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Mudville Pays Respects to the NBA for Avoiding a labor Dispute

Column by David Berl
and Jeremy Cohen
Sports Columnists

After a sad lull in the sports world, at last newspaper pages are packed with action from stadiums instead of negotiating tables. As a tribute to the one major sport which has avoided a major labor dispute this season, we in Mudville will pay our respects to the David Stern marketing bonanza, the National Basketball Association, which completes its first round of playoffs later this week.

We begin in the wild, wild West where as many as five teams have a legitimate chance to have their ring fingers sized this June. However, we give the nod to San Antonio Spurs whose superior defensive intensity, rebounding excellence, and consistent offense spawned a league best 62 wins over the course of the regular season. Bob Hill's Alamodomers should easily dispose of the once-pesky Denver Nuggets, and will meet the talented Seattle Supersonics in the second round.

The Sonics' guard play is superior, but the disappearance of Kendall "Fish" Gill has left coach George "Snarl" Karl with a shaky perimeter. Meanwhile, the Admiral David Robinson and his first mate Dennis "Windex" Rodman should swab the decks with the undermanned Sonic frontcourt.

The Spurs conference final opponents will be Sir Chuckster's Phoenix Suns. The Suns will have a difficult second round battle with the defending champion Houston Rockets. While Phoenix bowed out to Houston in seven games last year, we in Mudville detect faults in the Rocket's guidance system.

Since the trade of Otis "Do I have anything to do with the football award, Mr. Tagliabue?" Thorpe to the Blazers, Houston has been thoroughly dominated on the board. Hakeem Olajuwon is the best basketball player on earth, which obviously does not include Mars Blackman but does, of course, include Seventy-Sixer assistant coach World B. Free and "Save the world, save a" Tree Rollins, but not even the Nigerian Dream can take on all of Phoenix's weapons alone.

In the Western Conference finals, the Suns lack of size will again be their undoing. Even with a healthy Danny Manning, Paul "Kruschev predicted a" Westphal's Suns would have been outmuscled in the paint by Rodman, Robinson, and the always intimidating Vinnie Del Negro. Without the former Kansas All-American the series may not last six games and Charles Barkley will be sent into his eighth straight premature retirement, and will soon be seen campaigning to be the worst Alabama governor since George "I couldn't hit a three, either" Wallace.

Eastern Region

In the East, Reggie Miller annually declares the Playoffs "Miller Time" and this year should be no different. His Pacers look primed for a championship run, with the most fluid teamwork in the NBA. Their outstanding coaching and stifling defense will carry them all the way to the NBA finals.

After disposing of the Atlanta Hawks in the first round the Pacers figure to cross paths with Spike Lee and the Knicks in a rematch of last year's brutal Conference finals.

The outcome will be different this year, as the improved Rik "Marist recruits in Holland" Smits will outplay the hobbled Patrick Ewing. Also the addition of former Knick playmaker Mark Jackson will bolster a Pacers offense down the stretch, leaving Spike Lee ready for the Heimlich maneuver yet again.

The Pacers opposition in the Eastern finals ought to be the rejuvenated Chicago Bulls. With Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and a hot Toni Kukoc, the Bulls playoff savvy will prove too formidable for the injury-stricken Charlottle Hornets in the first round and the inexperienced and slumping Orlando Magic in the second.

Although Chicago will certainly be overmatched on the interior by the likes of Alonzo Mourning "After" and Shaquille O'Neal and the aforementioned Rollins, the triple oaf combination of Luc Longley, Bill "The Big Leprechaun" Wennington and Will "Can't hope to stop him, just try to contain him" Perdue has been surprisingly productive and will have plenty of fouls to give against the anemic foul-shooting O'Neal.

We are already trembling in anticipation of the longest awaited matchup of two superstars since King Kong Bundy squared off against Hulk Hogan in Wrestlemania, the battle of trash-talker and Mendoza line dweller, Reggie Miller and Michael Jordan.

Once again Miller's fine supporting cast, which includes strongman Dale Davis, shot blocker Antonio Davis and veteran shooter Byron Scott, will be the difference as Smits, and the Davises will display an inside dominance rivaling that of the Detroit Pistons, who incidentally knocked Jordan's Bulls out of the playoffs five years ago.

NBC surely will be disappointed with a finals matchup of two small market teams, but the San Antonio-Indiana series should be an exciting one. In the end, the Spurs will ride homefield advantage to victory, earning enough extra cash to finally get Dennis Rodman spayed. Most Valuable Player David Robinson and the underrated outside shooting of Del Negro and the Rifleman, Chuck Person, will make Indiana suffer through the extra possessions that the ferocious Rodman affords them.

Trivia

Disappointingly, none of our fine readers knew that quarterback Marc Hermann was dealt to the Baltimore Colts from the Denver Broncos before the 1983 NFL draft. In lieu of a legitimate winner, our heartfelt congratulations and warmth go out to sadly departing MIT Provost Mark S. Wrighton, who has truly touched both of our lives.

One can only imagine this week's question coming from the mouth of the new Washington University Chancellor, "The 1983 Philadelphia Seventy Sixers won the NBA championship. Their starting lineup included Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Andrew Toney, Maurice Cheeks and what forward?" Send answers to: bell@mit.edu.