host to another All-Star Game. Ever.

The Beautiful One: Dwyane Wade. "When he's playing basketball, he's as beautiful as any human expressing him-or herself physically in any way." (GQ, November, 2006)

The Biggest Gamble: Sac Kings not re-signing Bonzi Wells in hopes that Kevin Martin is the truth.

The New: Coaches getting DUIs.

The Sell: The Atlanta Hawks will be sold before the playoffs. (Note: And Jermaine Dupri or Ludacris will not be part-owners.)

The M.I.A.: Thirst.

The 4: Chauncey, Rip, Tay, Sheed.

The 3: TD, Manu, TP.

The 2: Steve and Amare (sorry Shaq and D-Wade).

Kobe Bryant
Kobe's 35.4 scoring average was the highest in the NBA since Michael Jordan's 37.1 in 1987.

The 1: Kobe.

The Steph I: To get back to Starbury, status Steph needs to get that Milt Wagner haircut back.

The Steph II: The sales of his shoe will be dictated by his play.

The Steph III: He'll come back on "Quite Frankly" and again tell S.A.S., "I'm the best point guard in the NBA."

The Inside: The Denver Nuggets are going to regret letting media director Teri Washington go.

The Honest: adidas will benefit more in sales because of its agreement with the league than Reebok did.

The Ink: Before it's over, Mike Bibby will have more tats than AI.

The Over/Under I: Rasheed will play in The 25's.

The Over/Under II: Gregg Popovich will let his facial hair grow.

The Over/Under III: Iverson will miss more games than T-Mac.

The About Time: The NBA will allow "real" hip hop artists/groups to perform at the NBA Finals.

The Wives: Jermaine O'Neal, KG and Vince will have better seasons now that they have the newlywed year behind them.

The Show and Prove: A battle between Larry Hughes and Tyson Chandler.

The Cheech and Chong: Raja Bell and Taco Bell.

The Return: Grant Hill.

The Retirement: Grant Hill.

The Anticipation: The LeBrons Season II will be better than Season I.

The Answer: Hoopz as a sideline reporter on NBATV.

Walter Herrmann
Look for Charlotte's 6-9 Argentinian import Walter Herrmann to make a contribution.

The Secret: Walter Herrmann (Charlotte). Cat can ball.

The Concept: The new look of Hoop magazine will prove to be one of the league's smartest moves.

The Look: Don Nelson will be fined for breaking the dresscode rules -- even though they don't apply to coaches.

The Remix: The reshuffling of the playoff system will wind up backfiring.

The Fundamentals: The midrange game is back; this season will begin the lost art of 3-point shooting.

The Exec: Bryan Colangelo will get his second Executive Of The Year Award in the last three years.

The Settlement: David Stern is going to arbitrate an agreement that Larry Brown gets $27M from the Knicks and tell him to not appeal and that he can't coach again until the beginning of the 2008 season.

The Art: D-Wade finally will get a visible tattoo.

The Question: Can Stackhouse and Sam I Am have the same seasons they had last year?

The Thought: Steve Francis to the Clippers in a three-way trade that will involve Kenyon Martin.

The Watcher I: Isiah Thomas will not start Francis in order to force a trade or a contract renegotiation.

The Watcher II: Jeff Van Gundy will not play Juwan Howard and he will be traded by All-Star weekend.

The Watcher III: Bob Hill will get Rashard Lewis' shot attempts up and run him as option one in the offense and risk losing Ray Allen's leadership to increase Lewis' trade value (it's his contract year).

The Last: This is Robert Horry's last season.
... and Gary Payton's.
... and Zo's.
... and Dikembe's.
... and Pat Riley's?

The Worst: Microfiber composite or microfracture surgery?

The Next (3): Randy Foye, Brandon Roy, Marcus Williams.

The Breakout (3): Jarrett Jack, Delonte West, Jameer Nelson.

The Drama: Flava Flav will visit Ernie, Charles and Kenny on the "Inside The NBA" set, New York will crash the show and Charles will throw her through a plate glass door.

The Club: Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin La Grande Dame Rose Gold Label will replace Cristal as the bottle of choice in VIP rooms.

The Miss Y'all Already: Rod Strict and Nick Van. The League won't be the same.

The Marketing: Brand Jordan will sign Nate Robinson to a deal and use him instead of 'Melo to grab the NYC audience.

Tim Duncan
Don't ever count out Tim Duncan and the Spurs.

The X-Factor: Of all the x-factors brought in this offseason -- Ben Wallace (Bulls), Tim Thomas (Clippers), Al Harrington and Marquis Daniels (Pacers), Flip Murray (Pistons), JR Smith (Nuggets), Bonzi Wells and Shane Battier (Rockets), Jared Jeffries (Knicks), Charlie Villanueva and Ruben Patterson (Bucks), Anthony Johnson and Devean George (Mavericks), Peja Stojakovic and Bobby Jackson (Hornets), Mike James (Wolves), Francisco Elson (Spurs) -- T.J. Ford (Raptors) will have the biggest impact.

The Guarantee: Steve Nash will not win the MVP.

The Comeback: Tim Duncan.

The Proof: Avery Johnson will prove last year was no fluke.

The Misconception: Even after a 63-19 season, that the San Antonio Spurs are not an elite team.

The Unfortunate: Kwame Brown in L.A. … again.

The Long Kiss Goodnight: Kevin Garnett.

The Last Kiss Goodnight: Jerry West.

Scoop Jackson is a national columnist for Page 2 and a contributor to ESPN The Magazine. He appears regularly on "Quite Frankly" and other ESPN shows. He resides in Chicago. Sound off to Scoop and Page 2 here.