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NBA Season Starts With Marquee Match-Up


The World Series is all tied up, the NBA season is about to begin, and why is a sport's anti-doping agency heading to an Island nation that's as proud of its track stars as Italy is of sopranos. NPR's Tom Goldman joins us. Tom, thanks for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Good to be here, Scott.

SIMON: You will be in St. Louis tonight for Game 3.

GOLDMAN: Yes, sir.

SIMON: The BoSox feasted off the Cards in Game 1; the Cards came back roaring as we say here in Game 2. Do you see any team having the advantage so far?

GOLDMAN: Maybe a little bit to St. Louis. The next three games are at Busch Stadium where St. Louis is 5 and 1 in the playoffs. The Cards have given up only four runs in those five wins. Cardinals also have an advantage, in that Boston's a man down in the batting order for these three games. There's no designated hitter in St. Louis, the National League city, meaning Boston will shift usual DH David "Big Papi" Ortiz to first base.

Excuse me, Scott. They've got to keep him in because he's hot at the plate, four for six in the World Series, a home run in each game. But that means usual first baseman, Mike Napoli, goes to the bench and he's one of their biggest hitters. I should also say that Napoli also has probably the biggest beard among so many on that team. Which he...

SIMON: Yeah, yeah. Slows him down a little when he makes the turn at first, I noticed. Yeah.

GOLDMAN: Well, but he -exactly. He apparently shampoos and conditions it, so they're probably taking the softest and cleanest beard out of the lineup. You wonder what impact that'll have, as well.

SIMON: The NBA season gets under way next week, October 29.

GOLDMAN: Not as many beards there.

SIMON: No, no, no. It's a little hazardous then under the basket. A marquee match-up between the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls, and the Bulls' roster has a big addition this year, doesn't it?

GOLDMAN: Well, certainly. Point guard Derrick Rose is back after missing all of last year recovering from a torn ACL, and weathering lots of criticism about why he didn't play when he had medical clearance. Of course, Scott, clearance that matters as much is in the athlete's head and it took Rose this long to feel confident in his repaired knee.

Now he's played very well in the preseason. He's getting rave reviews. If this continues through the long haul of the regular season playoffs, we assume, Chicago is one of the teams in the East that could unseat Miami; Indiana being another.

SIMON: And we should note, as people will all season, if the Miami Heat can win a third championship, that's going to put them into exalted company, isn't it?

GOLDMAN: It certainly will, right up there with Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Bill Russell and the teams they've played for.

SIMON: What's this Michael, uh, Jordan like you don't remember his name.


SIMON: Let me get to this important track story, can I?


SIMON: 'Cause a team from the World Anti-Doping Agency is headed to Jamaica next week, a nation that has produced so many great sprinters, so proudly in recent years. Nothing has been found, let's emphasize this, but this may not be just a routine visit?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency is looking into reports that Jamaica's anti-doping agency was basically napping in the months leading up to the London summer Olympics where Jamaica's sprinters were dominant as always. Also, a number of positive drug tests this year have raised suspicions. Former 100-meter world record holder, Asafa Powell, was one of those who tested positive.

Of course, Scott, the elephant in the room, or on the track, is the greatest sprinter ever, Usain Bolt. There are no indications that he cheated. In fact, track's international governing body said it extensively tested Bolt and other top Jamaicans more than a dozen times last year.

SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman. Thanks so much for being with us.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.