Well, the NBA season is finally under way. And judging by the excitement at the Pistons’ season opener, fans around here can’t wait. And so I say . . . why wait? I’ll tell you exactly what’s going to happen:
NOVEMBER: The Pistons open strongly, winning five of their first six. Unfortunately, against the Bulls, James Edwards is fined $1,500 for touching Michael Jordan’s sneaker and Joe Dumars is fined $750 for breathing in Jordan’s air space. “Why not fine me for being here?” asks a furious Chuck Daly. “All right,” says the ref, and writes him up for $500. Back at the Palace, Bill Laimbeer has claimed Rick Mahorn’s old locker. “We were so close,” he says, wiping away a tear, “I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if I just put a few things in here. . . . ” Elsewhere, at Boston Garden, the Celtics begin their season with four straight sellouts. The fans roar when Bird, Parrish, McHale and Johnson rise from their wheelchairs. The first NBA game is played in Orlando, but confused fans keep asking “Is this an E ticket, or a D ticket?” In Chicago, newlywed Jordan makes history with the first quintuple-double: 34 points, 22 assists, 19 rebounds, 14 steals and 10 notes from women who say he married the wrong girl.
DECEMBER: The Pistons continue to roll, winning 12 of their first 15, but the fines are mounting. Mark Aguirre is slapped with a $1,000 penalty for wiping his nose near a referee. John Salley is charged $1,000 for looking at Moses Malone. “We’re not bad, we’re good,” Isiah Thomas insists. “Yeah,” say the referees, “that’s what Al Capone said.” Meanwhile, the San Antonio Spurs are the surprise of the league, grabbing first place in the Midwest Division. Larry Brown denies rumors he will leave to coach William & Mary. Or maybe just Mary. In Los Angeles, fans are abuzz over Magic Johnson’s new look: He has shaved his head and is wearing goggles. In New York, CBS announcer Dick Vitale quits after a game between Golden State and Portland, in which Drazen Petrovic stuffs Sarunas Marciulionis. “Forget this,” he says, “I need a Berlitz course.” Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Mahorn fails to show up. The 76ers trade him to Milwaukee for Gerald Henderson and a case of Strohs. JANUARY: The Pistons host the Lakers in a long-awaited showdown at the Palace. Isiah and Magic Johnson do not kiss each other this time, but Pat Riley does ask Daly to dance. The games is close, but the Pistons win, 100-97, after referee Earl Strom pops a hamstring. “I’m surprised he didn’t blame it on us,” mumbles Daly. The next day, Daly receives a letter from Strom blaming him, and fining him $2,000. Meanwhile, in Atlanta, the Hawks are slumping, and, in an effort to boost ticket sales, they host Roller Skating Night. Guard Doc Rivers invites his father to take part. “Who’s that?” someone asks. “Old man Rivers,” says Dominique Wilkins, “he just keeps rolling.” Things are bad for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have to forfeit the season after the whole team quits, retires, goes to Europe or refuses to come out of the bathroom. And in Milwaukee, Rick Mahorn is once again a no-show. He is traded to Denver for Blair Rasmussen and a free meal at Wendy’s. FEBRUARY: Sacramento declares February “Ralph Sampson Month.” All games are canceled after every player in the NBA, in celebration of the event, sits at home and begins to whine. MARCH: The Pistons host the Mavericks at the Palace. Before the opening tap, Adrian Dantley pulls Isiah Thomas aside and whispers something in his ear. Isiah smiles, then misses his first 10 shots. The Pistons win the game, however, when the referee calls a foul on Dantley for taking too much time rubbing his head at the free throw line. Meanwhile, John Salley reaches the 100 mark — in endorsements. And Bill Laimbeer makes history when he actually holds a door open for a woman. Of course the woman is old, blind and in a wheelchair — “So, what the heck?” says Laimbeer. Rick Mahorn is waived by Denver, and picked up by the Clippers. “Do you think he’ll show?” coach Don Casey is asked. “We have a better chance of seeing God,” Casey says. APRIL/MAY/JUNE: The playoffs begin. The Pistons defeat Philadelphia, Boston, and, yes, Chicago, after Jordan is hospitalized with an injured tongue. Meanwhile, the Lakers, who acquired Mahorn from the Clippers for a road map and a pack of Dentyne, storm to the Finals, beating San Antonio, Portland, and Phoenix. The championships are a rematch of last year. Joe Dumars averages 30 and 10 a game — points and words-per- interview. Magic Johnson brings a personal trainer to work his hamstring. The series goes to a seventh game, Pistons leading, 103-102 with six seconds left. James Worthy drives toward the hoop, wide open, but Mahorn, now his teammate, “accidently” bumps into him, Worthy falls down, and the game ends. Pistons win! The next morning, Mahorn is cut from the Lakers. He is picked up by the Pistons, who vote him a playoff share. “Welcome back!” says Laimbeer. “Thanks,” says Mahorn, “now get your stuff outta my locker.”
Mitch Albom’s sports talk show, “The Sunday Sports Albom,” celebrates its first anniversary tonight from 9 to 11 p.m. on WLLZ-FM (98.7) Guests: Kirk Gibson, Jimmy Carson, John Salley.