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NBA roots run deep

May 10, 2007 - Neil Rudel
Let me trace my NBA interest.
It started when I was at the Daily Collegian, say 1977, and I was reading a hockey column by fellow staffer Mike Missinelli. Having been passionate about pro basketball, I approached our sports editor, Brian Miller, about the possibility of allowing me to write an NBA column.
He agreed.
At the Mirror, I was then fortunate enough to cover the NBA careers of four Altoonans -- from draft night through the end -- of Johnny Moore, Doug West and Mike Iuzzolino along with providing occasional catchups with Danny Fortson.
Local connections also include Jeff Bower (Hollidaysburg, now GM of the New Orleans Hornets) and Tim Frank (Altoona, director of NBA media relations).
I've always found the basketball world small and intriguing. Over the past 20 years, along with the locals, a press pass to an NBA game could also lead to a renewal of acquaintances with the likes of PSU ties Bob Weiss, John Bach, Dick Harter, Frank Brickowski and Brian Hill.
I ran into the Brick, whom I covered for the Collegian, at a Seattle-Miami game at the Miami Arena in the mid-'90s.
"Frank, do you remember me? I went to Penn State with you."
"How long ago?"
"About 20 years."
He just laughed, of course, having seen a countless myriad of faces over that span.
Which brings me to this year's playoffs: They've been terrific and full of drama so far. Derek Fisher's moving story on Wednesday night, when he arrived during the second half of the Golden State-Utah game only to drain a key bucket that lifted the Jazz, was particularly compelling. Fisher missed Game 1 of the series and was in New York most of the day Wednesday attending to his daughter, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that appears to have been caught.
In an interview afterward, Fisher urged parents to be sure their kids are tested early.
The Jazz could use that inspiration against the upstart Warriors and should meet the Suns-Spurs winner (it says here Suns) in the Western finals. Detroit still looks to be the tops in the East, though it would be nice to see LeBron crash the party.
Either way, I'll be watching.

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