I hope I’m not coming down with an illness or a vicious battle with vertigo. But something is definitely not right.

I’m watching an NBA game right now and the calendar doesn’t yet say May.

Can somebody please bring over a thermometer?

I don’t know what’s more amazing – that I’m watching the Portland Trail Blazers play the Phoenix Suns or that Grant Hill (age 37 going on 60) is still in the NBA.

Making it even odder is the Portland player I most like to see play – shooting guard Brandon Roy – is sidelined after recent knee surgery.

But I’m warming up for the real start of the NBA season, also known as the second round of the playoffs. So checking in on a first-round series in which both teams won 50 or more regular-season games isn’t quite as bad as it sounds.

It’s not like I tuned into an NHL regular-season game or an early-round men’s tennis match or the first round of some nondescript golf tournament.

NBA regular-season games have become nearly unwatchable. Even the last one I attended in person (Charlotte at Phoenix the night after the 2008 Super Bowl between the New York Giants and New England Patriots) was like sitting through a root canal. Those three hours inside Phoenix’s spectacular arena moved slower than former major-league outfielder Rusty Staub (apologies to slowpokes Willie Stargell and Sid Bream). The next day’s drive to Laughlin was smoother and less painful.

Even Steve Nash’s presence couldn’t make the game interesting, and Nash is one of those players that could have starred in the glory days of the NBA when they used to play team basketball 82 games a season.

That’s normally why I wait until the second round of the playoffs to start watching NBA games. All the bad teams and undeserving playoff teams are gone and you’re left with the best eight teams in the league.

The stakes are high and the intensity is even higher. Everybody is giving all-out effort on every possession, very unlike your typical December game between the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers. Hey, where is Rik Smits on a Sunday?

Plus, it’s kind of fun to tune in and say things like ‘Hey, when did Marcus Camby become a Trail Blazer?’ or ‘Wow, Jared Dudley is getting quality minutes for the Suns. I remember when the San Diego County product had to wait until the summer after his high school career ended to get a college scholarship from Boston College.’ ”

And basically, there’s no better time to reminisce about injury-prone Greg Oden, who has played in all of 82 NBA games in three seasons since Portland chose him first overall in the 2007 NBA Draft. The biggest news Oden made this season was for nude pictures of himself that circulated all over the Internet.

So this Sunday night game between the Trail Blazers and Suns is serving a purpose. Think of it as similar to watching the final NFL preseason game or a spring-training game 48 hours before the start of the major-league baseball season.

This is getting me warmed up for the real NBA season, where the basketball is top-notch and the drama is livelier than anything uncovered in the Big Brother house.

Plus, I need something to get me ready for the possible second-round series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets. Their matchup in the Western Conference finals last season was classic basketball.

And that’s the beauty of waiting until May to start paying attention to the NBA – you’re on board for the epic games of the season and didn’t clutter your minds with months and months of atrocious play (yeah Donald Sterling, your Los Angeles Clippers are at the top of that list).

So please put that straitjacket down. I’m fine. Really, I am.

The real NBA season starts in less than two weeks and I’m truly looking forward to it.

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