You hate to wait. I know this. You want answers. I know this. Who will win the NBA title? Who will be the stars? Who on Earth scheduled these playoffs to last longer than the Spanish-American war?
I know this.
WEEK 1: The Pistons open with two home wins over Indiana. Then, because of the brilliant NBA schedule, they have enough time off to jet to Paris, India and the South Pole. Meanwhile, Dick Versace, in an effort to rally his troops, has the words “JUST WIN, BABY” shaved into the back of his head. Unfortunately, he is mistaken at the door for a member of the now-defunct Sex Pistols, and is denied a pass. Without their coach, the Pacers lose by 60. Elsewhere, the Bulls eliminate Milwaukee in a series that even the Weather Channel refuses to televise. The Philly-Cleveland tilt ends quickly after Charles Barkley punches out Brad Daugherty, Mark Price and the Cavaliers’ ball boy. Barkley says: “I make $3 million a year. You think I care about a $50,000 fine? And which one was the ball boy?” In New York, the Knicks try to avoid a Boston sweep by bringing Willis Reed out of retirement. But Reed, 103 years old, is still younger than most of the Celtics. Boston wins. And in the West
. . .
. . . Sorry, no late scores.
WEEK 2: Travel days. Pistons tour Japan.
WEEK 3: Fully rested, the Pistons twice defeat the Celtics to start Round 2. Then, at Boston Garden, they lose their first game of the playoffs, 86-0, after the Celts lock them in the dressing room. “Cheap trick,” mumbles coach Chuck Daly. To avoid a repeat, he tells his team to dress at center court from now on. The players are a tad embarrassed. Dennis Rodman has the words “DON’T LOOK” shaved into the back of his head. Still, Detroit wins easily, although few reporters want interviews, because there are no postgame showers.
Meanwhile, Michael Jordan puts on a show in the Chicago- Philly series. He scores 63, 54, 71 and 65 points before Game 5, when he runs smack into a Rick Mahorn/Charles Barkley sandwich and faints. “Sea of Tranquillity!” Mahorn yells. A fight erupts. Barkley punches out the entire Bulls bench, three popcorn vendors and the mop man. Charles says: “I make $3 million a year. You think I care about some $200,000 fine? Mop this!”
And in the West . . . no news yet.
WEEK 4: Travel days. Pistons tour Australia.
WEEK 5: Round 3: The Pistons meet the 76ers in the Eastern Conference finals. As usual, Thomas Hearns attends, but this time, he is the undercard. Both teams come out dressed in red silk robes, to the music from “Rocky.” The court is wrapped with ropes. A moment from Game 1: PISTONS: “WHACK! . . . THUD!” 76ERS: “POW! . . . OOMPH!” SINGER: “Oh, say, can you seeee. . . . “
One by one, players land in the hospital. By Game 3, little children are visiting them and signing their casts. By Game 7, only six men remain on each team. Barkley has officially KO’d six Pistons, 16 fans, 34 reporters and Hearns. In fact, Barkley is declared the new super-middleweight champion. He is also leveled $2 million in fines. “I make $3 million a year,” he says, “you think I care about $2 million? I am champion of the world! Me! ME! I want Fraaazier! I want Fraaazier! FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY–“
With no one else to turn to, Daly asks Scott Hastings and David Greenwood to do their best against Barkley. They amaze the sports world by holding him to three shots, while scoring 68 points themselves. Detroit advances to the finals.
“Great job, Scottie! Great job, Wood!” Daly gushes. “When did you guys get so talented?”
They look at Daly. “Do we know you?” they say.
WEEK 6: NBA commissioner David Stern is shocked to learn that no Western Conference playoff games have been played to date. In fact, no West Coast games have been played all year. “They figured we’d keep seeing ‘inc.’ in the papers and never find out,” a glum Stern says.
Just as I thought.
WEEK 7: The Lakers are elected Western Conference champions because everyone else has gone home. They face Detroit in a rematch of last year’s finals. Excitement is high. “Hello, everyone!” Brent Musburger says. “What a marvelous display of basketball! Wouldn’t you say so, Dick Stockton?”
“Brent,” Stockton says, “you don’t work for us anymore. Can I have my mike back?”
The series begins. As expected, it goes back and forth. In Game 2, Bill Laimbeer, in a full body cast, bounces the winning basket off his head. In Game 5, Vlade Divac slips through the Pistons’ defense. “I thought he was some Russian folk singer,” Mark Aguirre says. Finally, we reach Game 7. The Pistons load up with Spike Lee, Mark Breland and the Winans. The Lakers counter with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson — until Adam West and Cesar Romero show up and say, “You’re in our seats.” The game is close. The lead seesaws. Trailing by one, with three seconds left, Detroit’s James Edwards throws up a hook. It swishes! Pistons win! In the locker room afterward, Edwards shaves his head and sits cross-legged with his arms folded, as his teammates chant, “Buddha! Buddha!” Chuck Daly quits to tour with Mel Torme. John Salley gets a new contract and moves into a bigger house, Joe Louis Arena. Joe Dumars wins the MVP award, but gives it back. Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Charles Barkley floors Buster Douglas to win the heavyweight crown. It is considered a mild upset.