The Morning After The Night Before XXII
The storm that’s going to hit Toronto tonight is going to hit here this morning and I’ve got a feeling this airport here isn’t quite up to snuff when it comes to snow removal. And knowing Air Canada like I do, a flight delay or a cancellation is probably in my future. Which will tick me off no end because Super Son and I are off to see the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie this afternoon.
But, after a night when Carlos Delfino was upset because not only did he get a seven-stitch cut over his left eye he got a foul on the same play, and a night when The Hump cemented his Hall of Fame credentials again, and a night when Jason Kapono’s defensive deficiencies were forgotten in a barrage of three-pointers, here are …
Three Things I Learned
Scouts love Sam
Sitting in front of three advance scouts on the baseline and I find out they love Sam and the Raptors. Not ‘cause they play well or are wildly entertaining but because Sam loves to call out the plays clear as a bell and they don’t have to scramble to find out what the call is like they usually do.
Now, advance scouting is sort of an information-sharing occupation, if one guy doesn’t get the call someone will help him out but having the coach scream ‘horns up’ (two bigs at the top setting screens) or ‘1-5 side’ (which is what you’d think) makes live much easier.
I know he’s blocked a shot in about a billion straight games (16, actually; five off Marcus Camby’s franchise record) but watching Jamario Moon struggle in just 15 minutes against the Pacers begs the question:
"Should he still start?"
Immediate reaction is yes, he should, because of his length and athleticism. But it looks like he’s hit an offensive wall, as some of us expected he would, and maybe it’s time to try Carlos Delfino in that spot?
They like them, they really like them
In our post-game relaxation period, made much more palatable thanks to some sliders and a pair of adult beverages, we also got to see halftime of the Lakers-Warriors.
Seems Mike Wilbon and Bill Walton of ESPN are both fans. Wilbon had Toronto fourth in his list of the five most exciting teams in the NBA and Walton had ‘em tied with the Lakers for fifth.
That’s pretty good respect from two guys whose opinion I respect.
Three Things You Wondered
Q: With the Mitchell Report out and all the buzz in baseball about cheating, one can't help but wonder to what extent performance enhancing drugs exist in the NBA. I know that conventional wisdom is that drugs result in more injuries and only build muscle and not ligaments/tendons, but the baseball example has shown how some used it to help with recovering from the daily grind and injuries.
My personal take is that basketball is too fluid a game to allow for muscle heads to permeate through the ranks, but looking at how good a shape most players are in, it's hard not to wonder. When there are millions of benjamins to be had, how can we be sure that at least some of the 400 or so NBA players, and the 1000's that aspire to be one, aren't jabbing their backsides.
Being a big ol' beat grunt like yourself, I'm sure you must have some insight or may have seen some things that make you say hmmm....
AK, Richmond Hill
A: I am not naive enough to think that there are no steroid users, or HGH users, among the 400-plus NBAers but I certainly think the number would be miniscule and the benefits relatively minimal.
The players I've talked to about the issue over the years say the chance to recover quickly to work out harder -- one of the key reasons behind steroid use -- is not as important in basketball as in some other sports.
The NBA's testing procedure, while not perfect because it's not year-round, unannounced testing (it's done in season, even though it's unannounced) is a good one, though.
Q: In the past three or four years, TJ has almost been paralyzed and this year he’s had “stinger” problems and very scary fall. In the interest of his family, why doesn’t he just take the money he’s earned and say “see ya.” I love watching him play but at some point he has to realize that he’s one injury away from seriously affecting his life.
Mark G, Waterloo
A: Every athlete in every sport is one injury away from seriously affecting their lives; Ford believes the doctors who tell him he's not at any greater risk of cataclysmic injury than any other player, despite his past.
The easy thing, I guess, would be to take the money and run, but that's not in his nature.
As he said himself the other night, if he ever feels he's a risk to the point where he might not be able to play with his son, he'll retire. That day isn't here yet.
Q: Why do the Raptors play so many Sunday matinee games? Do they request it from the NBA scheduler's because it seems that no other teams play regularly on a Sunday lunchtime and the Raptors usually play well in these games. Frank Isola mentioned it on NBA TV ... that teams struggle with the time slot because they're 'not ready for it'. A weak excuse but T-Mac did look half asleep (Sunday), although that was in the second half....not that he ever really looks fully awake anyway.
Leigh E, Toronto (via Melbourne)
A: There is something to be said for the, um, social swirl of Toronto Saturday night that gives the Raptors an edge on Sunday afternoons and if they ask to play games then in part to take advantage of it, good for them.
Some teams are never ready for it. I remember the wise old sage Butch Carter saying he knew which opponents he could take advantage of in every Sunday matinee by the reputations they has as purveyors of late-night good times.
It's not say all the Raptors love those afternoon games, there are some sleepy eyes in the locker room before noon tip-offs, that's for sure, but they are indeed more used to it.
Originally, I think the team decided Sunday afternoons were good for broadcast reasons and now it's become a traditional starting time.