Back in his playing days, Magic Johnson used to say the first thing he did was search for the dates when his Lakers would face Larry Bird and the Celtics and then he’d circle them on his calendar.
Every fan does it — scours the schedule, finds those special games with the extra story line or pop and starts to make up those early excuses to duck out on minor social commitments like weddings, bar mitzvahs and funerals in order to be in front of the big screen TV.
Here’s a fast-breaking head start on 15 games you don’t want to miss:
Tues., Oct. 30 — Celtics at Heat (TNT) — You’ve got The Heatles of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh singing, “Yeah, yeah, yeah!” as they’re presented with their championship rings before the season opener. Maybe it’s the first of “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five…” And you’ve got the image of the traitorous Ray Allen suiting up for the first time against his ex-Celtics teammates. There is not a more intense rivalry in the NBA today than Miami-Boston. The enmity is visceral.
Thur., Nov. 1 — Knicks at Brooklyn Nets (TNT) — Welcome to the first regular-season home game by a major league professional sports team in Brooklyn since the Dodgers last played at Ebbets Field on Sept. 24, 1957. The sparkling Barclays Center hosts the Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and friends against the new home team led by the high-powered backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson in the new Battle of New York. The Knicks never quite took the Nets seriously while they were across the river in New Jersey. But now the resurgent Nets could own the five boroughs.
Thur., Nov. 1 — Thunder at Spurs (TNT) — It’s the season opener for Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and the rest of the young guns, coming off their loss to the Heat in The Finals. They return to the site of their most singular victory to date, the Game 5 breakthrough at the AT&T Center that propelled OKC to their stunning 4-2 reversal against the Spurs in the Western Conference finals in June. Tim Duncan is signed up for three more years, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are at his side and the Spurs believe the door is still open for them. (more…)