YOU WANT TRENDS? JUST ASK MR. STYLE

All right, basketball fans. I am back for my annual visit. You know me. I am your Halston. Your Gucci. I am the man who, each year, looks at the NBA final and says, “This is what the kids will be doing on the courts this summer.”

Call me the trend-setter. Call me Mr. Style. Remember Magic Johnson’s baby-hook last year? I called that. Made a fortune. Remember Larry Bird rubbing the bottom of his shoes two years ago? My call. Made a fortune.

And now that this championship series between the Pistons and Lakers has reached Game 5, or what we in the business call the “critical” stage (the point at which viewers actually will sit through the second quarter without being paid) I am back. I have completed my study. You want to be ready for tonight’s big game? You want to cheer the cool and jeer the fool? Let’s talk shop.

WHAT’S HOT: Kissing. WHAT’S NOT: The high five.

Have you been watching this final series? Isiah Thomas and Magic Johnson exchange kisses before each game. I see this as a big summer trend. In playgrounds all across America, guys named Bubba and T-Bone will be smooching before the jump. In France, they will kiss twice. WARNING: One kiss per contest is all that is fashionable. We don’t want players getting engaged.

And the high five? It’s out. Dead. Gonzo. It will only be accepted as a substitute to kissing when one of the players has a cold. WHAT’S HOT: Lying on your stomach. WHAT’S NOT: Sitting on the bench.

Perhaps you’ve noticed: The Pistons have taken a horizontal approach to these championships. Rickey Mahorn, with a bad back, was the first to spend his time-outs on his belly. Then, Tuesday night, Thomas, also with a bad back, joined him on the floor. I see big things here. I see entire YMCA teams, flat on their stomachs, discussing strategy. This, however, could limit the pacing of a nervous coach. COACH: Jones! Get out there!

PLAYER: Get off my hand and I will.

Sitting on the bench, meanwhile, is for squares. Just ask Kurt Rambis. WHAT’S HOT: Hating the refs. WHAT’S NOT: Hating Tom Heinsohn.

The Celtics are gone. Why bother with Heinsohn? Hating Earl Strom, however, is a subject that should be taught in schools. WHAT’S HOT: Rubbing your head. WHAT’S NOT: Rubbing your shoes.

Credit Adrian Dantley with this fashion milestone. Watch him at the foul line, or before he drives the lane. He rubs his head with one hand, then the other. I am not sure whether he’s drying his palms, or getting them wet. Maybe he just wants that smooth stylish look. I don’t know. I don’t care. I love it. Rub and roll.

On the other hand, wiping the soles of your shoes is out. History. Larry Bird made this popular for a while, until people realized that if you play basketball anywhere near dogs, you’re asking for trouble.WHAT’S HOT: Rappin’ John Salley. WHAT’S NOT: Robot Robert Parish.

Talking is cool in the NBA, and nobody does it like Salley. His nickname is Mouth Almighty. He made it up himself. In a single 24-hour span of this final, Salley said: 1) “Yo, Gary Shandling! A white guy with big lips!” 2)
“Hey, Kareem! I’ll shave your head for you.” 3) “I haven’t jumped that high since some kids were chasin’ me in Brooklyn.”

Quiet men, meanwhile, are passe. Remember Robert Parish? His last known words were: “Mom, the school bus is here.” And look where he is now. WHAT’S HOT: Dancing janitors. WHAT’S NOT: Laker Girls.

The latest in Time-Out Entertainment is that custodian at the Silverdome who dances with his broom at midcourt. Very hip. Mop men everywhere will be doubling their fees.

The Laker Girls, meanwhile, are just a dozen or so gorgeous California witch women, whom you can see at any decent restaurant out there. (NOTE: I may be willing to reconsider, if any of the Laker girls would like to call me about it. Say, 8 o’clock?) WHAT’S HOT: Mothers. WHAT’S NOT: Owners.

Did you see who was cooking the post-game food for the Lakers at the Silverdome? Magic Johnson’s mother. Trendy. Very trendy. I see moms across America following their kids to gymnasiums, a spatula in one hand, and a warming tray of beef goulash in the other. Very trendy.

Owners, of course, are out. They were never in. Especially that Lakers guy, Jerry Buss. Button your shirt, buddy. We know what a hairy chest looks like. WHAT’S HOT: The Pistons. WHAT’S NOT: The Lakers.

Hate to say it, LA. But the Midwest is in this year. Minnesota won the World Series, right? Fans have jumped on the Pistons’ bandwagon, because their guys are likable, they work hard, and their coach doesn’t look like an investment banker. It is for this reason that Detroit will not only win tonight but on the coast as well, wrapping up the championship. Jocks across the country will then immediately start playing “Piston basketball” — which means most will be dead by August.

As for the Lakers? Well. Let’s be honest. We’ve seen that look before, and quite frankly, gentlemen, purple and yellow never went well together. I don’t care how many uniforms you sew.

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