AND THE ANSWER IS . . . SPIDER, WORM, WILT

Good morning, and please put on your sneakers. It’s that time of year again. Time for slam dunking and three-point shooting. Time for 47 Nike commercials in a row. That’s right. The NBA season is upon us. It begins tonight, with the Pistons kicking off their revenge year at the Palace.

You have your ticket. You have gas in your car. You have $300 for parking and food. But wait. There’s one more thing. Knowledge. A lot of changes have taken place in the NBA this summer, and there are certain things the smart fan must know to be a true expert. So before you take your seat tonight, you might want to try the following quiz.

After all, you don’t want anyone laughing at you behind your back, do you?

1. If you are a first-time reporter, and you ask Bill Laimbeer for a brief interview, you can expect to hear him say:

1) “Snfff. Snfff. What’s that smell?”

2) “Are you from Bass Master magazine?”

3) “Outta my way. I’m trying to pick my toes.”

4) “Interview? How much you gonna pay me?” 2. Dennis Rodman will begin the season with a new message shaved into the back of his head. That message will be:

1) “Kiss my nape, Michael.”

2) “Trilogy IV.”

3) “BUDDHA. SCOTT. TREE.”

4) “Trilogy V.” 3. Scott Hastings, former Piston, was traded to Denver in the off-season. Right about now, he is probably:

1) Drinking beer with John Elway.

2) Sticking two pencils in his nose for a photo.

3) Snoring on the bus.

4) Telling his new teammates about the time he saved Isiah Thomas’ life in that burning building . . . 4. Now that Wilt Chamberlain claims to have slept with 20,000 women, we can be sure that:

1) John Salley will ask for Wilt’s autograph.

2) Somewhere, 19,999 women are really ticked off.

3) We can never call him the “The Big Dipper” without laughing.

4) He what? 5. Michael Jordan is rich, famous and powerful. If we were to tap inside his brain right now, we could expect to hear:

1) “I am great, I am awesome, I am magical . . . “

2) “This Gatorade tastes like swill.”

3) “I am unique, I am king, I am godlike . . . “

4) ” . . . and the only problem is getting rid of this George Bush guy. After that . . . ” 6. John Salley recently signed a new multimillion-dollar contract. What will he do with all that money?

1) Pay Wilt for his secret.

2) Pay the electric bill on his house.

3) Buy MTV and make them play his records.

4) Flip it in front of Bill Laimbeer’s face and say, “More than you make, big fella.” 7. For most teams, the NBA draft is a chance to build for the future. For the Pistons, the NBA draft is:

1) A distant memory.

2) Worth at least five minutes’ preparation.

3) A good chance to bring a young man to Detroit, feed him, show him around, then send him home.

4) When you leave the NBA window open. 8. The best thing about Pat Riley’s taking over the New York Knicks is:

1) We won’t see him in the NBA Finals for a while.

2) We don’t have to watch him shoot baskets with Bob Costas.

3) We get to watch him try to defend Magic Johnson for once.

4) Pat Riley’s coaching the Knicks? 9. In the next month, Isiah Thomas will say which of the following sentences at least 467,000 times:

1) “Oh, I’ve forgotten about the Olympic thing.”

2) “No, no, Michael and I get along fine.”

3) “I don’t coach the team. Chuck does.”

4) “Frank Layden? No, never heard of him.” 10. Charles Thomas, Bob McCann and Brad Sellers are:

1) The Oak Ridge Boys.

2) Just thrilled to be working.

3) Someone’s idea of a good time.

4) Isiah, Thom and Peter’s younger brothers. 11. Although he helped Detroit win two NBA championships, based on the off-season trade, James Edwards was obviously worth:

1) An empty seat on the plane.

2) An Australian League player.

3) Absolutely nothing, plus future considerations.

4) Jeff (I’m Outta Here) Martin. 12. Ron Rothstein’s new job description is:

1) Color man.

2) Black-and-white man.

3) X-and-O man.

4) Coach-in-waiting.

How did you do? If you got two or fewer right, you need a new pair of Nikes. Six right, you’re ready for the Palace. Eight right, you need to develop some outside interest. And if you got all 12 right . . .

. . . you wanna write this column tomorrow?

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