Friday, April 18, 2008

NBA Playoffs Guide, From A To Z

The regular season is over, so 16 teams still have dreams of an NBA championship. Well, I’m not sure the Hawks can even dream of a title, but you get the point. Here’s an A-To-Z look at the NBA postseason.

American: Company whose name is on the Mavericks’ home arena, even though their best player is German and their owner is Cuban.

Benedict XVI: Pope who will perform before huge crowds in New York this weekend. So you know he’s not on the Knicks.

Coaches: Men on the sideline who, every once in a while, get their players to listen to them. Most of them won’t have this job for long.

DUI: Abbreviation attached to a Nuggets star this week, so I think it stands for “Don’t Underestimate Iverson!”

Eleven: Games ahead of playoff-bound Atlanta for Golden State, which missed the postseason. Coach Don Nelson is pleading, “Oakland’s on the East Bay – shouldn’t we be in the Eastern Conference?”

Fifth: Seed you get in the Western Conference after winning 22 games in a row.

Go-To Guy: What every championship-caliber team needs. “Go-To” is short for “Go to the line,” since he’ll get all the calls.

Howard Stern: Not the radio guy. I just wanted to mention the slam dunk contest winner and the commissioner in the same entry.

Ignore: What casual sports fans will do to you when you win 59 games, if you’re the Pistons.

June: When the Finals will end. Or the first round, I’m not sure.

KG: Not only Kevin Garnett in Boston, but Kobe-Gasol in LA. Which also means “Kwame’s Gone” and “Kupchak’s Grateful.”

Languages: Like championship rings, there are lots of them in the Spurs’ locker room.

Magic: Orlando or Johnson, who along with Larry Bird will be shown a BILLION times in old clips if that Lakers-Celtics series materializes.

NBA TV: A network that’s unfamiliar to most people. Which is why much of the Toronto-Orlando series has been banished there.

O’Neal, Shaquille: Like John McCain, he’s an old guy representing Arizona who wants to win the big prize.

Paul: Whether last name (Chris) or first (Pierce), he’s a star on a highly-seeded team you haven’t seen at this time of year lately.

Quarter Century: Time it’s been since the 76ers won the title – the last pro sports championship in Philadelphia. Clearly, those bitter Pennsylvanians referenced by Obama are Philly sports fans.

Raptors: A Canadian team that won’t win the championship, so it would be at home in the NHL.

Stu Jackson: A name the Suns really don’t want to hear during THIS series with the Spurs.

T-Mobile Ads: The only way you’ll see a Miami Heat player during the postseason.

Utah: Franchise hoping for its first Finals appearance since 1998, when Salt Lake City teams were runner-up in both the NBA and NCAA. I’m guessing Memphis won’t repeat that feat this year.

Viewership: Great for ABC when broadcasting Tony Parker’s wife. Not so much when broadcasting Tony Parker’s team.

Woods, Tiger: Unlike LeBron James, he’s a Nike superstar who can win championships by himself.

X-ray: Like throwing his jersey into the crowd, it’s part of Gilbert Arenas’s post-game ritual.

Youth: Something most middle-aged men desire, unless they’re NBA general managers in search of a championship.

Zilch: Playoff series won by Tracy McGrady in six attempts. But as the old saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try again.”