The NBA… It’s Fan-Tas-Tic!! (Feb. 19)

by Bill Neal, For New Pittsburgh Courier

:10—Kobe, Kobe, Kobe… Needless to say it still seems like a dream, still feels unreal. Like it never happened. But it did happen and it is real and the NBA has stepped up big time to make sure the world is reminded: Kobe Bryant was the best of the NBA and he was “Fan-Tas-Tic!!!”

:09—For the record, I’ve often said, and I contend that the greatest athletes on the planet bar none, are NBA players. When you have to run forward, backward, sideways, jump, slide, start, stop, rebound, pass, catch, shoot, and have to make the decision to all these things in a matter of seconds…C’mon man!

:08—Going in I can tell you I am not overly concerned about the final score of the NBA All-Star Game. I am coming to you from the Windy City and there’s a thousand things on the to do list before game time. Here’s just a few — #1. Par-tay… Par-tay… Par-tay!  #2. The NBA “Give Back Program.” Big money donations to numerous community charities.  #3. Photo and autograph sessions for kids of all ages.  #4. Rookie game, legends, big-time celebs… #5. And of course, the Slam Dunk Contest. Still good, still worth the effort. This year’s “King of the Dunk”—Derrick Jones Jr. of the Miami Heat. (Who?)

:07—Let me make this clear and simple. There is no difference between Shoeless Joe, Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens or the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox. Either everybody’s in or everybody’s out.

:06—Speaking of sports—and that’s why you’re reading this—”Champions Live Sports Talk Show” is back! Come join the fun every other Monday at The Walnut Grill in Fox Chapel, 6 to 8 p.m. Call me to check the schedule and celebrity guests (412-628-4856).

:05—Now here’s my partner “Tim Terrific” to update you on your Pittsburgh Penguins… ‘cause I know nothing!!!  Tim: “Thanks, Bill…with a game in hand the Pens find themselves one point behind the Washington Capitals for the overall lead in the Metropolitan Division and now, with the best goaltending combo in the NHL with Tristan Jarry and Matt Murray, the Pens are poised for a deep run in the playoffs and have as good a chance of winning the Stanley Cup as any team that will be in the playoffs, provided, of course, the main components, Crosby, Malkin and LeTang, stay fully healthy through the playoffs. Another Cup looms in our future, remember where ya heard it first. Back to you, Bill.”

:04—BTW, did I mention pitchers and catchers reported to spring training last week? That being said, we’ll get back to ya and let you know what we’ve got. And by that I mean our complete payroll will be about $6 million dollars more than Gerrit Cole’s salary this season. I’m just sayin’.

:03—Speaking of basketball, let’s be reminded that we also lost Commissioner David Stern. My brief encounter with Mr. Stern—on the phone with him for all of “3” minutes to invite him to Pittsburgh for the Connie Hawkins Hall of Fame salute back in the day. Quite the gentleman but he couldn’t make it. But did send his best to the Hawk!

:02—Okay, this just in—final score of the NBA All-Star game from Sunday night—Team LeBron 157, Team Giannis 155, with Kawhi Leonard a very deserving MVP. By the way, the All-Star Game MVP is now named for the late Kobe Bryant.

:01—Don’t worry, I won’t ket you down. The most important thing you have to do in your life—Vote, Vote, Vote Trump out. You can put in Fred Flintstone if you want… just get him out!

:00—My All-Time NBA 1st Team — C. Wilt Chamberlain  F. Julius Erving   F. LeBron James   G. Michael Jordan    G. Magic Johnson — My All-Time NBA 2nd Team —  C. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar   F. Larry Bird   F. Tim Duncan   G. Kobe Bryant   G. Oscar Robertson — My All-Time NBA 3rd Team — C. Bill Russell   F. Elvin Hayes   F. Karl Malone   G. John Stockton   G. Jerry West



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