A whirlwind day of signings and news conferences and we haven’t even spoken yet to Nathan Jawai or Roko Ukic. It really does never end, it seems.
And judging by the mail I see over in the inbox, the six or seven hours I had planned for loafing before covering the big Canada-Brazil women’s soccer match is out the window.
)Yes, your humble beat grunt is moving over to women’s soccer, and softball, baseball, men’s field hockey, men’s water polo and Lord knows what else as the Beijing gigs. Lucky, lucky readers).
But don’t fret, it seems basketball never takes a break so we’ll stay grounded over here. After all, who’s going to ridicule summer league games if not me?
Speaking of the Summer League (and it ain’t the Celtics-Lakers of the 80s, that’s for sure), Eric Hughes serves as the Raptors head coach. It’s not unusual for veteran coaches like Sam to pass off the summer league game duties to an assistant, guess they chose Eric ‘cause it’s his turn or something.
The rest of the staff is there (they had some meeting at 7 a.m. in Vegas today to go over stuff) and Sam will coach the practices leading up to the first game.
How ‘bout them Canadas?
Now, no one actually saw the game in Germany yesterday so most opinion is based on hearsay and reports but a win is a win is a win. And it’s never easy to win an international friendly (oops, falling into football-speak) on the road so there is some significance to the result.
But most important is the fact Sam Dalembert played because, as more than a few people who would know pointed out last week, Canada cannot beat the big boys without some sort of anchor on the defence.
And being big and mobile and quick, Dalembert’s exactly the kind of anchor that’s useful in international games.
I still think it’s going to be uber-difficult for Canadato get one of the three Beijing spots next week in Athens but I’m getting more impressed with each game.
The good thing? There’s a legitimacy to the program now, having the games on TV next week is huge (they’ll be replayed Tuesday and Wednesday night by The Score, too), Canada Basketball is doing small things like setting up post-game conference calls with Leo and a player to make our jobs a wee bit easier and I sense people out there are starting to care more.
Now, if there’s a big-hearted corporation looking to spend some money, I know the folks would love to hear from you.
You can almost see ‘em hugging, can’t you?
Jose, yesterday, on Garbo:
"He’s my friend, that’s the first thing. I think it was the best thing for him, for everybody. He had a tough year with the injury, no one wants that, it’s bad luck but he’s happy. He’s happy, he’s doing okay. He’s my friend, if he’s happy, I’m happy, too. There’s nothing else.”
There’s a whole lot of love out there for Matt Barnes, who is one of the dozens of still-to-be-signed free agents floating around.
First off, I’m not sure where the suggestion comes that the Warriors, who are stumbling and bumbling along the free-agent path looking for a way to ease the pain of Baron Davis’s departure, aren’t going to keep him.
And, second, he made $3 million last year so unless he’s going to cut his salary by more than half, he’s not a fit here.
His game? It’s okay.
Of course Jermaine O’Neal was asked about the 2004 brawl. Here’s what he said:
"My situation was, I saw a teammate who was having some problems with the fans, a fan was literally on top of him. And at that particular time it wasn’t about basketball, it wasn’t about anything, it was people that were really, really trying to hurt us.
"Now, we’ve got 12, 13 players there. Obviously Detroit has the biggest arena in the NBA and there was like 14,000 people still there. And it was extremely … it was chaos. People were picking up chairs and throwing them.
"At that point, you really don’t have a chance to really evaluate a particular situation, you have to make the best decision for yourself and your teammates. I made my decision, I went to court, won the court case against the NBA, won the civil, won the criminal. I didn’t lose a case. My view was the view of every juror and the proof is in the pudding.
"Being put in that position, if I had to do it all again, and if a teammate was having that … I mean, people have lives. I think that’s something that gets overlooked. I think fans and the general public think because we get paid a certain amount of money we’re not really human, but we go home to our families, we go home to our wives, girlfriends, brothers and sisters and if somebody is killed – and somebody could have got killed in that particular situation, there was no security whatsoever to help us – how do you explain to your teammates family that you could have did something to prevent that person dying.
"I’m hoping that nothing like that ever happens again and I’m damn sure hoping that nothing like that happens with any team I’m on, but if put in that position to protect my teammate, I would definitely do that again to help my teammate.”
A quick one from the mailbag before I head off to answer mail:
Q: Doug, how can Philly trade the contracts of Carney and Booth to Minny without taking contracts of equal value back?
Barry K, Ridgeway
A: Minnesota was under the cap so they could take on salary and also had what’s known as a “trade exception” which, in the most simple explanation, is the difference in salaries of traded players, an amount that can be used in a transaction for one calendar year.