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|Stephen Curry and Dwyane Wade are superstars on their respective levels.|
I am heading out to Denver to call the Heat-Nuggets game. ESPN is switching announcers for one night, and the NBA broadcasters will be calling the Davidson-Duke game.
It should be loads of fun to see Dwyane Wade, a guy I labeled as a diaper dandy when he was a collegian. As I've told many media members, he is no longer a diaper dandy, but a Rolls-Royce superstar at the next level and in life.
Wade hasn't forgotten where he came from and gives back to help others. Around Christmas, Wade helped out a family in need whose house burned down. He made it a special holiday for them by going out and giving them keys to a new home.
I was hoping to see another great young player in Carmelo Anthony, but then came bad news late Monday night. The former Syracuse player suffered a hand injury that will sideline him for at least three weeks.
Nuggets coach George Karl will need someone else to step up, and I expect point guard Chauncey Billups to take more shots. He is a mature player whose return to Colorado in the Allen Iverson deal rejuvenated the Nuggets.
Carmelo is another guy who hasn't forgotten where he comes from. He made a big-time donation to Syracuse University to help the Orange build a practice facility. Wade and Anthony remember where they came from, and they care about people. They are superstars on and off the court, and played vital roles in helping the USA bring the Olympic gold medal back to American soil.It is more than just a scoring touch that makes these guys special.
The last time I did an NBA game was more than two decades ago. I'm sure that some people out there don't remember me doing pro basketball games, but I did.
My friends, basketball is basketball. It is still about hitting a 3-pointer behind the line and making 2-point baskets in front of it. A free throw is still worth one point. Yes, some rules have changed, but the NBA game features the greatest athletes ever in any sport. I don't care which sport you want to talk about, these are big men performing like ballerinas in shorts. Their agility and mobility is incredible.
I am looking forward to having a blast. Believe me, nothing will change as this is another exciting event added to the many I've had the thrill and privilege to work at.
I also can't wait to see Coach Karl. He has been such a positive help for us with the Jimmy V Foundation. Karl is a member of the President's Club, since he has donated $50,000. He is a cancer survivor, so he knows how important it is to lend a helping hand.
I am also looking forward to seeing Michael Beasley, who was one-and-done at Kansas State. He was brilliant in college, and he has a bright future. Beasley is coming off the bench now and isn't logging the same minutes as Derrick Rose and O.J. Mayo, but ultimately Beasley will be a positive force. He still must learn shot selection and the ability to play with focus and intensity on the defensive side.
Shawn Marion is an explosive wing player and an asset for the Heat. Miami has really improved from last year, already passing the 15 wins of a season ago.
I will get to talk about my Hall of Fame classmate Pat Riley, the architect of the Miami franchise. Erik Spoelstra has done a tremendous job getting this Miami team to play on the defensive side.
It will be fun to see a number of players I watched in college. What about Mario Chalmers, the ex-Jayhawk who hit the shot people in Memphis would prefer to forget about to win last year's national championship for Kansas. Chalmers was a Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk star and he has been a solid performer as a second-round choice, starting at the point guard slot for the Heat. There is no doubt he was a steal and should have gone in the first round. Credit Riley and his people for the coup.
I am so excited to talk about these Rolls-Royce superstars. The NBA has the greatest athletes of any sport, night in and night out. I can't wait to get to Rocky Mountain country, baby!
Basketball Hall of Famer Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, contributes columns to ESPN.com.
Don't get me wrong: The Duke atmosphere is a big reason I'm so excited, but it darn well isn't the only reason. This game is going to feature a great basketball team in Duke against an amazing basketball player in Stephen Curry.
Let's take a look at Duke first. This is one of the most consistent teams in the country since Coach K stepped foot on campus. This year's team is deep and athletic, and it competes night in and night out. The Blue Devils are flying under the radar a bit this year because of how good ACC rival North Carolina looks, but Duke has a team that could surprise some people and take the ACC championship and win another national championship.
I'm impressed with how this team embraces the team philosophy. Last year's starting point guard, Greg Paulus, is backing up a young guard this season in Nolan Smith, and Paulus hasn't chirped at all about this change. He knows that he is still an important cog in this team's chances to win and that the move was the best one for the team. That attitude is indicative of how Duke's players know getting the win is the most important thing at the end of the game.
Now let's talk about Curry. I have to issue a small disclaimer because I knew this young man when he was a child and played with his father Dell in Toronto. Back then, Stephen was a really good shooter and you knew he would be good a player down the road, but there was no way to know we were watching a kid who one day would be arguably the best collegiate player in the country.
Curry is a special player who has proved he isn't afraid of the spotlight. I believe he has an awfully bright future as a point guard in the league because he makes quality decisions and has the ability to flourish in either a movement-based system or a point-guard-dominant system where he would use the pick-and-roll more. That's because of his quickness and amazing ability to shoot.
Coming into the season, a lot of people doubted whether he could play point and were skeptical of his ability to translate to the next level, but I see those doubts being washed away more and more after each game. He has proved he has a great work ethic and will do whatever he can to play and be a great player. Also, he knows firsthand what it takes to be an NBA player, and his smooth transition to the point guard position this season is proving that he will put in the work.Mark Jackson is an ESPN analyst.