Hey, hey, the gang's all here
Ho. Ho. Ho. And all that junk.
Everybody had a nice day? Hanukkah celebrations are going well? Kwanzaa starts today, right? Well, go and celebrate your little brains out. Me? I’m going to look out the hotel window at the state capitol here in Sacramento and see if I can see Arnie and the kids playing with the Christmas loot.
And figuring out time zones and shootarounds and stupidly early flights (6 a.m. outta here tomorrow to Portland) while trying to keep you all entertained and informed.. Fun? Wow!
Yes, they all got back from various locales, had a good little practice Thursday night and then a tasty team dinner, I’m told.
The fact everyone got back is a bit surprising, seems there’s always one who is a bit tardy or gets hit by bad weather or whatever. Historically, it was Mo Pete but since he’s left, everyone seems to be on time after Christmas and all-star weekend breaks.
Best sight I didn’t see?
Seems Jason Kapono got back before everyone, or after everyone, or whatever it was, and he didn’t meet the team at the hotel for the 20-minute bus ride to Arco.
A couple of people were worried that he was pulling a Mo until they got there and were greeted by Jason on the court, in cords, a Santa hat and bare feet, getting up some shots.
|PHELAN M. EBENHACK/AP|
|Things we saw on Christmas Day: Dwight Howard's new shoes.|
Did you watch all those games on Christmas?
Travel requirements took the first three out of the loop for us and the Suns-Spurs and Lakers-Celtics games sure looked good. Not so much the Magic and Hawks, though. I can only imagine the lethargy that would accompany a noon start on Christmas Day.
The night games? Well, I noticed that Mike James didn’t lose any of the confidence he’s got in his shot and it was worth watching Dallas-Portland just to see holiday-themed green and red uniforms.
Speaking of Christmas Day lethargy, I recall with little fondness the only Dec. 25 game in Raptors history, the 102-94 loss in New York in 2001. I remember everyone being all excited about being on American national television and playing in the Garden on Christmas and they came and laid a big, old stinky egg. No energy, no buzz, no fun.
Just remember that if they’re ever scheduled again for a big-time holiday afternoon game.
Who doesn’t like a Chicken question?
Q: OK, I need you settle a $100.00 bet, I have with a co-worker! What teams in the league DO NOT have a stuffed animal working supporting their team? I said the Blazers, Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, and Pistons
CH P, Toronto
A: There’s not much better than a chicken question. Except for you, that is.
Sorry to cost someone money but I guess you’ve missed xxx Cat out in Portland or Hooper down in Detroit. Now, they are hardly among the top five or 10 stuffed animals in all of Chickendom, but they do exist.
I’m sure you all saw, or heard about the deal where the NBA is letting fans pick the fourth guy in the dunk contest? Dwight Howard, Nate Robinson and Rudy Gay are already in and fans can choose between Rudy Fernandez, Russell Westbrook or Joe Alexander as the fourth.
Entirely underwhelming, no? I mean, really. Rudy Fernandez, Russell Westbrook or Joe Alexander?
Yes, the dunk contest has lost a lot of its allure and I’m quite all right with that. Of all the stupid things about all-star weekend, it’d be right behind the ridiculous rookie-sophomore challenge in stuff I’d be glad to miss.
(I will tell you this: I saw Rudy Fernandez dunk on Dwight Howard, I believe it was, in Beijing and that was as impressive a play as I saw at the Games)
Here’s what they’re saying in Sacramento today, where the big story in sports pages is which provides a better brand of basketball, all things considered: The NBA, colleges or high schools.
Okay, let’s say the Raptors win tonight and out-score the Warriors on Monday. That makes ‘em 3-3 on this trip and does it take some of the sting out of the Oklahoma game? And would you have taken 3-3 when they left town? Methinks a lot of you would have and it’s still a very attainable record for the journey.
Another dip into the mail:
Q: Hey Doug. List time. Right now - who are the top 5 point guards in the East? Excluding Wade and Iverson because they essentially play the two, I have Devin Harris, Jameer Nelson, Mo Williams, Rajon Rondo, and Jose Calderon.
Jim K, Newmarket
A: If I had to rank ‘em?
I’d have the same five as you but I’d do Harris, Rondo, Calderon, Nelson, Williams.
I know Nelson’s going really well right now but, taking everything into consideration, that’s how I’d rank them. Of course, when their careers -- heck, even when their seasons are over -- it might change but that’s today’s list.
So, told you it’d be short and sweet today. Now that we’ve got these infernal holidays almost past us, we can get back to some kind of normal schedule around these parts.