Secaucus, NJ, Nov. 6, 2006 Ė I'll admit, I have a problem. You see, I'm past the point where my parents want me back. Iíve reached the age when living with a roommate is no longer fun nor considered cool by friends my own age. The clock is ticking for me to think about settling down with the right girl and starting a family of my own.

That's all fine and well, I'm completely accepting of the aging thing, but I'm a little gun-shy on the whole marriage notion, little kids and I don't exactly see eye-to-eye and rent isn't getting any cheaper in New York City.

Thus the problem with occupying myself with my new toy, the 2006-07 NBA season, spending the next indeterminable hours, days or perhaps even months in front of my television or in an NBA arena: Iím risking the prospect of growing old alone.

Ah, it's good to have basketball season back, isnít it?

Don't get me wrong, I have a very tolerant girlfriend and I love the change of the seasons, but from November until July, hoops is the only game in town.

Sure, there's not much that can compete with a summer trip to the ballpark, peanuts and hot dog in one hand, a cold soda in the other on those sunny days. That is if you, like me, can stomach the prospect of hanging your hopes on the Detroit Tigers, each time the weather turns warmer. It was a mighty thrilling run this go-round, but their meowing out of the World Series left me a bit depressed, longing for those days when, as a suburban Detroit kid, I didnít have to watch Ė after all I had Ernie Harwell, my Harry Caray, to listen to on the transistor radio rather than tuning in on the idiot box.

Summer, of course, isn't completely hoops-free.

First, thereís NBA summer league play. I really enjoy seeing what NBA rookies can do against equally green, undrafted talent, but we all know that, while it helps coaches get an early look at young guys, it's not exactly representative of what's going to happen, oh, say, now.

The WNBA is also in full swing. Count me among the fans of the game, as I have spent my fair share of time working behind the scenes with the Detroit Shock before covering the league as a whole, including hitting the road for the All-Star Game and Finals.

Then there was Team USA, trying to get back on the right road to gold by holding training sessions in Las Vegas before embarking on a trip to Asia for the World Championship. Had I not been fortunate enough to cover the tournament, I, too, would have been waking in the wee hours to see what the red, white and blue could do.

But, in truth, none of itís the same NBA game I grew up with and have come to love. Yes, give me an 82-game schedule where every team has one goal in mind. Give me a heated MVP debate. Let me lobby for a player I think should get an All-Star nod this year. Let me try to answer who is the best individual player in the world, LeBron James or Dwyane Wade.

Yes, welcome back, NBA, even if it does mean you also usher in cold weather here in the northeast. I can deal. I know how to operate the thermostat. Or hop a plane to Miami, where I was sitting a week ago watching the Bulls dismantle the Heat in the first of 1280 games on this yearís schedule Ė Iím aiming to catch part of about 1000 of those contests via League Pass or its broadband component.

It may sound like highly anti-social behavior, I agree, but think of the therapeutic qualities involved with absorbing yourself in hoops. The holiday season is fast approaching and I wonít have to join the masses at Macyís. Nope, a quick trip to the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue and I have gifts for the whole family. Sorry Dad, youíre getting another logo-man polo shirt. Then, when the department store lines form on the day after Thanksgiving, Iíll be on the couch studying my fantasy lineup and watching a 13-game tilt.

So, let the Steve Nash assists pile up. Mr. Bryant, Iím waiting for you to blow up again. Would somebody please throw the ball to Dwight Howard? Adam Morrison can rock the Ďstache as long as he wants, as long as he keeps filling up the bucket.

Ah, yes, itís good to have basketball back.