Column: Flashback to a better NBA

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 7, 2006

John Focke, Behind the mic

Sometimes it’s a smell that will conjure up memories from long ago. Like the smell of hotdogs on the grill which can automatically transport you from your backyard to Wrigley Field 10 years ago when you saw Ryan Sandberg hit three homers in one game.

Other times it can be a song that opens the floodgates to your memory. I had such an experience last weekend involving a ring tone. (Technology is an amazing thing.) I was at the store when I heard, what I later researched to be John Tesh’s &8220;Roundball Rock,&8221; the opening to the NBA on NBC theme song.

Growing up, the NBA was (and still is) my favorite sport, and not having cable, the NBA was on NBC each weekend. I lived for that music which would introduce host Bob Costas, and later Hannah Storm, Peter Vecsey, Pat O’Brien (before the weird phone-sex scandal) and eventually the greatest announcing tandem of all time; Marv Albert (before the weird biting women scandal) and Mike Fratello.

To me this was the golden age of the NBA. Magic was HIV-negative and Bird was wearing a back brace but they could still play. Jordan, Barkley and Dominique where establishing themselves, the Pistons Bad Boy’s led by Isaiah where still strong, and there were some fierce rivalries.

I can remember watching the playoffs on my 6 inch black and white TV in my room (when I was supposed to be doing homework-sorry Mom and Dad) and trying to figure out why Dennis Rodman had the phrase &8220;Trilogy III&8221; shaved into the back of his head. I still haven’t been able to figure it out.

This was the era of &8220;The Jordan Rules,&8221; those great Bulls-Knicks playoff series, ‘Nique and Bird in one of the most amazing one on one duels ever, Jordan, Spud Webb and Dominique dominating the slam dunk contest.

The time of awesome nick-names &045; Air Jordan, The Mailman, The Round Mound of Rebound, The Worm, The Glove, The Reign Man, The Human Highlight Film. Well you get the idea.

By the time I jumped back to reality and realized the lady behind the counter had been asking &8216;paper or plastic’ for the past five minutes, another thought jumped to my head. We are in a very similar era right now. Shaq, KG, Kobe, Iverson, and Duncan, these guys are the cagey vets. Lebron, Melo, Wade are just establishing themselves.

There are good rivalries again in the Eastern Conference as well as the West, and with the playoffs just around the corner the intensity will be amped up even more.

Now as I have been humming &8216;Roundball Rock’ (let’s just refer to it as NBA on NBC) all week and trying to purchase it for my cell phone, imagine my surprise on Tuesday when it was announced that my two favorite players ever, Charles Barkley and Dominique Wilkins, were being inducted into the Hoops Hall of Fame.

The NBA: It’s fantastic!