Game 1. The tip off. A new beginning. A fresh start. New faces in new places. Past is past, future’s wide open, and anything can happen. Records are reset. Every team in the League is undefeated, everyone’s a contender. This is opening night.
Well, this was opening night, actually. A year ago this month. Nuggets at Spurs. The young up-and-comers against the defending champs on the first Tuesday night in November. San Antonio got its rings before the game, then took the first step in its title defense with a 102-91 win. But look closer, beyond the score. There are more stories to tell.
There’s Kenyon Martin, looking like his old, explosive self on opening night. By the end of the season, an injury-hobbled Kenyon would miss 26 games and post the worst numbers of his career.
There’s Nick Van Exel, in what might be his final NBA season, going from star to role player and from Dallas to San Antonio, looking to close out his career with a real shot at a ring. When the season ended, he was an afterthought, and ringless still.
And then there’s Tim Duncan, the perennial MVP candidate, ready to dominate another NBA season. Only he was never really healthy, and he struggled (relatively speaking) to career lows. His season, and the Spurs’, ended in the conference semis.
But never mind that. This isn’t about endings. This is opening night. Once again.