Final Final thoughts; and congrats to some Canadian kids
Oh, right. The draft.
Guess this means I have to get cracking on who’s good, who’s bad, who’s the favourite among the Raptors braintrust.
It’ll give me something to do, at least.
But first, a couple final final things:
|GARY W. GREEN/AP|
|Bryant signals victory with his wingman Gasol.|
Speaking of Phil, where’s this leave him?
You saw the nifty ‘X’ hat he was wearing after the game, from his kids, he said, and symbolizing his 10 championships as a coach, one more than the legendary Red Auerbach and most ever.
Is he now the best coach ever?
I guess you could make that claim, he’s won with Michael and with Shaq and now with Kobe, three of the top handful of players all time.
Red, of course, won mainly with Russell and Cousy and Havlicek and Jones, no slouches in that list, either.
Can you say Phil won in a watered down game? It is easier to beat 29 other teams with the talent spread around than it is another 10 or so? Was it easier to coach back then, with no agents to deal with, when what the coach said was gospel and if you disagreed, you could be in Fort Wayne, or unemployed, in the morning?
Is Zen calmness better than a victory cigar lit on the bench of a steamy arena?
Do we really need to pick one over the other?
Maybe we can celebrate the greatness of both of them and their flaws.
Phil can come across as condescending, a feeling that he’s the smartest man in the room and able to get that point across; Red was no picnic either, he’d gloat like the greatest gloater of all-time.
I’m not sure who “the best” is, to tell you the truth.
And I’m not entirely sure it matters.
But if I had one game to win, I’d want Red on the bench more than I’d want Phil. If I had one team to develop over the course of a season, to mesh diverse personalities, I’d probably rather have Phil.
But let’s put it this way: If you and I are choosing, I’ll let you take first pick and I’ll be quite happy with the guy left over.
Speaking of Kobe, where’s this leave him?
Well, he’s still not in my list of five greatest players, that’s for sure; but the way in which he led the Lakers through the final was indeed impressive.
He scored, he passed, he defended, he was a decoy. He did whatever had to be done and when they needed a big shot, he took it. And made it.
The Magic got off to a fast start in the first quarter last night but just when they were feeling good about themselves, Bryant made a couple of shots that kept the game manageable.
His show-the-ball-pump-fake-change-hands-fadeaway-bank-shot over Dwight Howard was a shot I’m not sure anyone else on the planet could make, let alone try.
He was a tour de force. And by a wide, wide, wide, wide margin the best player on the court every game.
People who don’t like him for whatever reason probably aren’t going to like him any more now that he’s got a championship to call his own.
But no one – no one – can doubt his playing abilities.
Speaking of Canada, how about taking a read of this?
That’s one of the most prestigious junior tournaments in the world that they won – albeit with some help from the good, old, U S of A – but they still beat some very good teams and the accomplishment cannot be laughed at.
I’ve said it here before but it bears repeating: I think Greg Francis is destined to be an excellent coach, this is a good group of young players who may ultimately restore Canada to some level of prominence on a world stage and what Canada Basketball is doing developing young players and giving them an opportunity to showcase their skills at a young age on the world stage is one of the best thing that group’s done in years and years and years.
An aside: Two of the kids on the American team – sponsored by a shoe company trying to get its clutches into teens – were Tristan Thompson and Corey Joseph – are Canadians and should be key parts of the program in the future.
Trouble is, in the cesspool that is high-stakes teenage basketball, the interests of the kids is sometimes lost. Personally, I think playing for Canada is more important than playing for Acme Shoe company, but that’s just me.
I have no idea if either of these kids is going to be any good – forget the NBA, I’ll reserve judgment until they’ve at least taken part in a college practice, let alone a game – but I think they shouldn’t turn their back on the national team program because some people in the States are promising them untold riches and opportunities.
But, again, that’s just me.
The Raptors? Oh yeah, the Raptors.
Bryan and The Henchmen spent most of the weekend in Jersey watching guys work out (the No. 9 pick wasn’t there, I was led to believe) but they are entering the final 10 days before the draft still with some work to do.
Last we heard, they were trying to set up a workout session for here tomorrow but no word on who’d be there.
If you look at the kids they’ve seen, though, they are all over the map, which has to be a good thing.
I surmise from talking to scouts and execs here and there that the Raptors are likely to retain the No. 9 selection but they also have a few irons in the fire to do some other stuff to either pick up a pick in a cash transaction and there are some trade talks bubbling just below the surface.
But, I warn you yet again: These are the days of disinformation and even good grunts are hard-pressed to find out what’s real and what’s fake out there. Read what you read with a cynical eye, think things through before reacting to every rumour out there.
What we’ll try to do before a week from Thursday is ferret out fact from fiction; it won’t be easy.