A little from L.A., a little from Italy
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know it’s late. But it’s early, too, if you know what I mean.
Lots to digest off last night, some of it even having to do with what happened on the court.
You all saw or heard this story yesterday where Donaghy’s lawyers say he knows of two games or series where the outcome was pre-determined.
I tend to believe this is the desperate cry of a man trying to minimize his jail time for a couple of reasons.
If there was a league-wide conspiracy to “fix” games and series, it’s been kept under wraps for years now and someone would have squawked before now.
Yes, the refereeing in Game 6 of that Lakers-Kings series was atrocious – of that there is no doubt – but if you’re going to go all “conspiracy theory” on us, why not suggest Game 7 was fixed, as well.
I was at that Game 7 in Sacramento and unless someone from the league office paid off Peja Stojakovic and Doug Christie to play like dogs in the overtime, the fix couldn’t have been in.
The Dallas-Houston situation? Yes, it’s called whining, everyone does it every single playoff game, it seems. I’m sure the referees were told to watch illegal screens and I can see a “league official” passing that information on to Jeff Van Gundy in a casual conversation.
But look at it this way, if the fix was in on that one, why wouldn’t the league fix it so Houston won, to further open the Chinese market behind a successful Yao Ming.
Refereeing basketball, as I’ve said a zillion times, is the toughest officiating job in pro sports and sometimes they blow calls. Or make too many of one kind and then over-react going back the other way.
A league-issued edict to favour one team over the other? Don’t see it. Sorry.
Lots of questions in the mail about the Euro camp in Treviso. Here’s a couple that are representative:
Q: Heard anything from the Euro Camp going on right now? I know Jay Triano is there checking out the talent, and the one prospect I keep hearing good things from is Serge Ibaka from the Congo. A Shawn Kemp or Amare Stoudemire type. Think he'll be there at 17? Think Colangelo would take him?
Roy S, Guelph
A: Raw. Very, very, very raw. Be there at 17? Absolutely.
Would Toronto take him at 17? Can’t see it happening.
Q: I have noticed that Nicolas Batum held a private workout today at the Reebok Eurocamp. Could you please let me know how he fared?
Adrian D, Toronto
A: I haven’t spoken to Jay or Maurizio or Masai and obviously I wasn’t there but the word I’m getting from Treviso is that he’s got a lot of different skills, can drive it, shoot and shoot with range and there’s questions about his toughness.
Looks now, at least from people I’ve talked to, that he’ll be there at 17 and it’ll be up to Toronto to decide whether they want to pull the trigger.
Talking to a few folks around the final who have their ear to the ground, the thinking is you can take the Denver Nuggets off the list of teams that need a point guard and might make a move on T.J. Ford.
No way George Karl can feel comfortable playing the world’s smallest backcourt of Ford and Allen Iverson.
One of the few bright spots for the Celtics last night?
In the first quarter, Kevin Garnett blocks a Pau Gasol dunk and then beats him down the court by 35 feet.
At that point, it looked as if the Celtics might be on their way.
Here’s some mail:
Q: Hi Doug. I asked this before but perhaps it will be more relevant as 'silly season' gets closer. Do you think that the teams that overachieved in the playoffs (Philadelphia and Atlanta) are going to be more complacent than they ought to be - especially if they hadn't made the playoffs?
Mike K, London
A: We’ve been talking about that a bit out here and the consensus is that, yes, there could easily be a “bounce factor” that sees both those teams taking a step back next season.
Sometimes teams – see the 47-win to 41-win Raptors – either get comfortable thinking they’re better than they are; they do get complacent and they forget the breaks they got and the effort it took to make a huge jump.
I’m not saying either Philly or Atlanta will drop out of the playoffs next year but I also wouldn’t be surprised if it happened.
They run through all the celebs. Jack and Dustin, Stallone and the dude warbler from the contest show. Then they show Eddie Murphy and I'm wondering, does he still qualify as a celebrity?
Pizza lovers, pay attention:
Even in the playoffs, the Lakers have one of those goofy giveaways. With a twist.
If they hold a team under 100 and win, everyone gets two free tacos.
They don’t, unfortunately, have a drop-off box for ticket stubs that the team could then give to a food bank.
Good Kobe quote from post-game last night that couldn’t get in the paper for time and space concerns.
He’s asked about his 18 trips to the free throw line, and the seven bricks he tossed while he was there:
"It felt like I was in a foreign territory because I haven't been there in so long. It's like somebody took me and just dropped me off in the middle of Shanghai with no translator, you know what I'm saying? And no dictionary; it was crazy.”
If anyone finds Lamar Odom, can they please return him to the Lakers?