The big news in this week’s NBA was the start of the NBA pre-season, which officially got tipped off in Mexico with Dallas playing Utah. Eduardo Najera a Mexican native was the star attraction, but it was the Jazz that used multiple Dallas turnovers late to get them the victory. Tony Parker led his NBA champion San Antonio Spurs into his hometown of Paris, France for a game against Memphis. Parker had a big second half finishing with 19 points as the Spurs beat-up on the Grizz. With the NBA continuing to show interest in expanding to either Mexico or possibly Europe, the question remains is this just a ploy to try and gain back some popularity that the game has lost here in the USA by getting more foreign fans involved or does the NBA actually think that this would be a legitimate proposal? Remember they (the NBA execs) thought the WNBA would be a huge success, and clearly the only reason the WNBA continues to exists is due to political factors, and not business.
Of course with games “officially” beginning some of the top free agents and rookies are getting their first true NBA exposure. In Detroit the Lebron James show rolled into town and took on Larry Browns’ Pistons. #2 draft pick Darko Milicic played and was less then spectacular scoring 5 points and missing 4 foul shots. James played under a microscope as he will all season, and performed admirably, 8 points only and looked real bad on a couple jump shots, but he had the whole place buzzing with his 7 assists including a spectacular around the back to Zydrunas Ilgauskas for a easy dunk.
A NBA article wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the on going Kobe Bryant case. The early hearings are scheduled to start soon in Colorado; Bryant has been practicing with the Lakers but did not play in their pre-season opener. Bryant is holding true to his innocent position, but the media and public seems to have lost some interest in this case, maybe due to other sports news (MLB playoffs, NFL) or people are just tired of hearing about another millionaire who screws up. In either case I’m sure after this trial drags on for a while it will take it’s toll on Kobe and we’ll have to wait and see if it affects his play or the play of the Lakers.
Phoenix Suns’ point guard Stephon Marbury signed a four-year extension this week. A player who has had allot of trouble in his career since his insistence on being traded out of Minnesota, The Nets dealt him to Phoenix and everyone thought what a horrible trade that was after Jason Kidd led the Nets to 2-straight NBA Finals. Last year with the help of rookie of the year Amare Stoudamire and Shawn Marion, Marbury got the Suns into the playoffs, and despite the loss to the Spurs in the first round Suns fans have a very good team, that is loaded with young talent. The media applauded Marbury for showing for of a “team attitude” last year, but in reality it was just having a better team around him to work with.
One final note the Denver Nuggets are considering bringing in Dennis Rodman for a tryout. Why I’m not totally sure at age 42 I’m not sure how much of a impact “The Worm” could have on a young team, he’s not exactly a “veteran leader” but if he grabs a few boards and puts a couple more people in the seats, ya never know.