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Let's hit the road

NBA dream trips, Artest's bomb, funny money & more

Posted: Wednesday November 15, 2006 1:01PM; Updated: Wednesday November 15, 2006 3:56PM
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Scoping the NBA ... three bullet points at a time.

David Stern poses with our new friends -- the Maloof brothers -- and some ladies we hope to befriend while in Vegas.
David Stern poses with our new friends -- the Maloof brothers -- and some ladies we hope to befriend while in Vegas.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Among the things in this world that truly make me happy are attending NBA games in person and taking long rides in the '93 Nissan Altima my late grandmother left me. So when the fine SI.com producers asked me to create a dream NBA road trip, I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn't want to get paid to travel the country and watch pro hoops? Soon thereafter, they clarified that I wouldn't actually be going on this trip; it's just for research purposes. Nevertheless, if I had a bigger bank account, no job and the NBA schedule to guide me, here are three trips I'd consider:

Texas three-step: This one is a no-brainer. The Lone Star State boasts three of the NBA's top teams and makes for a fairly easy trip. We'd go in February because Texas is one of the few places where the weather is tolerable that time of year. Our first stop would be Feb. 20 in San Antonio for Spurs-Nuggets to see for ourselves whether Nene can stop Tim Duncan and justify his absurd $60 million contract ... unless he's injured again. The next night, it's off to Houston for Rockets-Heat for the Yao-Shaq matchup. No rest for the weary; the next night we're off to Dallas for the Heat-Mavs Finals rematch. Hopefully, the Mavs won't sleepwalk through this game as they did in the final four games last season.

All-Star tour: If we have the option of attending any game, you can bet your Zydrunas Ilgauskas that we're going to Las Vegas for this season's All-Star Game on Feb. 18. But why limit ourselves? The Thursday before, the league's two best players -- Kobe Bryant and LeBron James -- mix it up in Los Angeles. While in Vegas (a four-hour drive from LA), we intend to constantly complain about the lack of public funding for a basketball facility in Sacramento in hopes that one of the Maloof brothers will overhear our conversation and befriend us. From there, we'll ditch grandma's Altima and hop on the Maloof's private jet back to Sacramento for the Celtics-Kings matchup the following Tuesday (if we're not starting the Texas trip above).

Birthplace of basketball: The Knicks and Celtics may be a combined 3-12,  but these teams are due to rebound soon (when the Celtics have a roster of players who can legally drink and the last remnants of Isiah Thomas' bad contracts expire in New York). The perfect time to do the Northeast swing is in late December, when the snow is still pleasant and the holidays are around the corner. We'd start off at the world's most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks and Jazz meet Dec. 18. We'd enjoy a free night in the Big Apple before heading across the Hudson to New Jersey for Cavs-Nets on Dec. 20. After that, it's off to Boston for the Dec. 22 matchup between the Sixers and Celtics. The two-day break between games should give us plenty of time to visit the new and improved Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.

Out of bounds

Not all of the NBA's best action takes place on the court ...

• Former Cavalier Mark Price did what many of his peers do when their careers end -- he turned to coaching. Only Price didn't join the college ranks or start as an NBA assistant. Instead, he went to Australia to coach the expansion South Dragons. But after the team lost its first five games, Price abruptly quit. Even Jerry Tarkanian lasted 20 games in San Antonio before throwing in his well-chewed towel.

• After two weeks on the market, Ron Artest's debut album, My World, has sold a whopping 460 copies. That's right, 460 copies. Even the much-maligned Kevin Federline sold 6,485 copies of his debut album, Playing with Fire. Does that mean K-Fed is 14 times more popular than Artest?

• The story of the November 2004 brawl sparked by Artest and Ben Wallace has been told to death, but the saga finally appears to have some closure. According to the Chicago Tribune, the two were brought together by the Rev. Jesse Jackson after the Nov. 3 Bulls-Kings matchup. It's the first time the two have faced off since the melee in Detroit. After the game was finished and most of the Kings had left, Jackson brought Wallace to meet Artest for a sit-down. "It was good I got a chance to talk to [Wallace]," Artest said of the meeting.  "I always wanted to talk to him. To take a hit like that, not playing in the NBA a whole year, I was frustrated. It was good I had a chance to talk to him and finally say, 'What's up?' "

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