HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The calendar can be a cruel reminder sometimes.
This was supposed to be Opening Night around the NBA. The games were going to tip off and we’d dive back into the NBA season like we always do this time of year, enjoying the last few hours of the “offseason” before getting into the ritual that is the eight-month odyssey of the NBA season.
We’ve held off on the pity party around here the past few weeks, knowing full well that there was chance we’d wake up this morning to a lockout that apparently knows no end. Worst of all is the memories we have from a fantastic 2010-11 season and a splendid playoff run, one spent chronicling the every move of the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks. As my man Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News points out, ring night for the reigning champion will have to wait:
Seven diamonds. One for each road victory that the Mavericks had in their championship run — shaped in a heart to signify their singular resolve.
Four blue sapphires, representing the four close-out games that they won without ever losing a potential playoff series ender.
Something snappy written in gold. Like maybe, ‘Perseverance.’ Or, ‘Grit.’
Or maybe just: We Are The Champions.
These are the things that should be inscribed and mounted on the Mavericks’ championship rings, which they should be receiving tonight at American Airlines Center.
They won’t, of course. The NBA lockout has erased the first month of the season, which includes opening night. The Chicago Bulls were supposed to be in town and the first leg on the Mavericks’ championship victory lap would have been great for the team and even better for the fans.
Reliving that magical run will have to wait until December or January or later.
It is painful to realize this day, and the 29 that will follow, will not include a single dribble of an NBA basketball in a game that matters. Yeah, I know there are exhibitions planned and the faces that are so familiar to so many will pop up here and there. But it’s not the same. You know it and I know it.
Instead of games, we’re left with more of the lockout soap opera to chew on while we wait for the sides to go back to the negotiating table. Union president Derek Fisher is busy fighting those questioning his loyalty to his constituency. Heat owner Micky Arison is busy digging into his wallet to pay fines for a Twitter habit gone wrong.
Surely, both men would rather be doing something else, namely celebrating the start of yet another championship chase by two teams (Fisher’s Lakers and Arison’s Heat) that would have been considered top contenders heading into the 2011-12 season, along with the aforementioned defending champs — and a few other teams, too.
Instead, all we are left with is these lasting images of the past few weeks (see video below). Hollow promises, edicts and deadlines have been thrown in every direction.
Bottom line: We’ll sit down for Thanksgiving dinner and have to go cold turkey on the basketball trimmings we’re used to, since the entire month was sacked by the labor impasse.
But if we get to Christmas without a season … let’s not even go there!