Five NBA Love Stories (For Valentine's Day)

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The NBA: Love is in the air
Let me be the millionth to say that I hate Valentine's Day. It's a sham. It's a farce. It's a fabrication designed to stimulate the economy and jump-start jewelry, flower, restaurant and sex toy business for a random day in the dead period of February.

And yet, as a species, digging our heels in is not an option for the male gender. Opting to abstain from Valentine's Day is basically the equivalent of taking a vow of celibacy, at least in the short term. So we'll scramble at the last minute to find that one place that actually still has one bucket of roses left, and make those last-minute restaurant plans.

And we'll scramble to do a last-minute blog post.

In honor of Valentine's Day, I combine procrastination, love (real and phony), and NBA basketball and give you a trip down memory lane with these five NBA love stories.

5. Kobe Buys a Ring.
In the summer of 2003, just after the season had ended and after his wife Vanessa gave birth to their first child, Kobe Bryant decided to go to Colorado to rehab his knee. He wound up coming home having to rehab his image and his marriage as a hotel worker accused him of raping her during a sexual encounter in his room. Bryant later admitted that the tryst took place, but that perhaps he misunderstood whether or not the hotel worker was consenting. Vanessa proved that she could be bought was the bigger person by by accepting a seven-figure diamond ring that Kobe bought at Zale's forgiving Kobe. (Note: According to Wikipedia, when Vanessa and Kobe married in 2001, there was no prenuptial agreement as Vanessa believed that Bryant "loved her too much for one." Clearly.)

4. Toni Braxton Breaks Up the Mavericks.
In the early '90s, the Dallas Mavericks were one of the historically worst teams in the NBA. By 1995, they had managed to parlay that ineptitude (and the lottery picks that came with it) into Jason Kidd, Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn (creatively known collectively as the "Three J's"). Ultimately, though, they were all gone by 1997, as a love triangle between Kidd, Jackson and singer Toni Braxton caused major tension on the team and forced the Mavericks to trade all three. On a side note, for her stellar work in shutting down the "Three J's," Braxton received second team NBA All-Defense honors.

3. Tony Parker Goes All Smarmy French Guy.
Give Tony Parker credit -- at least if he is going to put one of his teammate's significant others on his radar, he waits until he's a former teammate for the shit to hit the fan. Tony Parker always seemed like a harmless Frenchy; come to find out that he has the "cheat on Eva Longoria with a teammate's wife" club in his bag. It's like finding out that your neighbor's pet poodle was the meanest dog in the Bad Newz Kennels. (Amazingly, the Spurs have the best record in the NBA season. Chemistry shmemistry. We need Aaron Brooks or Kyle Lowry to start taking a run at Shane Battier's old lady!)

2. Steve and Cuttino
Uh, yeah.

1. The Christies
One story that actually doesn't include infidelity or freakery, mostly because Jackie Christie (the wife of former NBA guard Doug Christie) would never let any woman within 20 feet of her husband. With his constant hand signals to her throughout the game, Doug became the poster child for pussy whippedness throughout his NBA career. Of course, given the fact that Jackie actually got involved in a brawl that involved her husband and the Lakers' bench, it's entirely possible that Doug was just scared shitless of her. Either way, odds are pretty safe that Doug Christie has cooked breakfast today, and that Jackie Christie is getting her feet rubbed tonight. Book it.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.


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