It's Prime time for basket cases

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 November, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 November, 1994, 12:00am

WHEN it concerns (but not limited to) hoops, people have said I am a basket case.

So when the publicity machine at Prime Sports invited me to the NBA launch at LA Cafe to tip-off their live coverage of the basketball games at 9 am two days ago, I was there but late.

Prime's live coverage of the 1994/95 season started with the New York Knicks against the Orlando Magic.

While I am not a morning person, I got myself out of bed to see the Knicks' explosive new run-and-gun offence I have been hearing so much about this young season, to see if the Magic's acquisition of Horace Grant from Chicago would make Orlando into real contenders this year, and for the free media breakfast.

I sat next to Kiwi Mike, sports editor of the HK Standard, who had Rob Mannseur, publicity exec at Prime, to the left of him, and to the right of me and all around were more publicity and marketing types from STAR TV's various channels.

Publicity exec Rob leaned over towards publicity exec Angela Bowolin and asked, 'Which one is Rob Levine?' 'Where's Rob Levine?' I heard several others whisper. (Levine, I found out later, was the NBA's business point-guard in Asia, but you knew that).

While the Knicks built up their lead to 13 points, Rob and Angela worked the room, table-hopped, shook hands, exchanged business cards and fed Kiwi Mike and I orange juice after orange juice. I felt like I stepped on to a set of Hong Kong's version of that Hollywood satire, The Player. The marketing women at the far end of our table, chairs turned away from the game, power-smoked and power-chatted, and looked briefly over at Mike and I with curious disdain every time we cheered a Knicks' three-pointer.

Granted it was too early for basketball, but I knew I would lose it if they started talking about their hair. No free breakfast is worth that, I thought.

Speaking of which, half-time was approaching and our breakfast was slowly becoming brunch. LA Cafe made the services at Dan Ryan's and Jimmy's Sports Bar look like Pete Sampras' zingers on the tennis court.

By the fourth quarter, I was finding it harder to concentrate on the game, but then again, so were the Knicks as their 13-point lead was cut down to three, then, one point.

While the Knicks are trying to protect a two-point lead with less than a minute left, the exec gives me his card and tries to talk to me. What do they teach at business schools these days? But all was well in the end as breakfast arrived, and Patrick Ewing's shot (all net) with 2.4 seconds left gave New York a two-point win.