NBA ALPHABET SOUP: TIME TO PLUNGE IN

Now that’s showbiz. In fact, in its first week, the NBA has already produced several rookie sensations, a red-headed giant who can’t shoot straight, and an angry player trying to strangle his general manager.

Pretty good for an opening act, huh?

In case you’ve been sleeping, here’s a quick look at the league, from A to Z. . . .

A is for Alvin Robertson, who is probably not going to make team captain this year.

B is for Bradley, Shawn, who may one day grow up to be a decent NBA player, but right now is as painful to watch as a school play.

C is for Charles Barkley, who has always acted like a cartoon character, but now really is one. A company has released a comic book with Barkley as a Dick Tracy-like detective who hunts down a criminal suspected of — get this
— killing NBA referees. What a dumb idea! In real life, Charles would be helping the guy escape.

D is for Dennis, as in Rodman, to whom we say this: Worm, here, catch this rope. Pull yourself back to planet Earth.

E is Ewing, Patrick, who, mark my words, will be the biggest star on the stage when the NBA Finals roll around. Only his shy nature about public speaking has kept him from becoming the media sensation New York usually creates.

F is for free throws, as in 97 straight that Micheal Williams sank before missing one the other night. This is just one way the Pistons’ letting Williams go for next to nothing was the dumbest giveaway since 3-D glasses.

G is for Golden State, where standing up qualifies you for team MVP.

H is for Hunter, Lindsay, who not only impresses everyone who watches him for the first time, but also seems to be that increasingly rare athlete: a guy who truly loves to play the game.

I is for Indiana, which will soon be the next place Larry Brown sees in his rearview mirror.

J is for Jordan, Michael. What was he thinking last weekend, when he watched his former teammates get blown out by Atlanta in Chicago Stadium? Here’s a guess: “Man, I was more underpaid than I thought.”

K is for Kukoc, Toni, one of several foreign players looking to make a big impact in the NBA. I salute Kukoc, if only for agreeing to play next to surly Scottie Pippen. Pippen spent much of the 1992 Olympics telling reporters how Kukoc was a big waste of money.

L is for League Salary Cap, which, thanks to all the ways teams now get around it, has officially become a joke.

M is for Moses Malone, who gets a standing ovation. When you are 144 years old, you deserve it.

N is for Nets, New Jersey, who have to wonder if they were cursed by a voodoo doctor. First, the tragedy with Drazen Petrovic. Then, Chris Dudley departs for Portland with a controversial free-agent contract (only to break his ankle in the first week of the season). And, of course, Derrick (Brinks Truck) Coleman tells the Nets that $69 million guaranteed is a nice starting point, but, you know, you don’t really expect us to settle for that, do you?

N is also for “nuts.”

O is for O’Neal, Shaquille, whose baskets all sound the same — whummmph! I’m sorry. I know the guy is averaging nearly 40 points per game. I still think he’s only half the player he could be.

P is for pray, which is what you better do if the other half shows up.

Q is for Quinn Buckner of the Dallas Mavericks, who, despite Jamal Mashburn, despite Jimmy Jackson, and despite Derek Harper, are still destined to finish somewhere beneath sea level this year.

R is for Rockets, Houston, who have the league’s most underappreciated star, Hakeem Olajuwon.

S is for Salley, John. Another few months and he’ll be finished opening his wedding presents.

T is for Time Out Inc. — Chris Webber’s company, and the best example I’ve ever seen of turning a lemon into lemonade.

U is for . . . uh . . . wait . . . U . . . hang on . . .

U is for Utah, as in Jazz, which now says it wants to hang Adrian Dantley’s number from the rafters. Funny. They couldn’t wait to get rid of him a few years ago; now they want to immortalize him.

V is for Very Old, which is what Joe Dumars is going to be if they keep using him 40-plus minutes a night. It’s a shame that Dumars has reached his absolute peak when the team is in a rebuilding stage. People may never appreciate what a great player this guy ultimately made of himself.

W is whoosh, the best years of the Portland Trail Blazers whizzing past them without a title.

X is for Xavier McDaniel. I have nothing to say about him, but he’s the only X I could think of.

Y is for “Yo’ mama,” which may or may not be allowed under the new anti-taunting rule this season. Trash talk will be permitted; taunting will not. When someone figures the difference, please call us here at the office, anytime, day or night, we can’t wait for this one.

Z is for . . . Z is for . . .

Uh . . .

Did I tell you what A is for Alvin Robertson, who probably won’t make team captain this year? . . .

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