The 1990-91 NBA regular season will open on the road for both the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz. Funny thing is, they'll play each other.
The Suns and the Jazz will meet for two games in the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum on Nov. 3-4, the first time an American professional sports league will hold a regular season game outside North America, according to NBA Commissioner David Stern.
"It's a prestige thing to be asked to participate," Utah General Manager Tim Howells said yesterday. "There's also a spirit of wanting to do our part of furthering the goals of the NBA. This international thing is something I know the commissioner is putting a fair amount of focus on."
Although NBA games are televised in 75 countries, Stern said all previous international competition involving league members have been exhibitions or tournaments.
"It's good to be on the cutting edge as the league participates in and does various things." said Suns President Jerry Colangelo.
Both teams will have one fewer home game because of the series. Howells did not disclose financial details of the arrangement. . . .
The Portland Trail Blazers, preparing for Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against Phoenix, got an emotional lift when forward Ramon Ramos, who suffered a brain injury in a car accident that left him in a coma for almost two months, watched his teammates practice.
"He looks real good," close friend and ex-Seton Hall teammate Mark Bryant said. "He looks like Ramon. He smiled as soon as he got in the locker room. It was nice to see him there in his own spot."
Ramos's jersey still hangs in the locker and he's still officially a member of the team, although doctors say he almost certainly will never play basketball again.
"It was very inspirational for our team, and I think more than anything else it was good therapy for Ramon," Buck Williams said. "He's played basketball all his life and to come back here and see his teammates prepare for probably one of the most important games of the series really meant a lot to him and it meant a lot to our ballclub."