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NBA opening night is quiet and bitter

It's usually a time for high hopes and ring celebrations, but this season's lockout brings little but dark arenas and players tweeting.

November 01, 2011|By Mike Bresnahan
  • The statue of longtime Lakers play-by-play announcer Chick Hearn stands in front of an almost desolate Staples Center on Tuesday afternoon. The Lakers were originally scheduled to open the season against Oklahoma City on Tuesday.
The statue of longtime Lakers play-by-play announcer Chick Hearn stands… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles )

The 66th NBA season was supposed to start Tuesday, but the Lakers didn't play Oklahoma City at Staples Center.

The Dallas Mavericks were scheduled to get their rings Tuesday at home against Chicago, not that Lakers fans would have watched, though Shaquille O'Neal was set to make his TNT debut with Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith.

In a less-enthralling opening day matchup, the NBA wanted Utah to play host to Houston, but EnergySolutions Arena was decidedly dark Tuesday night. Next week will bring "Disney on Ice: Treasure Trove."

Instead, NBA players are scattered around the globe, some playing elsewhere, some just working out, while arenas remain quiet because of the lockout.

There was plenty of activity off the court.

Two Thunder players were busy Tuesday, but they weren't worried about stopping Kobe Bryant.

James Harden tweeted: "I'm on my way to Nike Town in Santa Monica." Serge Ibaka went to bed early, tweeting: "Goodnight everyone. early flight in the AM to Israel tel Aviv."

And Luke Walton, scheduled to start his ninth season with the Lakers, was getting ready for his first game as an assistant coach at the University of Memphis. The 11th-ranked Tigers open the season Wednesday with an exhibition against LeMoyne-Owen College.

Cleveland made Duke's Kyrie Irving the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft in June, but he's yet to cash an NBA paycheck because of the lockout. He spent Tuesday watching a high school game in Winston-Salem, N.C.

And Chris Paul watched "Family Feud."

Pau Gasol noted on Twitter that it was 10 years since his first NBA game. Then he hopped on a flight from Los Angeles to Barcelona and left behind the message that he was "hoping the lockout gets resolved soon."

Miami Heat owner Micky Arison has 500,000 costly reasons why he wants the lockout to end.

Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace pleaded guilty Tuesday to misdemeanor charges of drunken driving and possessing a firearm while under the influence of alcohol.

Tony Parker and Ronny Turiaf might play together this weekend for a French team against another French team featuring the Portland Trail Blazers' Nicolas Batum.

New Jersey forward Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian officially filed for … I can't even write it. Why bother?

The world fell at the feet of the Kevin Durant, who joined exuberant Oklahoma State students for a game of flag football on Halloween night. His post on Twitter: "I had soooo much fun at Oklahoma st playing flag football…I threw 4 tds and had 3 ints!!" Finally, some joy from somebody.

Above the din of millionaires arguing with billionaires, there was an email from George Moreno, a fourth-grade teacher at Micheltorena Elementary School in Los Angeles.

"Yesterday at our school fall festival one of my molars hurt. I make a mental note to schedule an appointment to see my dentist in January 2012, since my miserable $1,000/year insurance ran out in July.

"A minute or two later, a 9-year-old student of mine shows up to the fall festival wearing a homemade Halloween costume made from the two large sheets of paper I gave out on Friday. I bought the paper at Staples Office Supply with my own money. The student had colored the paper and came as a slice of pizza. Since the student is homeless, I did not charge admission and handed the student's mom a $3 card to spend, courtesy of the PTA. They stayed the whole day.

"The bigger moral question for me is twofold: 1) Do these owners and NBA millionaires deserve my support at all? 2) Is it time for my friends and family members to bring up this topic in workplace lunchrooms?

"Feeling a bit beat up and sad here…."

He's not alone.

Pistons forward Austin Daye tweeted: "Today is a sad day today was the first official day of the NBA Season!!!"

He added: "Who wants free tickets to the pistons game tomorrow night????? #lockout"

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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