8:31 PM EDT, October 26, 2012
The NBA will open the regular season on Tuesday, a prediction you couldn't have made last season at this time.
Actually, I don't think anybody would object to playing another 66-game season. Well, the owners would. They'd play 106 if they could get away with it.
The lockout was terrific and served its purpose. Magic fans surely will agree that they couldn't have listened to Dwight Howard for 82 games.
So with a delay-of-column penalty hanging overhead, we conclude the prelims and go on with predictions for the 2012-13 season:
¿ The Miami Heat repeat as NBA champions, relying on a bench led by Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Tiny Archibald, Satch Sanders, James Worthy and Bob Cousy.
¿ David Stern is remaining in office another 15 months on the chance that he can fine Stan Van Gundy one last time if he gets a coaching job.
¿ Twenty-six team secede from the NBA to form their own league, leaving only the Heat, Lakers, Thunder and Celtics. And nobody will notice.
¿ The Charlotte Bobcats announce they will join the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
¿ The NBA pays the Bobcats' transfer fee.
¿ The Magic surprise the league by winning and are forced to add to their slogan of "We Will:" We will ….lose enough to make the draft lottery.
¿ The media begs Charles Barkley to run for commissioner just so they can use pearls such as this: Barkley, talking about the Lakers: "I've always said that I want my accountants form Princeton, not my offense."
¿ Or Stan's brother, Jeff Van Gundy, as commish: "I think they're going to combine the Princeton offense with the Santa Clara offense, with the Lower Merion offense."
¿ Steve Nash is added as a fourth referee for Lakers games to separate Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard from the basketball.
¿ Brooklyn welcomes the return of the NBA with open firearms.
¿ The Philadelphia 76ers, vowing not to play Andrew Bynum until he's totally healthy, set a target date of December 5. In 2014.
¿ Stern tries to get Stan Van Gundy thrown off the board of the Sanford Zoo.
¿ The NBA, which agreed to hold off on adding advertising patches on uniforms next season, announces that players will instead parade around the courts wearing sandwich boards.
¿ Celtics center and world-class underachiever Darko Milicic goes missing. Authorities hold resident grump Kevin Garnett for questioning.
¿ Voters are considering removing Bobcats owner Michael Jordan from the Hall of Fame for contributions detrimental to the game.
¿ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn begins his end-of-season news conference by saying, "With the first pick in the 2013 NBA draft…."
¿ The league passes a rule prohibiting players from wearing eye-glasses that, you know, don't have any real glass in them.
¿ Celtics coach Doc Rivers benches Rajon Rondo just before he is to face some kid named Austin Rivers in New Orleans. Just a coincidence.
¿ The Thunder will attempt to disrupt the Heat's chemistry by hiring Kim Kardashian as an advance scout.
¿ Shaq announces he will come out of retirement, but his rear end refuses.
¿ Dwight asks the Lakers to trade him to the farthest locker from Kobe.
What could have been
The Magic would never publicly crow about such a thing, but critics of their Dwight Howard trade should take note: There's a reason they did not take Philadelphia 76ers center Andrew Bynum in the massive deal.
The Magic didn't want to take a chance on Bynum's creaky right or left knees. Bynum will likely miss the club's season-opener. The 76ers don't know when he will be healthy enough to return.
This is what 76ers coach Doug Collins had to say — and it easily could have been Magic coach Jacque Vaughn saying it instead:
"We are not going to look over at a lifeline and wait for our lifeline to get back," Collins told reporters when asked about Bynum. "You can't do that. I have to let our guys know we are good enough to win, and hopefully, when Andrew comes back, we can be better, and he can take us to another level."
Whatever happened to Tracy McGrady, you ask?
The former Auburndale and Magic star just took a fast plane to China.
When he arrived earlier this week, T-Mac was greeted by about 2,000 screaming fans and more than 100 photographers.
He'll play for the Qingdao Double Star Eagles of the Chinese Basketball League for the next four months.
"I know very little about the CBA. Nevertheless, that doesn't matter. I'm excited about it and I can't wait to play," said T-Mac. "I think China is the place where I have the most loyal and passionate fans. I played in the NBA for 15 years. The time was just perfect for me to come here to play."
Translated: T-Mac ran out of NBA options.
This 'n' that
Oh, beware L.A. Clippers fans. Grant Hill, nursing a bone bruise in his right knee, said he won't play in the Wednesday night opener but will be back in two weeks. Hill said that in Orlando and was gone for five years. Well, Grant, at least it's not the ankle. . The Magic like Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden, who could become a free agent if he doesn't sign an extension. They like him (GM Rob Hennigan worked for the Thunder) but not enough to give him max money. Orlando would entertain the idea of acquiring him to be a Robin to whatever Batman they can find down the road. ... Magic PF Glen "Big Baby" Davis wears pink bathing gloves to the shower. Seriously.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Brian's e-book, "Dwightmare: Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic's Season of Dysfunction" is available at all major on-line bookstores.
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