Red-letter dates on Spurs’ schedule (circle them in pencil)

Here are some games not to miss on the Spurs’ 2011-12 schedule, lockout permitting. With the NBA labor crisis still nowhere near a resolution, we’d circle these dates in pencil, and hold off on hiring a babysitter for now.

for complete schedule.

Nov. 2 — The Spurs open the season at home against Milwaukee. The last time the Bucks visited the ATT Center, Manu Ginobili sank them with a buzzer beater.

Nov. 4 – First visit of the season from the Dallas Mavericks, who much to the chagrin of folks in San Antonio can now add “defending NBA champions” to their official title. The Spurs also face the Mavs on Jan. 29 and March 17 in  Dallas and on April 8 again at home.

Nov. 9 — First of two visits out west to take on Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. After this, Spurs won’t face Lakers again until April, when they close the season by playing two of the final four games against their West Coast rivals.

Dec. 17 — Reigning MVP Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls come to San Antonio, repaying the Spurs’ visit to the Windy City on Nov. 30.

Dec. 26 – First of four revenge games against the Memphis team that knocked the Spurs from the playoffs last season in an historic 1 vs. 8 upset. This one will be at the ATT Center. Spurs also face the Grizzlies on Jan. 3 and Feb. 14 in Memphis and at home on April Fool’s Day.

Dec. 31 – Celebrate New Year’s Eve in style. Sort of. Spurs ring in 2012 by hosting the Toronto Raptors.

Jan. 11 — Ex Spurs guard George Hill will face his former team for the first time since his draft-night trade to the Pacers. This game  is in Indiana. Hill comes home to San Antonio on March 30.

Jan. 17 – Spurs vs. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh in Miami. Enough said. Heat make their lone visit to ATT Center a few weeks later, on Feb. 1.

Feb. 6 – Spurs open nine-game rodeo road trip, beginning in Washington. Trip will also take them to Philadelphia, Toronto, Detroit, Memphis, Los Angeles (Clippers), Utah and Portland before concluding Feb. 23 in Denver.

March 7 – The only trip to the ATT Center for Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and the reconstituted New York Knicks is part of a seven-game homestand that follows the rodeo trip. After the rodeo leaves town, the Spurs finish with 16 of their final 22 games at home.

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