to 72: as if
Everyone knows the former champions are even better than when they won their title -- so what's to stop them from breaking the Bulls' record of 72 wins?
Making it really exciting, it remains to be seen which former champ will do it -- or if both will -- because the 2008-09 Celtics and the 2009-10 Lakers started the season thinking they could do it.
One Los Angeles newspaper even ran a front-page story speculating on the Lakers' chances. Oh, that was us.
Meanwhile, the Celtics now have Rasheed Wallace, the NBA's answer to Howard Stern. Sheed announced, "I think we can get that Bulls record."
Since Sheed has been wrong about 100 times in a row, that should settle that.
Showing Wallace isn't alone, teammate Glen Davis, asked about the record, noted, "We can do some unbelievable things."
Proving that much, at least, Big Baby then broke his thumb in a fight with a friend while driving in an SUV.
There's no way of knowing if the gods were already tired of hearing everyone talk, but if I was on either team, I'd zip it up.
Cutting to the chase
Neither will win 72, I promise.
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson is always conscious of not burning out his teams. The Bulls, who won 72, were his, but he couldn't hold Michael Jordan, et al., back.
After that team won the 1996 title, Jackson came back in the fall, saying they wouldn't set any more records.
They didn't, winning only 69, tying them for the second-best record, too.
Similarly, after injuries torpedoed last season, Boston Coach Doc Rivers will watch his 30-somethings, particularly Kevin Garnett, closely.
If New England is psyched with the Celtics 3-0, perspective was restored here when the Lakers lost their second game . . . by 14 . . . to . . . Dallas?
For you die-hards, unfortunately, I'm not allowed to take bets.
Story of the year
Golden State's Stephen Jackson, who turned in his captaincy after being suspended for saying he wanted to be traded, keeps skulking around. Coach Don Nelson said a trade "wouldn't surprise me. I hope he doesn't because I think we've worked that out now but we have to roll with the punches." . . . At least, it's better than last fall's Big Story: the Knicks' cruelty to Stephon Marbury, now retired in the absence of any interest from anyone.
Upcoming free agent Amare Stoudemire, supposedly set to put up big numbers, is out of shape and putting up medium-size numbers (36 points, 10 rebounds in the first two), perhaps upset that he was almost traded to Golden State last spring. . . . Jax and Andris Biedrins (who was in original deal for Amare) for Stoudemire, anyone?
Knicks Coach Mike D'Antoni says he'll no longer take questions on 2010 free-agent prospects -- with their two-maximum-slot scenario whittled to a 1 3/4 -slot scenario, obliging them to stand pat on last season's 32-win team. . . . Said D'Antoni after they shot 38% in their opening loss in Miami: "I don't need shooters. I need makers." . . . What they really need is someone to take Eddy Curry, making a "comeback" -- but yet to get on the floor this fall -- or Jared Jeffries off their cap.
-- Mark Heisler