VINCE CARTER, Nets: If he plays all out in spite of minor injuries, his many skeptics will become fans again.
5 Defining Rivalries
NETS VS. KNICKS: New York has more money, media, fans, tradition and celebrities; New Jersey has better players.
BERMUDA TRIANGLE (Pacers vs. Heat vs. Pistons): Three evenly matched contenders in pursuit of the Eastern Conference title; all challengers enter this zone at their own risk.
NATE MCMILLAN VS. THE SONICS: If the Blazers' coach can rally his new troops and consistently knock off his former team, a new Northwest feud will be born.
OKLAHOMA CITY VS. BATON ROUGE: By playing home games in both Oklahoma and Louisiana, the Katrina-displaced Hornets raise two significant questions. 1) Which is the team's rightful headquarters? 2) Does anyone really care?
CLASSIC PINSTRIPE SUIT VS. THROWBACK JERSEY AND 'DO-RAG COMBO: The players are griping far too much about the dress code instituted by commissioner David Stern, bringing the NBA's culture wars to a new low.
All-Dirty Work Team
You won't find a current or future All-Star on this roster, yet a team of these hard-nosed types would challenge for a playoff berth by defending, running the floor and playing unselfish basketball every night.