by Lang Whitaker

There’s an Italian restaurant in my neighborhood in Manhattan that I’m completely convinced is the best restaurant in the world. It’s small, noisy, cash-only, and I was convinced it would remain my little secret until it was mentioned in friggin’ GQ a year ago; now there’s a line out the door most nights. (Well, unless you know someone — ahem!)

I showed up Friday night after work to meet Wifey for dinner, and I found Carmine, the owner of the place. As he squeezed me in the door, he gripped my shoulder and told me that it was going to be a bad night. His car had been broken into earlier in the day, and then while setting up for dinner, someone at the restaurant had knocked over six bottles of wine.

This restaurant is where I have been on many big occasions, from birthdays to anniversaries, and it’s also where I was the night Ron Artest began the Brawl For It All in Detroit. And I was just digging into my salad on Friday night when I got the text that the NBA players were suing the NBA.

To me, this is a big deal, a huge story. So I hustled through dinner and walked home to read about it and see what the deal was. I wrote a post but…nobody else had written anything.

Wait, the NBA players are SUING DAVID STERN and nobody writes anything about this? Chris “The Machine” Sheridan finally got something up about it on Friday night, but aside from the main AP story that everyone ran, it didn’t seem to cause a stir.

Maybe that was because of the timing of the announcement of the suit: Friday night, after everyone’s gone home for the weekend (both sportswriters and sports readers), and on the biggest college football weekend thus far this season. Don’t know why they didn’t wait until today or tomorrow just to drum up a little more buzz. (And why the players didn’t know it was going to happen, either?)

And after speaking to a few NBA-related people this weekend, I’ll stand by my original post that there’s not really any way the players can win these suits. Best thing that happens is somehow they get to go back to the old ball and in the court of public opinion they manage not to look like whiny, overpaid millionaires.

Anyway…what else is going on? How about ESPN’s Daily dime today, which has Greg Anthony fawning over the Magic, the morning after they were blown out by the Clippers.

Anthony goes on to say that Utah, Seattle and Portland are not easy places to win on the road. He’s right about Utah — they’re 9-1 at home this season; probably that nuclear stuff — but Portland and Seattle are a combined 7-13 at home thus far. Compounding things, Portland’s lost 4 straight at home and Seattle’s 1-3 in their last 4 at home. The Hawks beat Portland last night in Portland, and they play at Seattle tomorrow night.

By the way, I watched that Blazers/Hawks game last night, and it’s comforting to see Zach Randolph back to his old self: able to score in the post whenever he wants, getting double-digit rebounds…and still shooting over double teams. Zach kept them close for most of the game, but in the fourth quarter the Blazers completely went away from him.

I also liked that Sergio Rodriguez dude, because he’s able to dish that ball while being constantly on the verge of getting called for a travel. Almost every time he brought the ball up he’d shuffle his feet or take a wild dribble or something. Anyway, he played great last night, finishing with 11 assists.

Let’s hit it…

QUOTES OF THE DAY
“When you go through a stretch of losing games, you’re looking for the right answer. We’re still searching for answers. Certainly, making shots would help.” — Mo Cheeks.

“We’ve got to find ways to get me the ball. I know that’s kind of selfish, but something has to happen. The organization needs to find out which way it wants to go, you know what I’m saying? I think Coach understands what I can do. It just has to be clear between the organization and coach.” — Ron Artest.

THE LINKS…
• How bad are things in Philly right now? Mo Cheeks is playing Andre Iguodala at the point. He knows Iggy can’t, like, dribble and stuff, right?

• Did Dale Davis call the Miami cops rednecks? Come on Dale, you’re from north Georgia yourself.

• Ben Wallace has made Tyrus Thomas his personal chauffeur. I hope he makes him wear a black suit and hat, too.

• Funny notes on how the Hawks travel on their West Coast swing, particularly how they enjoy hitting L.A. Can’t believe Sekou didn’t mention a few yeras ago when then-assistant coach Rick Mahorn couldn’t connect on his promise to get everyone into a party at…well, never mind.

• The Mavs are in the midst of the quietest 12 game win streak in history.

• Is trouble brewing in Sacto?

• Bob Johnson is refusing to talk to the Charlotte Observer, and the Observer isn’t happy about it.

• Why is Tony Parker the anti-Christ in Argentina?

• Joe Smith’s top five horror movies of all time.

• If he wasn’t in the NBA, Memo Okur would want to be a policeman.

• It’s Scalabrine time! Calm down, Jake. (Or maybe it’s not Scalabrine time.)

• Could the Nets become one of those rotation-less teams?

• For Toronto, .500 isn’t so far away. What happened to that stuff about them going 82-0?