COMING OCTOBER 30, 2001
WELCOME RINGSIDE, ER, COURTSIDE FOR ANOTHER KNOCKOUT SEASON! ON THIS CARD YOU'LL FIND THE GREATEST MATCHUPS, DUELS AND CONFLICTS IN THE NBA!
DAVID STERN VS. MARK CUBAN
Giving new impact to the phrase Maverick owner, Cuban has taken on every NBA institution, including the omnipotent commish. Stern's response to various Cuban missiles last season was to level $505,000 in fines. "David gets to ding me every now and then," Cuban says. "If there are things that need to be addressed, you can be sure I will."
PETER VECSEY VS. CHARLES BARKLEY
They share airtime on TNT's studio show—and a distaste for each other. Vecsey has said that "any career move that gets Charles away from the Turner audience gets my seal of approval" and that Barkley is "Richard Jewell's body double." Sir Charles, who calls Vecsey a "nitwit," has retorted, "[I] can always lose weight, but he'll always be ugly."
NEW YORK KNICKS VS. PRICE OF TIX
After concluding an unremarkable season by losing in the first round of the 2001 playoffs, the Knicks failed to lure Chris Webber from Sacramento, instead landing... Clarence Weatherspoon. So, naturally, the team raised ticket prices by 7%. The average seat at Madison Square Garden, the most expensive ducat in sports, runs $100; two courtside will set you back $3,200. You think that bothers the brass? Hah! The team's sellout streak is going strong at 391 games.
ANDRE MILLER VS. OBSCURITY
Hi, I may play for the Cavaliers, who make Dockers seem flashy, but I'm the East's best point guard not named Jason Kidd.
CHARLOTTE VS. THE HORNETS
Once happily married, the parties are barreling toward divorce. In a June referendum voters roundly rejected paying for a new arena. Last month, in a covert courtship, team owners slipped into Louisville on their 727 charter.
JERRY KRAUSE VS. FREE AGENTS
Krause's tightfisted and ham-handed treatment of former stars has turned Chicago into Chernobyl for coveted free agents. Says Raptors center Antonio Davis, who considered signing with the Bulls last summer, "I went there with an open mind, but he ended up wasting our time."
SCOT POLLARD VS. CHEROKEE PARKS
Until a desperate team signs Dennis Rodman, these two frontcourtmen will vie for the mantle of MEP—Most Eccentric Player. Pollard, a Kings backup, paints his fingernails and experiments frequently with his hairstyle. Parks, a Spurs reserve, is swathed in a tapestry of tattoos, among them snakes, knives and the Statue of Liberty. "Scot's from San Diego, and maybe that's the look," Parks says. "My look's been going on since I was 18."
RILEY THEN VS. RILEY NOW
After guiding the Lakers to four titles in the '80s, Riley was on track to become one of the alltime great coaches. Since leaving L.A. in 1990, he has added no rings to his fingers, and his luster fades with each disappointing season. Last spring Miami was swept in the first round by Charlotte, losing three games by an average of 22.3 points. "I'm like a basketball coachaholic who's bottomed out," Riley conceded. "I need to do some deep searching."