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Friday, Nov. 1


GET OUT THE VOTE

M E D I A W A T C H
A REALLY BIG SHOW
Mike Myers implored him to keep it real. Bernie Mac sat down with him, via satellite, for an interview and Johnny Knoxville offered him a deep tissue massage.

It was all in one-half hour's work for Charles Barkley and his new show Listen Up! Charles Barkley with Ernie Johnson that debuted on TNT before the NBA doubleheader.

Barkley and Johnson (minus Kenny "The Jet" Smith, who joined them at halftime) are now in their third year together at TNT, and their chemistry has been well established. Johnson plays the emcee while Barkley comments on everything from Winona Ryder's shoplifting case (Barkley: "That's one of the best all-time lies I ever heard. Practicing for a role. That's B.S. to me.") to whether he or Arnold Schwarzenegger would make a better governor (Barkley: "Arnold would be a better governor. He has better connections. I don't know anybody.")

Johnson's an excellent interviewer and Barkley's not bad as they asked Bernie Mac the secret to his success.

Still, the show works best when Barkley riffs on Ernie ("Jackass?" You're wife calls you that all the time!" Barkley told Johnson when they teased the Johnny Knoxville movie) and when they show clips of guests wearing garish outfits (Bernie Mac at the Def Comedy Jam wearing a multicolored shirt, with his self-portrait on one leg of his pants).

Listen Up! Charles Barkley with Ernie Johnson will be on Thursdays at 7 p.m. ET throughout the season.


Has a movement started to nominate NBA Commissioner David Stern for president? Of these United States? We think it's a good idea and The Sports Guy is willing to give his nomination speech.

Meanwhile Dan Patrick grabbed a little quality time with Commissioner Stern. No word as to whether they had this conversation in their bathrobes while waiting for Wally Szczerbiak to pretty up in the bathroom. (ESPN.com)

CALL IT A COMEBACK?

He can hear you. We're convinced of it.

Every time there are whispers, every time someone runs a three minute feature on how Jordan shouldn't become Willie Mays with the Mets, every time a celebrity friend says: "He's done," more often then not, Michael Jordan proves to everyone there's still a little left.

It's understandable. Jordan went 4-for-14 in the Wizards' 74-68 loss to the Raptors on Wednesday. After all, Jordan's career high is 69.

Which makes this all the more interesting. The last time Jordan was on a team that scored 68 total points in a game that counted, he and his teammates lost to Indiana 72-68. That would be Indiana University on March 22, 1984 in the NCAA tournament, and Jordan was a Tar Heel.

After one game, there was panic. Settle. One game does not a season make. The Wizards and Jordan, who had 21 points, bounced back with a 45-point trouncing of the Celtics on Thursday, 114-69. (Washington Times)

So, as long as we remember that Jordan isn't the MJ of old, just an older Jordan who will be more up and down than the days when he could go up and seemingly never come down, we'll be able to keep things tight.

ANOTHER REMINDER

For every fan who wants Finals tickets printed RIGHT NOW after their team won on opening night, and for fans who broke bones jumping off a bandwagon after their team lost the season opener, we have a word of advice:

Take a deep breath. We admire the passion, but it's only the first week. Titles aren't won when your team is 1-0 and they're not lost when a team is 0-1.

We're here for you.

Then again, there are the Lakers. The claws are out in Los Angeles and with an 0-2 start, the Lakers aren't using them on opponents, but on each other. (ESPN.com)

CAPE FEAR

Walt Frazier is the only man cool enough to wear a cape.
Walter Iooss Jr.
NBAE/Getty Images
Like ESPN's in-game slow motion camera (more on this later), Click and Roll will quickly roll back to look at Wednesday night when the league had a whopping 14 games.

Look! Out on the floor! It's a power forward! It's a shooting guard! It's Baron Davis wearing a cape?

Egads! In the first game in their new home against the Utah Jazz, the New Orleans Hornets took the floor for pregame introductions wearing silver capes.

(Luckily for those involved, I couldn't find an image of the Hornets in their capes anywhere. No photos, no video, nothing. As soon as the intros were finished, the Hornets players couldn't get them off fast enough.)

But it happened. People were there. They wrote it down. Let's just say the reviews were mixed at best, with future Hall of Famer John Stockton giving the look, well, an incredulous look. (FOXSports.com, Salt Lake Tribune)

We promise. We'll never speak of it again.

FLOORING IT

COUNTDOWN TO 70:

Bibby
Before the season, Kings guard Mike Bibby told a crowd at ARCO Arena he thought the Kings could win 70 games this season. We're keeping track.

Win No. 2: 100-72 over Blazers, Oct. 31
Wins needed to reach goal: 68
Games remaning: 80
Bibby's line: On injured list
ESPN has introduced some technical marvels for its NBA broadcasts this season. (Orlando Sentinel)

We're all for Free Flight, the view the basketball gods must have as the camera hovers over the court. We also dig FloorCam, where a hole is cut out of the floor and camera placed inside. The perspective was quite striking in the Lakers-Blazers game on Wednesday. Sometimes, fans don't get the perspective on TV as to how big these guys are. FloorCam gives you that.

The only innovation that caught us off guard was the in-game slow motion camera. The game would be moving at full speed, and then, all of a sudden, everything was moving in slow mo. At first, I thought my digital cable was on the fritz. Not so. I just wonder if they can use that camera in basketball, especially on the break, when the game moves so quickly.

WEEKEND FASTBREAKS

Who is Colin Pine? And how did he go from the State Department to the NBA? (Houston Chronicle)

How do two rookies who speak different languages get along on the court? Denver's Nene Hilario and Nikoloz Tskitishvili make it work. (Rocky Mountain News)

Rob Peterson, NBA.com

Wednesday, Oct. 30


WE GOT THE POWER
Again, we present power rankings from across the Web. Like we said, these are opinions, while the standings are the cold, hard facts.

Here they are. Argue amongst yourselves:
NBA.com
ESPN.com
CNNSI.com
CBS Sportsline
Sporting News
InsideHoops.com

These are not the opinions of Click and Roll. If you don't like the rankings and want to complain, write to the guys and gals who compile them.

We must give kudos to the Sacramento Bee for its season preview section. While it has all the basics, the Bee pulls out the stops with its "What it feels like to ..." feature. We've often wondered what it was like to be in the thick of things. The Bee gives readers a chance to experience it.

Let's look at some of the "What it feels like to ...":

  • ... drain a last-second shot (Click and Roll: We've done it!)
    In a playoff game? (C&R: Uh, no.)
  • ... miss a last-second shot in a crucial game -- and miss it badly
    (C&R: Oh, who hasn't been there?)
  • ... sign a paycheck for an amount so high it would make your eyes bulge
    (C&R: We wish.)
  • ... broadcast a pressure-packed playoff game that matters
    (C&R: Does calling play-by-play over the phone to a sibling count?)
  • ... draw a technical foul
    (C&R: Do you even need to @^%$! ask?)
  • ... actually taste the atmosphere of the NBA Finals
    (C&R: This is a touchy subject for the Kings and their fans, but one current Kings player has.)
  • ... get a standing O at ARCO
    (C&R: Nope, can't say that we have.)
  • ... become a national media figure and go back to cover your hometown team
    (C&R: We have a favorite team, but we won't tell you which one it is. And it's not the same as Summer's.)
  • ... be involved in a heated, intense rivalry
    (C&R: We know it has no place, but one Kings fan held up a humorous sign during the Kings season opener: Beat Up L.A.)

    Have you ever drained a last-second shot? Have you ever missed one? If you have, let us know and give us a shout. We'll use some of the best in the next Click and Roll.

    (And if you've ever signed a check for millions of dollars, do you mind if we call you "friend?")

    STORIES GALORE

    DOUBLE DRIBBLE:
    "I had my heart ripped out, and my brother Gavin as well. I mean, the worst feeling, the worst pain I've had -- I don't know if you're supposed to feel that way, but that's how I felt."
    -- Kings co-owner Joe Maloof on losing the Western Conference finals last season (Sacramento Bee)
    It seems we know what it feels like to lose the seventh game of a conference finals at home, as Kings fans are still taking last year's loss to the Lakers in the Western Conference finals hard, very hard. (Sacramento Bee)

    The NBA got cheeky with its scheduling, and we like it, as the New Orleans Hornets host the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. One man remembers what it was like when the Jazz were New Orleans' team. (Times Picayune)

    NBA.com also had a chat with Bob Remy, New Orleans' first official scorer when the Jazz were in town, and who is now the new official scorer for the Hornets. (NBA.com)

    Two heads are better than one when it comes to hoops. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

    The Lakers got their rings, but it still was a tough night: a loss and no Chick Hearn. (L.A. Times)

    Who is Pat Burke? Find out what this guy is doing starting for the Magic at center. (Orlando Sentinel)

    As the Wizards look into the their crystal ball, they see success, especially with No. 23 coming off the bench. (Washington Post)

    COUNTDOWN TO 70:

    Bibby
    Before the season, Kings guard Mike Bibby told a crowd at ARCO Arena he thought the Kings could win 70 games this season. We're keeping track.

    Win No. 1: 94-67 over Cavs, Oct. 29
    Wins needed to reach goal: 69
    Games remaning: 81
    Bibby's line: On injured list
    A Q&A with Bulls GM Jerry Krause, plus random thoughts from a writer (which is always a sketchy deal, no matter the writer). (Chicago Tribune)

    It can't rain on Yao Ming's parade, or can it? (Houston Chronicle)

    After a winter of extreme discontent, Ray Allen and Anthony Mason are singing Kumbaya in Milwaukee. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

    For the Nets, making the playoffs is passť. It's the Finals or bust for them. (New York Post)

    It's a long way from Coffeyville, Kan. to the home of Starbucks for the Sonics' new starting power forward, Reggie Evans. (Seattle Times)

    According to this man, it's time for the Pacers to grow up quickly. (Indy Star)

    When one uses angels as divine inspiration, one will roll the eyes toward the heavens. Clippers coach Alvin Gentry is glancing in the direction of Anaheim. (L.A. Times)

    Rob Peterson, NBA.com

    Monday, Oct. 28


    ONE MORE DAY

    M E D I A W A T C H
    The Czar and Marv during full-dress rehersal.
    (Rocky Widner, NBAE/Getty Images)

    (RIM) ROCKIN' THE MIC
    As the NBA opens on Tuesday and the first games flicker across television screens across the nation, we wanted to hear the opinions of the guys who will be courtside for more than 50 games this season. So, we asked TNT's venerable broadcasters their thoughts on this upcoming season.

    Which teams will be the most improved this season?
    I see the Wizards being the most improved. They made some excellent moves. They're very deep now with the addition of Bryon Russell, Larry Hughes, Michael Jordan coming back and Jerry Stackhouse. This is a team that can go far.
    -- Marv Albert, TNT NBA Play-by-Play

    New Jersey helped themselves a lot with Dikembe Mutombo, Chris Childs and Rodney Rogers are major additions. They've really helped themselves. They have made themselves formidable with an already strong base. The biggest question is can this new group of guys adjust to the Princeton type of offense.
    -- Hubie Brown, TNT NBA Analyst

    I like what Washington has done with Larry Hughes, Bryon Russell, and with second year kids like Brendan Heywood and Kwame Brown. I love the addition of Stackhouse, they're gonna be a team that makes it to the playoffs. I also like what they did with their draft, I like Juan Dixon and Jared Jeffries. I think they're the most improved team in the East, but New Jersey is still the best team.
    -- Danny Ainge, TNT NBA Analyst

    Houston, Atlanta and Chicago could make the biggest jumps this season. In Houston, Yao Ming will definitely be a factor. He'll be a double-digit rebounder right away.
    -- Mike Fratello, TNT NBA Analyst

    Which players will have breakout seasons?
    There are two guys, Richard Jefferson of the Nets, who will start this year and was known for his defense last year. He's a slasher with offensive skills. And Wally Szczerbiak. I know he had a good year last year, but near the end of last season he turned his defense up a couple of notches. We could also see him score some more also.
    -- Albert

    Steve Francis is already an All-Star caliber player, he should have a great year this year. Stephon Marbury will comeback with a great year. I know Phoenix was ridiculed because of the Jason Kidd trade, but I do think Marbury will have a great year this year. I think he's really ready to step out.

    Hopefully for Boston, Vin Baker will be an inside presence. He had some really good playoff games against San Antonio's big front line. He could step up and have a good year as well.
    -- Ainge

    Desmond Mason in Seattle is having a great traing camp so far. Darius Miles in Cleveland is in a new situation, but he'll be a full-time starter this season instead of coming off the bench. Shawn Marion is established, but he could have a big year because he's playing with more confidence.
    -- Fratello

    Who will be the MVP?
    I don't think Shaq will play enough this year to be the MVP. That being said he's still the best player and the most dominating force in the league.

    Tracy McGrady. He's been one of the top five players the last couple of years, and with Grant Hill back in the lineup, the Magic may get enough wins for him to be worthy of the award. He's a very special player. He's carried that team on his back.

    Duncan is solid and steady and Kidd could have won it last year, because he took that team from nothing to something, but the expectations are obviously a lot higher this year.
    -- Ainge


    On Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. ET, we know you will be one of two places: In front of your TV, watching the Sixers take on the Magic in Orlando on TNT or at one of the three opening night games.

    But from when the Lakers-Kings dust-up (more on this later) finished until Tuesday night, you had 72 hours to do with what you wish. We made our own suggestions and we asked you what you were going to do. Here's how fans around the world prepared for Tuesday's opener:

    Jesus from Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico says: I will go to the park near my house before the NBA storm comes here.

    reda of Dearborn, Mich. gets in the Click and Roll for kissing up (flattery will get you everywhere): "I'm spending my free time on NBA.com."

    Jamie from Montreal, Quebec also drives down Flattery Lane: "I'm gonna stay at my computer all 3 days on the NBA.com website clicking the "refresh" button every 30 seconds."

    Steve from Minnesota may need to see a marriage counselor after this season: "I will spend my free time with my wife because when the season starts it's all over with."

    Anthony from Donora, Pa. may be asking for the impossible: "I plan on reading up on my Sixers and hoping nobody else gets hurt during these three days off." (No one did and Allen Iverson is even going to practice.) "Also making sure that my fantasy basketball team's lineup is ready for the season." (Philadelphia Daily News)

  • Katrina from Cleveland wants her Blazers to prosper: "For the 72 hours without basketball I will be praying to the basketball gods that Portland will win the NBA championship this year. Of course, I have been doing that since the end of last year!"

  • Eric in Norwich, New York will get old school: "Watch ESPN Classic and see reruns of NBA games." (P.S. E, you can watch them on NBA TV as well.)

  • RockyMak from Auckland, New Zealand (Love the Haka dance!) actually had many good suggestions, but we'll take the Rock's first: "You stocked up the remote for TV, what about the VCR? Stock up those E-180'2, but preferably E-240's or E-300's and tape it for long play so you can watch your favorite games again and again."

  • Rubens of Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil has the most logical way to pass the time: "How about playing basketball? Is there a better way to wait than playing some ball?"

    We appreciate your feedback, so give us a shout.

    HOLIDAY CHEER

    We've made light of the fact that the Kings and the Lakers have a budding rivalry that could turn acrimonious during the season.

    Still, no one expected frustrations to boil over into fisticuffs in the preseason as they did on Friday night.

    Goodness, gentlemen. Couldn't you wait?

    Rick Fox, who tussled with Doug Christie on the court and in the tunnel, apologized for his behavior.

    We can only imagine what will happen when these teams meet for the first time on -- yikes! -- Christmas Day. Let's hope the Kings and the Lakers are not serving up any holiday punch.

    FASTBREAKS

    You may think you know more than the officials (as I think I do; and nothing is as silly as a grown man yelling at a television), but you don't. (ESPN.com)

    Philadelphia has its own Big Three. (Philadelphia Daily News)

    Teams have yet to get into the zone. (ESPN.com)

    While they're reaching for the stars, this year's edition of the Knicks will keep their feet on the ground. (New York Times)

    Who is more important to the Milwaukee Bucks? Columnists duel as one says George Karl is the man with the plan, while one says "Sam I Am." (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

    On Nov. 9, No. 34 goes to the Compaq Center rafters. (Houston Chronicle)

    Pacers coach Isiah Thomas answers his critics. (Indy Star)

    For the Hawks not to need to shell out a Benjamin, a Jackson and a Lincoln (equals $125) to each full season ticket holder, they'll need to follow these five -- ahem -- easy steps. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

    Someone once said 90 percent of life is just showing up. If so, Heat center Ken Johnson has this thing figured out. (Palm Beach Post) Bryce Drew has more heart than you can imagine. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

    To win a title, it takes two to tango. (Bergen County Record)

    Where, oh, where have all the centers gone? (San Antonio Express-News)

    Rob Peterson, NBA.com