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By Homer D. Sayson

NBA Finals fever has no Beiber sighting
08 Jun 2013

MIAMI -- Justin Bieber, the 19-year old pop tart from Canada, has been a fixture at the American Airlines Arena during the course of these NBA playoffs.

In Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the defending champions Miami Heat and the now-vanquished Indiana Pacers, Bieber showed up here and immediately created a buzz by wearing a puzzling leather outfit and an over sized, overly-priced $485 Heat cap. With thick gold chains hanging all over his bony frame, Bieber looked like he just robbed a pawnshop.

I didn't experience a Bieber sighting during Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals two nights ago, but Bieber's seat was still there and somebody else paid $25,000 to watch the San Antonio Spurs cool off the hometown Heat, who simmered down in a suspenseful 92-88 thriller.

Rapper Flo Rida did make a Game 1 cameo, so did singer Jimmy Buffet. After all, there is no shortage of celebrities in South Beach.

This is my 3rd NBA Finals trip in Miami. I was here when Dwyane Wade and Shaq delivered the franchise's first-ever Larry O'Brien trophy at the expense of Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks in 2006. I was around last year when LeBron James finally got fitted for a ring. Nobody knows how the Heat's Big Three will fare against the Spurs this time, but down 1-0 in this best-of-7 affair, the forecast is cloudy with a chance of heartache.

Either way, I love everything about Miami. The people are warm as the tropical weather, the traffic is light, and this paradise is teeming with gorgeously voluptuous women that are making my eyes pop out of its sockets.

Unlike my previous forays, I'm covering this event with a wingman, Philippines writer Rodene Ivan Cortes, a New Yorker with Lapulapu City roots. This is Rodene's rookie NBA Finals coverage, but the kid is a quick study. He is fast on the camera trigger and eager with the stories. He also has a work ethic that office bosses can only dream about.

The highlight of my trip thus far is my short meeting and interview with the legendary Magic Johnson, the architect of the Showtime Lakers. Magic was genuinely amused when I said I watched him play at the Araneta Colisuem in 1994, when I was still new in the sports writing business. It was a glorious period in my life when I had more hair and less problems.

At age 53, Magic looks 10 years younger. Whatever his age-defying secrets are -- moisturizers, tons of sleep or Bello beauty -- it's apparently working. The 6-foot-9 Hall-of-Famer is impeccably lean and looks like he can still dribble among the best in the NBA. But what struck me the most was the famous one million watt smile, the pearly whites that could wipe away tall of mankind's worries.

With a personal wealth approaching one billion US dollars, Magic is now an esteemed entrepreneur who somehow finds time to share his basketball knowledge to the world as NBA analyst for ABC-TV.

As soon as I got to my hotel room in this beautiful city by the beach, I quickly told my brother Sigfred about my Magic encounter. Sigfred, who now calls Singapore home, is also an avid Magic fan like me. We used to watch the Lakers on TV as young boys bleeding in purple and gold. Ah, reverie, what a blessing divine.

Every night at the opulent Mariott Hotel at Biscayne Boulevard, the NBA hosts all credentialed writers to a hospitality suite where free food and drinks are served until 2 am. I go there every night, of course, and I run to the buffet table like Usain Bolt in the 100 meter dash. I also drink so much free beer you'd think I was about to be condemned to the electric chair.

Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of work to do here. Besides penning this piece and overseeing this site's NBA page as its editor, I also write a column for Philippines. But I have embraced the challenge like a bouquet of roses. And from where I sit, darn it, everything is smelling so good.

I have had the good fortune of being credentialed to 10 NBA Finals. It never grows old. The NBA, I love this game!

The author with Magic Johnson.

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