Leave it to the NBA to solve its four-plus-months lockout at 3:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. If an NBA lockout ends, but nobody is awake to get the news, does it really happen?

 

The NBA was briefly in the news after the 139-day lockout ended Saturday morning, but then the public spent the rest of the day raking leaves and consuming college football. Everyone did the same Sunday, except the sport on TV was pro football.

 

The lockout has been over for days now, and nobody’s frothy about the season. I’m here to change that. Here are four reasons to be giddy about the shortened, 66-game 2011-2012 NBA season:

 

Jan Vesely’s debut, but more importantly, his girlfriend: The Washington Wizards drafted a rail thin, 21-year-old, 6-foot-11 Czech. When he was announced at the draft, he stood up with his girlfriend and everyone took notice. She quickly became Internet famous. She’s about 6-foot-8 and don’t rule out her appearing in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. The Wizards will surely do their best to make sure she’s at most games.

 

Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Deron Williams: The trio are all among the 15 best players in the NBA and are all likely to be on the move either during the season or at the end of it. Chris Paul seems to want to play in New York. (New Yorkers would be in the same boat.) Dwight Howard just wants to play for a contender (the Magic have faded badly the last two years). Deron Williams could lure Howard to New Jersey, soon-to-be Brooklyn. We do have a given: At least one of these guys ends up playing for the Lakers.

 

The Dallas Mavericks are the center of the Universe. But not in the way you think. Yes, they won the title last year, and are poised to repeat (good luck without Tyson Chandler). More importantly, two of their players have ties to Miss Universe contestants. Rudy Fernandez is dating

Helen Lindes, aka Miss Spain 2000 (second runner-up in the Miss Universe competition). JJ Barea is engaged to Zuleyka Rivera (Miss Universe, 2006).



Angry Kevin Durant:
One of the biggest NBA stories this summer was that clean-cut scoring machine Kevin Durant is heavily tatted-up. He took off his jersey at a game in China and his entire chest was full of ink. The media referred to them as “business tattoos.” This led people to believe Durant has an edge and is not to be trifled with. I’ll take the Thunder to win the title.

– Jason Raj McIntyre covers athletes off the field and runs the popular blog, The Big Lead.

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