Ripped from the NBA headlines
By Gino Bona
Special to Page 2

The NBA needs a little TLC.

After all, while the NFL playoffs -- and the officiating crews who ultimately decide which teams win those games -- are currently headlining, the NBA is stuck as the opening act. It's understandable the NBA is playing Cinderella to the NFL's Bon Jovi, but a lot has happened in the first two months of the NBA season to prove they're nobody's fool.

Chris Webber
C-Webb and his Kings put a hex on some L.A. headlines.
For example: The Kings finally rule their own state ... Isiah Thomas figured out how to coach ... the Jazz continue to confirm that all basketball scribes are morons ... Allen Iverson is going to practice ("We're talkin' about practice!") ... the Suns have Amare Stoudemire and 28 other teams kicking themselves ... the Celtics have Vin Baker and 28 other teams laughing uncontrollably.

And then there's Yao Ming.

The 7-foot-5 Houston center has adjusted better to America than Prince Akeem mopping floors at McDowell's. He's averaging 13 points and eight rebounds, while shooting 56 percent from the field. In fact, things are going so well for Yao that he inked an endorsement deal with Sorrent, and he's currently the leading vote-getter among Western Conference centers for this year's All-Star Game.

And you thought Yao's head couldn't get any bigger, right?

But while Yao and many others have made news in the first part of the 2002-03 NBA season, there are even more stories which haven't occurred, all of which are more amazing than the ones that actually have happened.

For example:

Mark Cuban hasn't been fined by the NBA.

Mark Cuban
We are unable to explain this man's fine-free, clean-slate status.
There are some incidents that defy explanation: Twin telepathy, Disappearing Object Phenomena, Diana Ross coppin' a feel off Lil' Kim at the MTV Video Music Awards, and now this. The Mavs owner has been fined more than $1-million over the past three years for berating refs, storming the court during a scuffle and for the ongoing evolution of his bizarro hair style (OK, I made that up). This season, Cuban's kept a clean slate. He's remained out of the league office's doghouse ... and Supercuts.

The Nuggets are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

They're not out of it and that finally gives ABC execs an excuse to resurrect "That's Incredible!" But don't dial up Cathy Lee Crosby's number just yet. The Nugs will be out of the playoff chase in no time because they have no offense. Denver's averaging a paltry 80 points per game. (Somewhere right now, Mike Fratello is smiling.) Their starting lineup consists of Lorinza Harrington, Vincent Yarbrough, Nene Hilario, Juwan Howard and Donnell Harvey.

(Aside: Is there a worse job in sports right now than being the home P.A. announcer for the Nuggets? How can you possibly sell excitement when announcing those five names 41 nights a year?!?! At least the Nugs could trade for Dan Dickau -- a P.A. announcer's dream -- to lighten up the mood a little bit.)

Two coaches have been fired ... and John Lucas wasn't one of them.

John Lucas
"Hmm, I wonder if they're just using me and my 7-29 to get to LeBron?"
The Cavs coach has guided his team to a .194 winning percentage through its first 36 games. Even France has a better percentage than the Cavs when going to war. It's remarkable that Lucas still has a job. On second thought, Lucas will probably get a contract extension if the Cavs land the first pick in next year's draft. They might even draft that high school senior with his own show on ESPN2.

The city of Atlanta hasn't read David Stern's memo that the All-Star Game will be played next month.

Is there a more lackluster sports town in America than Atlanta? For some reason, people in Atlanta just don't care about going to professional sporting events. I know of bingo halls that draw a larger crowd than Philips Arena on game night. I'm surprised one of the courtside spectators doesn't point to Theo Ratliff and yell, "Yo, we got next!" Atlanta draws more money and excitement for Freaknik than they do for the Hawks, Braves, Thrashers and Falcons -- combined. Are you feelin' me, dawg?

Dennis Rodman hasn't attempted a comeback.

Sing it with me: "Where have you gone, Dennis Rodman? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you ... woo, woo, woo."

Well, Rodman's gone to the big screen. OK, so "Cutaway" wasn't a big hit. Ditto for "Simon Sez. " But Rodman has barely said a peep since leaving the NBA. In fact, the only ruckus Rodman's made is at his Newport Beach home when he's being arrested for noise violations. Rodman might be a 42-year-old man, but he's desperate for attention, and I know the Orlando Magic could use some boards. Man, Church Street Station will never be the same if that marriage happens.

Michael Jordan
"Hold up! D-Rod left and hasn't even tried to come back?"
Jeff Van Gundy hasn't been hired as a head coach.

Van Gundy definitely went through some rough patches during his tenure with the Knicks. After all, he took an inadvertent head-butt from one of his own players and his Honda Civic blew up on a tarmac (worthy of an entire column on Page 2 Classic). Plus, while Mark Cuban ran onto the court to attempt to break up a fight, Van Gundy actually jumped in between combatants to do his best Mills Lane/human legwarmer impression.

Has Van Gundy experienced some peculiar drama? Sure has.

But was he a good coach? Damn straight.

That's why it's so strange Van Gundy's name hasn't been rumored to be the next coach of an NBA team. How can Hubie Brown get a job, but Van Gundy is still moonlighting as a talking head for TNT?

The Lakers haven't shown a single crack in their championship armor.

OK, I made that up, too.

For the past year, Gino Bona has been telling nothing but the truth on his "Wink & The Gun" site, which can be reached at E-mail him at



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