It's NBA time. There's a double-header on TNT tonight and I'm going to watch. I'm pumped.
But for how long?
That's the question of the day. There are some intriguing storylines, though, that might keep my interest:
* Hate the Heat. Yes, hate is a strong word. And it's normally not right to hate anyone or anything. But I'm giving you permission to hate the Heat, so go with it.
Miami is loaded, we know. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh. It's a star-studded team expected to cruise toward 70 wins.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Chicago and Orlando are the Eastern Conference teams that could get in Miami's way. Maybe even Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta. It doesn't have to be a Heat walk-over.
* Oklahoma City is thunderous. Kevin Durant and company pushed the Lakers to the brink in the playoffs last season. A year older and a year wiser, Durant is the league's most marketable player in its least marketable city. But OKC has fallen in love with this team and that love is spreading. There's a buzz about the Thunder that reaches to the south, east, west and north, right here to Wichita where basketball fans are talking about the NBA in ways they've never talked about it before.
* The Boston Celtics need an oil can. How can Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen get through another season on their creaky legs? Add to the mix Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal and you have the NBA's version of "Cocoon."
Boston does have spry point guard Rajon Rondo, but the Celtics are walking that fine line between the riches of experience and the spoils of age.
* There's a new Wall in Washington. Point guard John Wall, who spent one season at Kentucky, will be one of the league's most exciting rookies and a source of optimism for a franchise that needs all it can get.
Wall is one of several rookies who should make an impact and breathe some new life into the league. Others are Blake Griffin (LA Clippers), Evan Turner (Philadelphia), Wesley Johnson (Minnesota), Derrick Favors (New Jersey), James Anderson (San Antonio), DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento), Gordon Hayward (Utah), Larry Sanders (Milwaukee) and Jordan Crawford (Atlanta).
* There are unhappy campers in Denver and New Orleans. Carmelo Anthony might not be long for the Nuggets and point guard Chris Paul has made it clear he doesn't want to be part of a loser with the Hornets. Stay tuned on those two.
* The Lakers are flying under the radar. Or is that even possible for a two-time defending champion?
Los Angeles has arguably made itself even better with the additions of Matt Barnes and Steve Blake. Kobe Bryant is as driven to win as any player in the league. Andrew Bynum continues to improve. And even though Phil Jackson doesn't always know what he's going to get out of Lamar Odom and Ron Artest, they're on the same page often enough to be productive.
And what about Jackson? Does he get the credit he deserves for winning 11 championships?
True, six of those titles came with Michael Jordan on board in Chicago. And five are from his time in LA with Shaq and Kobe (three rings) and then just Kobe (two more).
But I don't think it's easy to coach superstars on teams that are expected to win. I think Jackson's demeanor is perfect for star-studded teams because he lets those stars be stars.
* Poor Cleveland. No more LeBron James. No more championship hopes. Instead, the Cavaliers are almost a lock to miss the playoffs and play in front of a half-empty arena on certain nights.
It makes me sad.
The rebuilding starts with Byron Scott as the coach. Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams are the building blocks. The last team to go first-to-worst in the Eastern Conference was the 1999 Chicago Bulls, their first year without Jordan. The Bulls will probably welcome a new member to that exclusive group.
* David Stern is talking. And not just about how wonderful his league is, although he's always talking about that.
Stern, the NBA commissioner, is talking about cutting player salaries and the potential of contraction in the face of, he says, dwindling revenues.
Meetings between the owners and player's union, who are attempting to avert a work stoppage, should be saucy as the two sides try to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement.
* Yao Ming is back. And that's great news not just for the Houston Rockets, but the league. The Chinese superstar missed almost all of last season with an injury and if he can stay healthy, the Rockets might be a factor. If they are, it helps with Stern's priority of globalization, especially in China.
* Surprise, surprise . Can there be a surprise?
The Milwaukee Bucks were one last season. With center Andrew Bogut back and healthy, they might actually challenge the Bulls in the Eastern Conference's Central Division.
Can Blake Griffin, out all last season, help the Los Angeles Clippers make a playoff run?
Can Doug Collins, back on the bench as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, get more out of that team?
Will the New York Knicks or New Jersey Nets make a move forward, or continue to be two of the worst teams in the NBA?
It all starts tonight. How long will it hold my interest?