Home, sweet home
Ah, the comforts of home. Super Dog wanting walks every six minutes, snowbanks lining the driveway waiting for the rain to melt them away and Super Son convinces me last night that UCLA wins the Final Four over North Carolina with Kansas and Pittsburgh rounding out the field.
On with the fun and games.
One thing to learn
Bosh is coming back – and not a moment too soon to lessen the angst among some of you – and one big question lingers:
What do to with Rasho?
Dude’s been playing great. Giving them around 15 points and nine boards a night in the last 10. Solid defensively.
Does he still start? Do you put Bargnani back on the bench?
If I know Sam, and this is mere speculation ‘cause I didn’t get a chance to ask him out west, Rasho’s going to come off the bench now and the big man rotation, like I’ve been suggesting for weeks, will be down to three.
Of course, he’ll use Hump just to prove me wrong but I’m not sure that’s the best deployment of personnel.
One of the all-time good mailbag questions gets us started (and, don’t forget to check back, there’s a bonus mailbag in the works for later this afternoon to clean up some of the mess left from the trip):
Q: A list question for you. If you could go back in time and see any 5 specific games live, which would you pick and why? Could be NBA, NCAA, Olympics, etc.
Jon M, Leeds, UK
A: Wow, excellent question. I’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of great ones like the first Dream Team game ever and the Olympic gold medal game in ’92, a brilliant world championship between then-Yugoslavia and Russia in ’98, Jordan’s last championship game in Salt Lake.
But here are five I would have like to have seen:
The 1972 Olympic gold medal game between the United States and Russia
Any Bill Russell-Wilt Chamberlain NBA finals game.
Any game played by Arvydas Sabonis when he was in his 20s and perhaps the greatest player in the world
Canada’s win over the United States at the ’83 World University Games in Edmonton
And one you may never have heard of: The so-called Secret Game between North Carolina College, coached by the one and only John McLendon, and the Duke Medical School intramural team in 1944. It was the first game between blacks and whites, played in front of no spectators because of the tenor of the times. McLendon’s team won 88-44.
|AARON HARRIS/CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO|
|Uh, could this have been the source of Rafer Alston's unhappiness in Toronto? Rafer gets an earful from then-teammate Jalen Rose, centre, as Vince Carter looks on.|
Presume a bunch of you watched Celtics-Rockets last night and saw the emotional Rafer Alston get into it a bit with Rajon Rondo early.
Have had lots of questions about Rafer and his play of late and if he could have become that player here.
Quick answer: No.
But Skip was the topic of more than a couple conversations during the trip, especially after his game against the Lakers and I learned a couple of things.
Rafer’s biggest problem here wasn’t Sam, it was his teammates, including one J. Rose, who used to make little subtle cracks about players being in new roles here and wondering whether they could handle them, and one V. Carter, whose on-again, off-again effort caused Alston much grief because, I’m told, Skip was as competitive as they come and he couldn’t handle half-baked effort.
Of course, Alston wasn’t nearly mature enough to handle either of those situations, which led to a couple of memorable meltdowns. He bristled at coaching sometimes, another sign of immaturity, but to his ever-lasting credit, he’s grown up a lot. The fits of anger and petulance are few and far between these days.
I know Sam’s impressed with the way he’s turned things around.
Riding a streak of one victory in a row (which is something when you’ve only got 12 on the entire season), the Heat come in even more short-handed than usual. Check out Ira in the Sun-Sentinel today.
I hate to say I told you so on the whole ‘Jason Kidd to Dallas but I don’t think the Mavs are all that much better’ thing but Dallas hasn’t beaten a team with a .500 or better record since the trade.
I know you’ve all read our story on Chris Bosh coming back tonight. Here’s the news straight from the horse’s mouth.
Let’s do a couple more letters:
Q: Crazy times in Raptorland these days. I'm hoping to delve into your deep knowledge of the NBA collective bargaining agreement :) I remember earlier you mentioned that TJ was basically untradeable due to his being a BYC player. Is he still a base year player for next year? I thought I'd give all the TJ-haters a little more ammo.
Brad C, Port Coquitlam, B.C.
A: Ford’s base-year compensation comes off June 30.
Q: Just a general basketball question: how come when a defensive player exaggerates a bit in order to take a charge it is called a "flop" and an "aberration" but when a shooter jumps directly into a defender to get the foul call the announcers say it is "a smart play"? Is this another symptom of our patriarchal society? Why is the aggressive penetrative act seen as good, while the passive role is seen as threatening the sanctity of the game?
Eric B, Toronto
A: Perception. People see a passive flop as fakery, borderline cheating maybe. Pump-faking and jumping into someone is an aggressive play that needs to be rewarded. That may be rationalization but it makes sense to me. One's action, one's reaction and action always is seen as a good thing.