Some this, some that before we really get started out here
|JAE C. HONG/AP|
|The circus begins today.|
Yes, we’re a little bit late today, thanks mainly to these zany time zones that mess a fella up after a 12-hour travel day that includes seat 44B on the Minneapolis-L.A. part of the journey. And until you’ve been in seat 44B with the crying child in 45F and the must-ignore not-quite-classic He’s Just Not Into You playing on the tiny video screen, you haven’t lived.
But, as usual, I digress.
Not much going on yesterday, here or there, but the fun really gets started about 3:30 your time when we get our first crack at mass interviews. Fun? Oh yeah.
Oh, and because we know you love to talk, we’re planning a live chat tomorrow at noon your time to get this ball really rolling. Be there or be square.
Until then …
Scratching and searching for Raptors tidbits and all I can come up with after a travel day is this.
They certainly haven’t turned their back on Europe; Jay and Maurizio are headed to Europe at the end of the week for the Reebok Eurocamp and a look at the top 48 prospects over there.
But don’t expect them to come back raving about having to get this guy or that guy or some other guy.
According to a lot of scouts I talk to, Europe is pretty picked over. There might be some interesting second-round draft picks and a team may take a gamble on someone in the first round (outside of Ricky Rubio and Brandon Jennings, of course) but this trip is more about seeing guys for the future than it is finding someone for the present.
Here’s how it works out here, if you care or want to know.
The assembled crowds get half an hour a day to conduct interviews with each team and that’s not a lot of time so grunts better have an idea of what they want to write before we get to the practices.
The league brings each coach and two players to the interview room – you can be sure it’ll be Kobe and Pau for the Lakers today, Dwight and Lewis for the Magic – and the rest of the players are put behind podiums on the court.
It’s a zoo, as you can expect. Maybe 300 writers, TV talking heads, radio guys and sundry hangers-on crowded around everyone, trying to get their questions answered and their angles taken care of.
Game day? There is no post-shootaround access to the players, the locker rooms are open for their usual 45 minute period starting 90 minutes to game time but there are so many people crowding around the players are generally hiding in the back somewhere and the coaches do a short stint in the interview room.
What I’m saying is there is nothing really fresh. It’s finding good stories and telling them well.
A sign that we’re not in Kansas any more.
Walked across the street from the media hotel (the very nice Hollywood Renaissance for this leg of the journey) to bump into the Kodak Theatre and who’s the first person I see: A platinum blonde in a white dress standing over a grate waiting for a gust of air to blow.
I probably shouldn’t have stood and stared too long because Green Day (a collection of crooners, I’m told) was doing some in-store autograph session right next door and there was some outstanding live jazz band giving a free concert in the middle of the courtyard.
Yeah, sure makes one forget 44B pretty quickly.
The latest on Jameer Nelson?
Well, we’ll find out more at practice in a few hours but my man Brian from Orlando makes it sound like he’ll probably suit up in this story.
What’s it mean?
Probably not a lot. He won’t start and if he’s healthy he’ll be an upgrade on Anthony Johnson, that’s for sure. And the emotional bump he’ll give his team will be pretty substantial.
To say nothing of giving us a nice notebook item to write.
Let’s dip into the mail to get this oft-asked question out of the way:
Q: I would like to know your analyses on Stan Van Gundy as a coach? He has quite a bit of critics out on him, do you think he’s one of the best coaches in the NBA. And is he an offensive or a defensive coach? And who would you rather have behind your bench, him or his brother Jeff?
Mario A, Toronto
A: This gets to the heart of the “what’s a good coach” question, doesn’t it?
Is Stan a good coach because he got his team to the final? I’d say this year, yes he is. Is he a good coach because when his best player ripped him (see, Howard, Dwight, post-Game 5 vs. Boston), he challenged that same player to be better and that player was? I’d say yes. Is he a good coach because he seems to lose a bit of control in tense late-game situations when clam may be needed? I’d say no. Is he a good coach when Rafer’s 10-18 from the field and the Magic wins and a bad coach when Rafer’s 1-10 and the Magic lose?
The essential questions, to me, are these: Do the players respect him and try to implement that strategies he gives them? Yes.
Do his strategies make sense given his team’s skills and the opposition? Yes.
Does his team win? Yes.
So, yes, I think he’s a good coach.
Him or Jeff? I think Stan’s probably a coach more able to adapt, which is a big key.
So, David Stern was on ESPN radio yesterday and said he planned to speak to LeBron James about James blowing off the media and the Magic after losing the Eastern Conference finals.
And that’s a good idea.
I know losses hurt but it’s not like James is the first heavy favourite to lose a playoff series and the best always stand up and try to explain what happened. He was there for pre-game interviews, even before Game 6; he did every post-game up to that point and to not speak after being ousted was childish.
But then, the story out of Cleveland is that LeBron started his off-season in the operating room so I’m guessing that conversation is on hold indefinitely.