Let's talk some more hoops   

Updated: February 15, 2007, 9:56 AM ET

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In Thursday's column, we admitted (well, I sorta did) that we are about to be obsessed with basketball (well, I sorta am) for the next five months the same way Eddie Murphy seems to be obsessed with playing fat characters in movies.

If the first 15 were the appetizer, then here's the entrée for Norbit's wife, Rasputia.

The Second 15

• The A.I./Melo Thing (Part 1). Will they get along? Can they coexist? Can they both score 30 and win? Everyone will continue to miss the point. If Bubba and Melo average 30 apiece (which they probably will) and not make the playoffs, it won't be on them. The burden to make it work in Denver is on George Karl. See, it's Melo and A.I.'s job to make it happen, it's Karl's job to make it work.

• The A.I./Melo Thing (Part 2). If anyone is "concerned" about the relationship between A.I. and Melo, watch how Allen stretches this injury out and pulls out of the All-Star Game to make sure Carmelo gets the chance to do what he should have been doing in the first place: hoopin' in the Thomas and Mack a week from Sunday.

• Shaq getting mad and playing like its 1999. He will bring back the pain like he's 28 again (or like he did for two games against the Bulls in last year's playoffs), putting up those 23/10 numbers that everyone thought he couldn't anymore. But it probably won't be enough for the champs to repeat. But it might be enough to put them back (at least) into the Eastern Conference finals.

• Kevin Love of Lake Oswego, Ore., being named USA Today High School Player of the Year. So Eric Gordon (North Central HS, Indianapolis) is a beast and Derrick Rose (Simeon HS, Chicago) is sic and O.J. Mayo is still that dude regardless of what I wrote Thursday, but K-Love is about to handle his business in the Northwest and walk away with the national MVP.

• Mike Conley Jr. vs. D.J. Augustin. At some point in the NCAA Tournament these two guards from Ohio State and Texas have to meet. I don't know if Myles Brand has DJS powers to make assurances that certain things will happen, but if he does he needs to exercise his juice and make sure an almost legendary battle between these two go down. It'll be like Steph and A.I. in the '95-96 season, when Marbury was a freshman and Iverson a sophomore. But this one will be better.

• The Western Conference final four will be better than the real final four (if these four teams get through). Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio and Houston will be the two best seven-game series seen in over a decade. The intensity, passion, hunger and desire to get a ring, combined with a skill level only grown men getting paid to play possess, will easily bring those people who "hate" the NBA back.

• The Lakers being that one team no one wants to face in the first round of the playoffs. They could be the team to stop that historic final four from happening. Phil's in the final year of his contract, LO is back and Kobe has to live down last year's Game 7 against Phoenix. Think it can't happen?

• CBS embracing hip-hop through Talib Kweli. For two years Black Star's better half dropped gems for the Big Ten during the season to promote the conference. The spots were so nice, look for CBS execs to recognize their power and ask him to repeat the flow for a national audience during The Dance.

• Maya Moore's last high school game. Before the 6-foot-1 forward from Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, Ga., gets to Geno Auriemma and gives him the same kind of "awakening" that Candace is giving Pat in Tennessee, the sweet Georgia brown (frame) is going to put on a show that might make the WNBA implement an age requirement.

• A fight in an NBA game between two white players. If Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith can make history in the NFL then so can non-African-Americans in the NBA. It seems like the image problem The League has been having has been singular, an unshared responsibility, an exclusive club. White men can't jump? Well, it seems like they can't get mad at each other either (or at least they are smart enough not to do it in public when the cameras are rolling). But that's gonna change. Two of the minority will lose control. One punch thrown, no contact. They won't be called "thugs" -- instead, they'll be called trend setters. And the NBA will never be the same.

• The Jordan XX2, D-Wade's Converse 2.0 and Nike AF25 Premium all hit the streets around the same time. It's going to be interesting to see which shoe comes out on top. In basketball (and in the shoe game) the release of the new Jordans has always been major, and it's never been challenged. But this year the XX2 is going to have direct retail competition. The AF25 has history and another Wieden and Kennedy "classick" commercial, the Wade 2.0 has the shoeheads (and even some NBA players) saying this shoe could be his Jordan III moment, the one that begins an era. Pay attention, this could be more intriguing than "Grey's Anatomy" going up against "CSI" at the beginning of the TV season.

• The homophobic reaction to John Amaechi saying he's gay. There won't be one.

• D-Wade will make second-team all-defense. This is what's going to begin the process of him really being considered the "next" Jordan. What he did in the Finals last year was Step 1. What he's doing on the court this year has been Step 2. And once he gets the official recognition as a defensive threat (one that LeBron, Melo and Nash don't have, and one Kobe seems to be losing) it's only going to be a matter of time (like the beginning of next season) before the man who can't get in Charles Barkley's five will be considered without peer -- and hold the title as the best player alive not named Michael Jordan.

• Isiah Thomas actually receiving Coach of The Year votes. The fact that Eddy Curry backed him like he did helps, but the honesty of the situation in New York will sink in as the season goes on. The Knicks will push for a playoff spot and writers will respect that. They will realize that Isiah was able to get more out of these players than Larry Brown. That alone will stand for something.

• Did I say Kevin Durant? My bad … KEVIN #$%@ DURANT!!!!

Scoop Jackson is a columnist for Page 2 and a contributor to ESPN The Magazine. He'll also be the host of ESPN Original Entertainment's "NBA Live: Bring It Home" which debuts on Feb. 11. Sound off to Scoop and Page 2 here.



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