Imagine if this game were being played not in the first few days of 2008, but in the first few days of 1971. Your Miami Heats Dwyane Wade would be tucked away in an ovary somewhere, 11 years before his birth. Shaq also would be single-celled, fully six months away from being conceived. Pat Riley would be scoring five points per game for the Lakers, a year away from winning his first NBA title as a player. And the Milwaukee Bucks, who with scant exception have sucked since the late Eighties, would have Lew Alcindor and Oscar Robertson throwing down 50 points a game between them, rocking the NBA on their way to the fastest expansion-team title in the history of major American sports.
For better or worse, this game will be played in the now. Wade has gone from hypothetical to tangible to unstoppable to unreliable an issue not of character but of joints and Shaq is too big to fit in any uterus anywhere in the animal kingdom. Alcindor is known as Abdul-Jabbar and is probably on a no-fly list despite having behaved himself admirably during his brief role on Airplane! And these days, Michael Redd leads the Bucks in scoring. Hes no Big O, but then, if he were, hed be nearly 70. See young men in their prime at the American Airlines Arena at 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 2, 7:30 p.m., 2008