THE END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT: For the second time in less than a year, ESPN “personality” Stephen A. Smith said the N-word on TV. And just like the first time, he denied that he said it and offered no apologies. Even if the Worldwide Leader ever finds its cojones and actually fires Smith, they’ll probably hire him back. Again. Just like they did before. Actual felines have fewer lives than this cat.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Brooklyn Nets forward Andray Blatche, on being taunted while on the court by players on the New York Knicks’ bench:
“If I was on that bench and I was one of their players, I’d do the same thing.”
LINE OF THE WEEK: Eric Bledsoe, LA Clippers vs. LA Lakers, Oct. 24: 44 minutes, 7-18 FGs, 1-4 3-pointers, 7-8 FTs, five rebounds, 11 assists, nine steals, three turnovers, 22 points in a 97-91 win. If you just looked at the numbers without the name, you would think they belonged to Chris Paul, who had the night off.
LINE OF THE WEAK: Dexter Pittman, Miami vs. Charlotte at Raleigh, N.C., Oct 23: 10 minutes, 0-0 FGs, 0-2 FTs, two rebounds, three turnovers, four fouls, zero points in a 98-92 win. Now you know why the Heat plan to play without a true center.
TRILLION WATCH: On the last night of the preseason, Indiana Pacers guard Ben Hansbrough registered a 5 trillion Friday at Chicago. That lack of effort tied Cleveland’s Kevin Jones for the “best” mark of the preseason. But the slate is wiped clean Tuesday, when the games start to count.
GAME OF THE WEEK: New York at Brooklyn, Nov. 1. Boy, that “at Brooklyn” sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? The first of four meetings between the retooled rivals, now separated by a bridge instead of a tunnel. Hopefully, thing will heat up the same way it did with the Lakers and Clippers.
GAME OF THE WEAK: Washington at Cleveland, Oct. 30. Everyone’s geeked up for Celts-Heat and Mavs-Lakers on TNT on Opening Night, but this is actually the first game of the season – the Wizards without John Wall vs. the Cavs without LeBron James.
TWO MINUTES: Lost in the swirl of Commissioner David Stern’s announcement that he is stepping down in 15 months was his take on star players still seeking out the larger markets despite some of the restrictions of the new collective bargaining agreement. “I am not as affected by it as you are,” Stern said. “I mean, even if you’re talking about Dwight Howard. He was drafted by Orlando. He spent seven years there and in lieu of the eighth, Orlando got five draft picks. That’s a pretty good system in my view. If Dwight Howard decides after seven years – which is longer than the average career in the NBA – that he’d like to be in another city, I think that’s a right for which he’s bargained.” … Speaking of Howard, if you were thinking he was going to stop being an occasional goofball now that he shares a locker room with ultra-competitve Kobe Bryant, think again. He told the media that he fully intends on playing practical jokes on his new teammates. “They’re definitely gonna get it,” he said. “I’ve got some stuff up my sleeve for these guys. They’ll all get a taste of my pranks.” … The book on Bobcats rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was that he has an erratic shot. In the preseason, he was 15-of-47 from the field. … It’s good to know the Nuggets held onto JaVale McGee this summer with a four-year, $44 million offer despite no other team chasing the quirky 7-footer. It turns out Denver may be paying its backup center $11 million this season. Coach George Karl said Kosta Koufos has the edge over McGee and Timofey Mozgov to start in the middle. … No team has ever gone winless in the preseason and won the championship. The Lakers went 0-8. “We’re gonna worry about our record when it counts,” Steve Nash said. Apparently. … The Nets found out what most Brooklynites already know: Although Brooklyn is geographically part of Long Island, it’s not really part of Long Island. The Nets played a preseason game in Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, their home during their ABA glory days. The lower bowl was overrun with Knicks fans, and the Nets were booed during introductions. In 2015, the Coliseum also is losing the NHL’s Islanders to the Barclays Center, the Nets’ new home in Brooklyn. … Has the NBA finally moved past the Malice at the Palace? It has been nearly eight years since that ugly night in Auburn Hills, when players went into the stands to fight fans – and fans came onto the court to fight players, who developed a collective wariness about fan interaction thereafter. When the Heat played the Bobcats in Raleigh, N.C. this week, fans swarmed the exit tunnel after the final buzzer to get autographs or a closer look at LeBron James as he left the floor. James said he was not the least bit concerned. “It’s fine,” he said. “I think it’s cool. The fans are really excited to get an opportunity to see us and their Bobcats. That was a very humbling experience just now with all the fans coming on the floor.”
Trivia Answer: Smush Parker with 13 points. … Happy 25th Birthday, Wayne Ellington. … Before he gets too excited, someone tell Adam Silver he is 16 months away from being accused of a conspiracy.
Chris Bernucca is the deputy editor of SheridanHoops.com. His columns appear Monday during the season. You can follow him on Twitter.