My favorite part about the first game of any major pro sports season is that it's the ultimate moment for Instant History:
(1a) The Bulls routed the Heat by 42 points in Miami: The Bulls are ready to take over as the best team in the East! (Oh, who predicted THAT?)
(1b) And coming off a title, have the Heat players lost their motivation?! (Uh, didn't predict THAT.)
(2a) *Without Kobe*, the Lakers beat the Suns: So much for my pick of the Suns as the best in the West (or my pick of the Lakers as destined to miss the playoffs).
(2b) And let the speculation begin: Could it be that the Lakers better off without Kobe?! (Hmm: Maybe they should build their team around man-child sophomore C Andrew Bynum, who had 18 pts, 9 reb and 5 ast.)
Tonight's NBA slate is a packed one, with the featured matchup being the most popular player in the NBA (LeBron James) vs. the player who SHOULD be the most popular (Gilbert Arenas).
More on today's top storylines:
Shawne Merriman will sit his 4 games for using steroids, without an appeal. It's an implicit admission of guilt, but more trouble for the Chargers' defense to lose its best player.
The Bulls signed Kirk Hinrich to a 5-year contract extension ($47.5M), and he must have felt either liberated or motivated, because he led all scorers last night with 26 points.
What do the Suns and Heat share – besides an opening-night "L" in the standings? Both are rumored to be in the running for paid-off ex-Knick Jalen Rose, who seems like a good fit on either. Hmm: Which team would YOU rather play for? The defending champ or the fun-n-run contender?
MLB Free Agency: My Top 3 most intriguing free-agents, in order: (1) Daisuke Matsuzaka, because he could command a package of up to $100 million (and we all know starting pitching is everything); (2) Barry Bonds, who will likely break the all-time HR record in whatever uniform he's wearing in 2007 (I love the idea of a reunion with Jim Leyland in Detroit); (3) Barry Zito, because he's the best (not to mention most expensive) domestic starting pitcher available.
Texas Tech hoops problems: Hold off on those predictions of a Top 15 season, friends. Red Raiders leading scorer Jarrius Jackson has been suspended indefinitely for academics.
It's going to be official today: Curtis Martin's season is over. The only question is whether his CAREER is over, and how soon we can start the clock ticking for his Hall of Fame induction.
What do the Maryland women's hoops team and the Florida men's hoops team have in common? Both won the national title last year, both return all five starters and both are No. 1 in their coaches' preseason poll.
Only one more day until the first half of college football's de facto national-title semifinal showdown. Much more tomorrow...
And, in today's sad story, 111-year-old former Negro League player Silas Simmons – who it feels like fans only these last few months got to know about – died yesterday. Truly the end of an era.