by Vincent Thomas

Everything you read or everywhere you web-surf or listen, folks are predicting what’s going to happen by the end of the season. They give you Playoff picks, division and Conference winners, likely MVPs and ROYs — all that good stuff. But you expect more out of The Commish, so I’m giving you more. What follows are storylines, events, trends and moments that are bound to happen — and not just in the NBA — and dominate your conversations through the end of the regular season. SLAMdom, I present: The Immediate Future…

NOVEMBER

Nov. 9: During the first meeting of what will end up being the two Western Titans, the Rockets surprise us and slay the Lakers 108-86 at Staples. Four days earlier, the C’s Paul Pierce hung 35 on Ron Artest in a Rockets loss, to which Ron-Ron shrugged, “Sometimes that’s what happens when you check the most complete offensive player in the league. Y’all talk about No. 24, but Kobe couldn’t hold Truth’s jockstrap.” Kobe vowed revenge in this anticipated clash, but Ron straight-jackets him to 4-26 shooting, then punches him in the face during a late-game, loose-ball scrum. After the game, a fat-lipped Kobe says plainly, “March 11. It’s war.”

Nov. 24: Baron Davis and the surprising Clipps hit the Hornets over the head for their fifth straight win, leading CP3 to remark, “The league is really sleepin’ on the Clipps. They got twin towers down low, veteran guards, some really good young boys and maybe the best point in the league.” After reading this, Agent Zero, still injured and blogging in his pajamas, writes: “Baron?!! The best pg in the league?!!! Don’t get me wrong, Boom Dizzle is one of the best doin’ it, but he ain’t even the best pg to come out of L.A. We all know that’s me.” Things will get interesting.

Nov. 25: The struggling Cavs come to New York, with a disgruntled star (LeBron) facing scrutiny (flirtations with the NYC metro area) and embarrassment (the Knicks have a better record). Bron responds by dropping a career-high 67 for the Garden crowd, then walks off the court donning a Yankee-fitted. No one cares. Earlier that day Kanye West’s fourth studio album, 808s and Heartbreak, debuts. It’s a forward-thinking, obsessive, pop-opus that also happens to be teeth-grittingly annoying due to Ye’s torrent of auto-toned vocals. That afternoon, cable news shows interrupt with breaking news: Anton Antovox 216 — an artificial intelligence vocoder developed by disgruntled hip-hop fan Necko — beats Kanye West to death at his home in Hollywood Hills. Ye was listening to Daft Punk.

Nov. 30: With the first full month of the season coming to a close and a day after Boston beat Philly 100-92, Detroit drops Portland 100-87. Detroit — not Boston, not L.A., not New Orleans — takes the league’s best record into December.

DECEMBER

Dec. 14: DWade and DWade 2.0 meet for the first time, with Wade’s Heat hovering above .500 and Mayo’s Grizzlie’s already elbowing for room in the Lottery Race. Wade goes 31-8-6-2 in the Heat-win. Mayo shoots 2-19 and commits 13 turnovers. On the play before Wade is pulled for good in the third quarter, he gets Mayo on the left wing, darts right, jab steps back and lasers in a 20-foot banker. “That’s how you do it, mini-me,” he says.

Dec. 18: Amare wins a secret $3M bet between 20 of the NBA’s biggest stars when he becomes the first player to posterize Greg Oden. The money was to go to charity. “The banking industry is struggling right now, my charity is my Wachovia bank account,” says Amare. About two hours prior, Pam and Jim finally marry on The Office.” This event is mired by the more salacious news that Angela is pregnant with Dwight’s baby. Says Dwight: “Sexual contraception is for gays. Plus my sperm is too strong, anyways. It’d eat right through the Saran Wrap.”

Dec. 25: The Decrepit Spurs and Ancient Suns prove, on the national stage of Xmas, that the league has passed them by and their rivalry is meaningless. The game is marked by these sights: Duncan falls after a botched spin move, then Shaq falls down while going for a board, then Grant Hill falls and bruises his pelvis, like an elderly woman. It all pales to this sight: Shawn Kemp in black-n-silver and Nick Anderson in orange-n-purple.

Dec. 30: The Knicks go to Charlotte with a better record than Larry Brown’s Bobcats. Adam Morrison is averaging 6 ppg on 31% shooting; Sean May and Emeka Okafor are injured again. Brown announces his retirement the next day. Reason? “I’m seventy effing six years old…I’ll be dying soon.”

JANUARY

Jan. 2: Gil promised no less than 40 points in his return to action. Boston only lets him score four. About 2,500 miles west in Phoenix, Baron does 28 and 14 on Nash. After he hears of Gil’s dud, he smirks. “The best pg out of L.A. ain’t even an issue. I got that locked. And I got a better blog than homeboy, too. Gil don’t even got the best blog on NBA.com. My homeboy Bosh got that.”

Jan. 11: Jack Bauer returns. Incredible things happen, like how Jack calls for a helicopter at 7:23 a.m. to get him out of an ambush at the Port of San Diego, then the chopper arrives (from Los Angeles) after the commercial break…at 7:27 a.m.

Jan. 13: Lakers get revenge on the Rockets and takeover sole possesion of first place in the West. Kobe misses the game with a tweaked pinkie. “He don’t want it with Ron,” says Artest.

Jan. 19: LeBron vs. Kobe morphs into LeBron vs. Mike Brown. With the Cavs 12 games below .500, averaging 75 ppg, LeBron walks to the podium in a custom made Brooklyn Nets T-shirt and sets it on Brown. “I want out. This some bull-sh&t! He got me out there stranded every play! Either that, or we out here runnin’ Wally-Wallace pick-n-rolls! I ain’t sign on for this sh*t! I asked Danny to get some competence in here. But I’m through. I’m going rogue from now on. He call the same play every time, 54squaredown. Y’all know what that mean? I means for me to “make” a play. It basically means, “Yo y’all, get open and clap your hands so Bron knows where you are when the quadruple team comes.” Before Bron’s meltdown, Brown told reporters, “the fundamentals of our relationship are strong.” Brown is fired while Bron is still ranting. Later, a few NBA heads see him eating dinner on the Third Street Promenade. One simply asks, “You enjoying that wine, coach?” Brown goes off and a fan sticks a camera phone in front of him just in time for: “THAT MU*#@$&%# LEBRON JAMES SOLD ME OUT!!!”

Jan. 20: Barack Obama is sworn-in for his first term as President of the United States. Baron, a vocal Obama supporter, is one of the 2.5 million people that watch his Inaugural Address on The Mall. During Obama’s address, he evokes his familiar sentiments of uniting the country: “blacks and whites, straights and gays, feminists and bimbos, Kobes and Rons, Barons and Gils.”

Jan. 30: Don Nelson wears a sweatsuit on the sidelines of a nationally televised Warriors-Hornets game. Not even a sweet one — a cotton Wal-Mart sweatsuit. Stern does nothing. Coaches take heed.

FEBRUARY

Feb. 1: The city of Buffalo gets revenge and redemption when Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes’ last second field goal sails wide-left and my hometown Bills win Super Bowl XLIII, 20-19. Ethnic whites set South Buffalo on fire in fits of gleeful and manic rioting.

Fed. 13: All-Star Friday is a tragic day. Roland VCT-79X, another Necko creation, murders Lil’ Wayne at a Phoenix nightclub when he takes the stage for an impromptu rendition of his “Can’t Believe It” cameo.

Feb. 14: Childhood friends Dwight Howard and Josh Smith meet in the Slam Dunk Finals. Smith — January’s Player of the Month, participating in his first All-Star game the next day — bests his homeboy by jumping over their old AAU teammate (and Josh’s current Hawk teammate) Randolph Morris’ head…Morris is 7-1…it was a reverse-windmill. Shaq wildly, but strangely, reacts by disrobing. Seriously. As the judges hold up 10s, Shaq stands in nothing but his gators, boxers and a fedora.

Feb. 15: Let’s see, who’s there? Denzel is there. Will is there. Jay and B are there. Prince is there. Timberlake’s there. Johansson’s there. Snoop, Dre and Eminem are there. The pop-culture cool-quotient is at its normal high level. The NBA, however, chooses to book Bette Midler for its halftime show. The game was close. East starters were Dwade, Gil, Bron, KG and Howard. West starters were CP3, Kobe, Duncan, Dirk and Yao. But on the floor during crunch time, is Wade, Billups, Bron, KG and Josh Smith for the East; CP3, Kobe, T-Mac, Duncan and Amare for the West. West wins 145-142 on a game-winning trey from Mac, in KG’s mug. CP3 finishes with 13 points, 16 assists , six steals and the MVP.

Feb. 20: With the Marion-Odom Trade finalized the previous day, Matrix suits up for the league-leading Lakers in a 117-111 win over the Hornets. Houston, Utah and New Orleans are a few games back with the surprising Clippers surging, Mavs wading and Blazers learning. Back East, Boston and Detroit have healthy division leads over Philly and Cleveland, but the Southeast is a three-way jumble between Washington, Miami and Orlando, all on pace for 44-47 wins.

MARCH

March 3: For the Spurs nationally televised game against the Mavs, Greg Popovich mans the sidelines dressed in deck shoes, no socks, cargo shorts and a Don Johnson shirt unbuttoned to his navel. Things are getting ridiculous (Mike Woodson wore a FUBU jersey a week earlier) but still no league sanctions.

March 7: Avery Johnson takes over for Mike Woodson, with the underachieving Hawks two games out of the eighth spot.

March 18: Plenty of scouts are ready for the NCAA Tournament to get underway, but just as many stalk overseas arenas to get the goods on Ricky Rubio and Brandon Jennings.

March 19: Gil and Baron meet for the first time after sniping at each other in the press and on their blogs for months. They even crashed each other’s birthday bashes, bum rushed the DJ booths and spit Shaq-like beef-rhymes before getting escorted out by security. The game receives national attention. ESPN swaps it in as their Wednesday night game. The two don’t disappoint. They commit flagrant fouls on each other. Gil goes for 35 with no assists or rebounds, but six steals and six turnovers. Baron hits for 26 and hands out 12 assists, plus knocks down a late-game three that seals the game. He points to his crotch and tells Gil to “get the bozak.” After the game, Baron stuns media and fans when he tells “NBA Fastbreak” that the two of them are getting ready to go pop some bottles. Gil confirms: “Yeah, this whole back and forth thing was for yall. It was all Hollywood. We’re from L.A.”

March 26: With the Lakers in town, you’d think the black solidarity patches on the Pistons jerseys are for Chauncey, given the way youngboy Derrick Rose schooled him on TNT in the peaking Bulls 97-93 win. But, they’re actually for Kwame Kilpatrick, in response to reports that the former Detroit Mayor is hospitalized due to health complications stemming from the daily sodomy he was subjected to during his four-month jail sentence. Kobe, in a four-way MVP race with Chris Paul, Pierce and TMac, scores a season-high 43. He’s averaging just 25 ppg, but on 54% shooting, with six assists, six boards and a career-low 1.8 turnovers/gm. Postgame, he wears a Ron Artest jersey with a bullseye over the ‘96′.

APRIL

April 3: L.A.-Houston. Kobe-Artest. Both teams come into the game on pace to win close to 65 games. Marion — with his perimeter D, point-manufacturing and perimeter defense — makes L.A. the Trade Deadline winners for the second season in-a-row. Yao and Mac have only missed six games combined. It’s the most hyped game of the new millennium. Bynum (averaging 13 ppg, 12 rpg and 3 bpg) is ejected for a Flagrant 2 on Scola with nine minutes left in the first quarter (”Bogus man. Check the tapes. He grabbed my junk), as if the game needs more tension. Ron and Kobe are both T’d-up in the second quarter for jawing, Ron needling Kobe about Pierce’s athletic superiority, his own sexual prowess and the way he’s forced Kobe into five early turnovers. The Rockets head into the half up 13 at Staples. Phil calls Kobe a “pu$$y” during halftime and inserts Luke Walton in the starting lineup for the second-half. Kobe, dangerously enraged, enters the game with 7:28 left in the third and commences to score 45 points in the next 18 minutes — all on Artest. He even slows up on several fast breaks, finds Ron, dribbles over to him and schools him. When Phil takes Kobe out to a standing ovation, the Lakers are up 11 with 26 seconds to go. Kobe after the game: “This was no different than any other game for me.”

April 5: Danny Granger and Kevin Durant duel it out. Granger goes for 48, Durant for 46. Both youngsters end the season averaging 24 ppg for their lottery-bound squads. Durant’s Longhorns beat North Carolina for the NCAA Championship the next day.

April 11: Floyd “Money” Mayweather fights Mike Tyson in Vegas. Floyd’s purse is $75M. Tyson’s purse is “not going bankrupt again.” Tyson bites off Floyd’s left nipple in the 3rd round. Mayhem follows.

April 13: Necko’s Electro Harmonix Prime ruins the premiere of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, when he bludgeons T-Pain during his performance of “Long Lap Dance.” In other news, Phoenix is eliminated from playoff contention, with Nash, Hill and Shaq on the IR.

April 15: Michael Beasley — a cinch for Rookie of the Year since late February — heats-up Sheed for 38 and 18. Wade, back in MVP talks, drops 32. The Heat clinch the 6th seed. The season ends with L.A., Houston, Utah, New Orleans, Dallas, Portland, San Antonio and the L.A. Clipps moving on in the West; Boston, Detroit, Washington, Philly, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Cleveland in the East.

MVP? Coach of the Year? NBA Champs? You’ll have to wait until April 16th for that.

Vincent Thomas is a columnist and feature writer for SLAM. He can be reached at vincethomas79@gmail.com.