Just got done watching the Croatia-Lithuania basketball game and it was excellent, just like this entire tournament’s been, I’m told.
Am going to check Spain-USA later and that’ll be my second time seeing each of them but today was the first time I’ve been able to sit for a couple of hours and watch games.
The gym’s right around the corner from the ball park so it’s a nice place to settle in for six or eight hours.
Roko? He looked all right against Lithuania, nothing spectacular. I wonder about his foot speed and his handle (he looked like he was carrying the ball every time he dribbled it and that might work in Europe but it probably won’t in the NBA) but he looked solid.
He made a couple of great drives on isos where he got easily to the rim and his decision making seemed very good. Trouble was, every time he decided to pass the ball to ex-Net Zoran Planinic, it was like passing it into a black hole. I don’t think the guy gave the ball up once in the entire game.
How’d I get from the ball yard to the gym, you ask? Well, let me tell you.
It’s about a kilometre between the two, and a rather serpentine walk with a couple of security checks and a back alley or two to take so I figured I’d find the shuttle that allegedly goes between the two venues.
Go by the bus stop, ask about it and the friendly young volunteer (actually every volunteer is almost too friendly) frowned and told me I just missed it. I was in no rush so I told her I’d wait for the regular bus, which goes from the main press centre to baseball to basketball and was probably half an hour away from arriving.
She would have none of that and it started this mad hunt between her and about three of her buddies to get me taken care of. About 10 minutes later, a 10-seat golf cart-like contraption shows up with three more volunteers, I’m ushered into it with all sorts of apologies for making me wait.
Ten minutes later, I’m in the gym watching basketball and another group of volunteers gets high praise.
These people cannot do enough for us.
Only at an Olympic media village here can you go through the buffet breakfast line and see eggs next to har gow and bacon next to shu mai. Makes for a delightful culinary start to the day.
There’s the Red chicken. Right here at basketball.
And it’s performing during a timeout with the Olympic Dream Dancers.
Trust me, the Whatever They’re Sponsored Next Year By Dance Pak have nothing to be worried about.
Although the Beijing Dream Dancers, who did the halftime gig at Argentina-Iran, look suspiciously like NBA dance team callups.
One from the mail, and thanks for all the cards and letters
Q: Hi Doug.
Since you cover so many sports at the Olympics just wondering if you have followed the Michael Phelps sensation. I know I'm Canadian BUT I can't wait to see his next race each and every time. So much is printed here about it just wondered if you guys sit around discussing it on the roof top. Comparing him to other great athletes from various sports. What do you guys have to say?
Dee-Ann L, Mississauga
A: I haven’t had a chance to see Phelps but we sure talk about him. Usually bleary-eyed on the bus over to the press centre in the morning ‘cause guys are wondering how they’ll write another story about him.
He’s incredible, best Olympic athlete I’ve ever known (I saw him swim four years ago in Athens and he’s better here, obviously). And that seems to be the opinion of the people I talk to over here, incredible talent.
Now, on the roof, though, we’re talking about more important things, like who’s getting the next round, why they don’t sell Rickard’s White here and how the Little League team’s doing.
Oh, and what we’re covering the next day.
Three medals. One day. Wow. What a country.
Take that, Togo, and whoever else is behind us now.
Things you only see at basketball events like this. Two seats to my left at this very moment, a “journalist” is enjoying what appears to be his fourth or fifth Tsing Tao. Maybe he’s with the guy the other night who watched Greece-USA two seats down from me waving his flag and cheering wildly.
Which brings me to:
Q: Heya Doug, I remember reading in the blog a while back that you don't consider yourself a Raps "fan". I believe you explained that a professional reporter cannot (or at least should not) be a fan of the team they're covering. [Please correct me if I'm wrong!]
Now that you're out there in Beijing covering people and teams representing your country, have you found yourself crossing that line of reporter to fan? Maybe a fist-pump at a home run, or disappointment at yet another late game meltdown?
Charlie D, Montreal
A: Cannot and should not is right, on the Raptor front.
But you know what? It’s different at these things. You do get caught up in wanting the locals to do well, not to the point of blatant cheering but I do admit I’ve smiled a couple of times when a Canadian has done something significant.
The good reporters and writers – a group in which I include myself – can distance themselves, though, when it comes to reporting and writing. We can ask the hard questions and write the critical copy.
But, and I would bet anyone here with a Canadian credential on would agree if they were really, really honest, we feel good watching medals won. And a bit proud, as a matter of fact.
I’m at baseball the other day and so was my friend the Green chicken and he/she/it has the crowd, if not in stitches, at least mildly entertained.
And as it and its buddy Black chicken were running in front of the dugout, all I could think was how never in a million years would anyone smack it on the back of the head and send it tumbling like that dude did in Milwaukee that timeOlympians just carry themselves with more class or something. Or everyone’s afraid they’d be arrested for chicken assault and never be heard of again.