Just want to say it’s very nice of the Raptors and Direct Energy to pick a winner in that contest where Jamario and AP come to your house to shoot hoops who lives about five minutes away. Makes for an easy-ish morning.
Not much going on once yesterday’s announcement of the pre-season sked became official; can’t say I’m a big fan of back-to-back games on the west coast but it’ll be nice to see Edmonton.
Bet the fans out there will be treated to something more substantial than the last time, which was 1999 for a big Naismith Cup tilt with the Vancouvers and provided a couple of moments of great hilarity.
That was the game that featured 7-3 Alex Radojevic leading a fast-break like you’ve never seen a fast break led by before (all arms and legs and the ball being dribbled about six feet high with each bounce) and was also, I believe, the swansong for that Great Raptor Training Camp project Master P. If I recall correctly, he shot it every time he touched it and I must be recalling correctly because he shot it every time he touched it no matter what game he was in.
Oh yeah, that was also the arena (not sure what it was called then or is called now) that kept showing hockey scores on the auxiliary scoreboard instead of, you know, the score of the actual basketball game and I believe Butch Carter pointed that out quite vociferously at one point in the evening.
Ah, the memories!
Pre-season neutral sites, you gotta love ‘em.
Cool to see JT get a gig, no? In case you missed it, he joined the Hawks staff, along with Tyrone Hill, who I don’t believe owes Oak money any more. Although I could be wrong on that one, haven’t spoken to Oak in six weeks or so.
Anyway, I’m sure JT will do a great job with Mike Woodson (I’ve got him as the interim head coach by about Feb. 1) but the funniest thing is gonna be if he does his halftime TV gig with the Hawks, too.
Put that New England accent in the deep south and I’m betting no one has a clue what he’s actually saying.
Speaking of assistant coaches with a Raptor angle, New Jersey hired Roy Rogers yesterday.
You have to go deep in the memory banks to remember him. He came over in the Chauncey, Dee Brown, John Thomas deal that sent Kenny Anderson, Popeye and Zan Tabak to the Celtics.
Roy, who lasted all of six games with the Raptors, was also part of another significant deal.
It took him, and two second-round draft picks, to pry The Big Fella Kevin Willis away from the Rockets in ’99.
Ah, the memories!
A mailbag followup:
Q: Hey Doug. Guess what! Every single Raptors game is live on the radio anywhere in the world for free at NBA.com plus every other game on the schedule, also for free. I never miss a game that’s not on TV.
I'm surprised you didn't know this.
We will be able to listen to Chuck Swirsky on Bulls radio. Say what you
will about Chuck but he was not ever bland. Are you kidding me? Great passion!
Larry B, Sydney Forks
A: That’s true, but that certainly doesn’t help someone who, let’s say, is driving in Waterloo or someone who – gasp! – doesn’t have internet access all the time.
So, I’m at the ball yard yesterday, watching this Canadian kid make his first start and I’m talking to a few guys from the Olympic team ‘cause I’m going back to my roots and covering some ball over in Beijing.
And it strikes me that the Rogers Jays (I believe that’s the official name now, isn’t it?) royally screwed the national team.
The Richmond kid who pitched was going to be, if not the ace, a huge part of Canada’s rotation and now he can’t pitch because the Rogers Jays needed an emergency starter or somesuch in what was actually one of the more crucial games of the season (chasing Tampa for first, you sure want to trot out a guy who’s never pitched in a big league game in the deciding game of a series, don’t you?).
There wasn’t someone else in Syracuse or Double A, or even in the bullpen who could have made that start and kept Richmond available for the Olympics?
I think it sucks and shows a complete lack of respect for the national team program.
Speaking of the SkyDome (or whatever it’s called now), you’d think the kabillion dollar scoreboard in centre field would, you know, show the score?
It does have a nice Rogers ad, doesn’t it?
Okay, basketball, the digression is over. For now.
As a Former Beat Grunt Turned Political Reporter But Still A Musicologist (and you’ll have to try to guess who that is) points out, the Houston Rocket locker room is now populated by Rafer Alston, Steve Francis and Ron Artest.
Yip! and Eeee!
That’s a dream team of dysfunction and story possibilities.
Don’t you feel so good for Rick Adelman right about now?
Anyway, I don’t think the acquisition of Artest does much to move the Rockets from where they are, maybe top five in the West. I’ve got them behind the Lakers, Spurs, probably the Jazz and likely the Suns and I still say they’re hard-pressed to win a playoff series.
Oh, and you know that Artest is going to do or say something foolish and costly during the season. He always has. Everywhere he’s been. Can’t see it changing all of a sudden.
As one of his former teammates once told me, and I’m paraphrasing a bit, “Ron’s great. We just gotta keep him on his meds.”
First report just in from our coach in Beijing (he arrived a few hours ago) and it can’t be better.
The dorm rooms are fine, the Blackberry works, no trouble at Customs and – get this – beer’s like 8 RMB (I’m guessing about a buck and half Canadian) at the media village store!
The trip’s looking better every day.
Last mail bit for the day
Q: I just read about how Australia's national basketball team defeated China in an Olympic warm-up due to 'dogged defense' where Yao and Yi where held in check all night. I got excited thinking our boy Jawai might have been involved in shutting down the Chinese big men.
Is he on the Australian national team? If not, why not? You can't tell me Summer League is more valuable than the Olympics and playing against Yao Ming or Dwight Howard.
I know they have Bogut from the NBA but that's it, right? One NBA centre and a bunch of guys who play in Europe ... sounds familiar. Except they're in the Games and we're not.
Rob M, Toronto
A: With all due respect to the Australian team, the qualifying process for them is exponentially easier than anything Canada has to do. They need to, basically, beat New Zealand in a best-of-three series to qualify for any Olympics or world championship.
And, no, Jawai is not on the national team, never has been. Frankly, they have better, much more experienced international players they’ve taken.