The Morning After The Night Before, XXIII
I take back everything bad I ever said about the Boston Celtics. I was wrong. They are good. Very, very good. And if I had to pick an Eastern Conference champion today – the provision being that I haven’t seen Detroit in person yet – they’d be it.
But there are still almost 60 games left in the season and a couple of playoff rounds for them to get through so plenty can still happen.
And on with the show:
Three Things I Learned
Big Rook or Big Soph is a Big Nothing right now
I was talking to someone high up on the staff yesterday about Bargnani and he said “he looks like he did the first two weeks of his career.”
Bargnani told Dave Feschuk yesterday that he’s playing like poo – or something like that – and I guess if the first step to recovery is admitting you’ve got a problem, he’s on the right track.
But it was sort of telling that the first big off the bench the last two games has been Kris Humphries and when there was four minutes of garbage time Sunday, who got to play? Bargnani.
No idea how you get a guy’s confidence back but watching Bargnani play yesterday it was obvious he has none.
I don't think they should trade him, or even take calls about people wanting him because his upside is so good. But garbage time? That's an indictment of how far he's fallen.
A telling comment?
Jose Calderon gets knocked down twice within about 30 seconds and a guy (not a wag because we’ve set the record straight on that one) turns to me and says:
"I don’t know what streak’s longer. The games with a three-pointer (which hit 720 on Sunday) or how long it’s been since we knocked someone on his ass.”
No time for friends
After they mopped up the halftime leak, when the teams were warming up, Sam Mitchell was standing in front of us having a conversation with Glen Davis. Just some idle chit-chat, couple of smiles, maybe a joke or two.
Kevin Garnett sees it, is not amused, and pushes his teammate away from talking with the enemy.
And KG and Sam are tight. That’s the kind of mindset the MVP has.
Three Things You Wondered
Q: Your main man (Walter) Hermann just got traded to the Euro-Killers. Hopefully if he's smart he won't resign with them. Why does Detroit keep going after players they'll never use? They just like ruining careers don't they?
A: They may kill some players, or at least wound them, but this one made sense for Detroit from a financial point of view and that's why Joe Dumars should get credit. They get out from the albatross that was Nazr Mohammed's contract, can now maybe sign Chris Webber for the end of the season without hitting the luxury tax level and surely My Man Walter can get some backup minutes on that team.
As for the Bobcats? I have no idea what they're doing. The thought that Mohammed may make things easier on Emeka Okafor is valid but what about when Okafor bails 'cause the team's so crappy and they're stuck with Mohammed's contract?
Q: I read the question about travel last week and I had a bunch of my own. Why don't the Raptors fly you guys with them? Don't they want the coverage anyways? Does any team in the league fly reporters with them? It can't possibly cost them that much more to fly you and Stumpy.
Raymond Young, Toronto
A: Some of it's timing -- they leave right after most games, when we're just getting into the thick of the workday; some of it's opulence -- the manner in which they travel would cost my company way more than the cheapy advance booking commercial flights we take.
But mostly, it's because that's their team time and we are interlopers. Sometimes, they don't really want to see any more of us and, sometime we don't want to see any more of them.
And, no, no team flies the beat grunts around.
Oh, and it'd cut way down on the post-game convivality and adult beverage-drinking time we get.
Q: My question this time is if you had to rank the cities with the craziest, loudest and most loyal NBA fans how would you rank them. Here is my ranking: 1-Toronto, 2-Oakland (Golden State fans), 3-Los Angeles (both Clippers and Laker fans ) 4-Phoenix, 5-Dallas.
Rob Stone, Vancouver
A: That's a good list, but I'd have a different one.
I'd have Sacramento in there, I'd take the Laker fans out because they're mostly pretty boys and girls just there to be seen. I'd have Detroit on that list and dump Dallas because they're mostly sheep who cheer when Mark Cuban's over-the-top PA announcer tells them to.
Oakland's a good choice, though, but only in the last couple of years and if I had to replace them, it'd be with Utah.
I need to throw this in as a bonus because it’s just another chapter in a sad, sad tale.
Chris of Toronto sends along this link to a story where Keon Clark says he never played an NBA game sober and wonders if I saw any evidence of it here.
No, the answer is. We all knew Keon enjoyed a cocktail, and perhaps some other things that would, um, take the edge off, and his smoking cigarettes was legendary but if he was even slightly drunk playing games, it never dawned on any of us.
It’s a long, long trek out west starting today and you interweb people are lucky. With the way deadlines work around the paper, and with two 10:30 p.m. starts in the first three games, we can use this forum to give you different stuff than the paper does. And don’t forget, we’ve still got to worry about the mailbag so just click here to send along all your questions.