Does there have to be a greatest ever?
Big day around these parts. Steve Nash interview this morning, lunch with him around noon, goofing off in the afternoon.
But first …
Since there’s really not any news to do with this local team here, let’s expand the horizons a little bit; which is something I think we should do here more often this coming season, don’t you?
(The debate among some at our office is whether we’re trying to cater to Raptors fans or basketball fans. I have always held we should do more league stuff, maybe we’ll start a concentrated effort this season. Digression done).
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Anyway, it’s Hall of Fame weekend, as we all should know and that Jordan fellow goes in tomorrow night.
There have been all kinds of tributes, and will be for the next 48 hours for sure, and the consensus is that he’s the greatest player to ever play the game.
There is no doubting his skill, his determination, his work ethic, his ability to make those around him better, his championships. He was singularly skilled and had a will to win that I cannot imagine being duplicated.
He was the best I ever saw and I feel privileged to have watched him.
But to declare him the greatest ever? I honestly don’t know, mostly because of the apples and oranges part of the debate.
Was he better than Oscar Roberston? Was he better than Bill Russell?
We can say yes but by what measure? Oscar didn’t win as much but played with inferior players most of his career, it can be said. Russell won more titles but played with better players, his teammates were Hall of Famers in their own right.
How much of Jordan was marketing? We saw so much of him, on TV and in videos, that there were times you couldn’t escape him if you wanted. But what if they lived in an era of 24-hour sports networks, the Internet, and YouTube when Oscar played? Or Russell?
Would that sway anyone? Jordan was a “brand” almost as much as he was an athlete, it was the cutting edge of the wave that’s brought us to this point of tweets and video and the like.
The way I look at it is this:
Enjoy the memories of Jordan as you should, we may never see another like him. But also save some spot in the mind’s eye for Robertson and Russell.
I don’t think you ever can say one athlete is the greatest of all time because all times are not equal, all circumstances not the same.
Isn’t it enough to simply revel in what we had instead of making impossible comparisons? Isn’t there room for a group of “greatest evers” that can include more than one guy?
I think so.
With news filtering out yesterday that Allen Iverson is joining a Memphis team that already includes O.J. Mayo, Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay, I feel it’s my duty to report that the NBA record for fewest assists per game by a team is 15.6, set by Atlanta in the lockout-shortened 50-game 1998-99 season.
Just pointing it out for future reference.
Hardly any surprises out of Eurobasket with the first round completed. The teams expected to be eliminated were indeed eliminated although Latvia really kind of got screwed. They win but lose because they didn’t win by enough.
But check out this game report and don’t feel too sorry for them, they gave up a couple of huge buckets when they could least afford it in the dying seconds and – Golden State fans, if any exist, please take note – Andris Biedrins missed six of eight free throws and his team missed 19 in total.
We’ll check out the second round tomorrow; this edition here is going to get a bit long anyway.
One of the big reasons I really enjoy Jerry Sloan.
Before every Raptors-Jazz game I can remember since I started covering the team, Sloan and his assistants wander into the press room about two hours before tip-off and have dinner.
Same as the rest of us lowlifes (not sure they pay like we do, I presume they’re part of the traveling party that gets the free grub); they sit with us, chow down on the same meal and shoot the breeze if you want.
Just like the regular pressroom inhabitants.
And he’s the only NBA head coach I’ve ever seen do that.
Travelogue time: According to people in the know, the entire coaching staff’s in town now working out DeRozan, O’Bryant and Weems and the rest of the tam is due in “no later than next week” according to the fellow I talked to yesterday.
Hitherto, at least by the recollection of some involved, untold Jordan-in-Toronto story.
Bulls vs. Raptors at the Dome, had to be in the team’s second season, a Sunday afternoon game.
The players line up for the tip, all tense and ready to give their very best for all the paying customers and just before the ball goes up, Jordan, hands on knees, anticipating, looks over at the scorers’ table.
And winks at one of the women sitting there. A woman, I have to add, who is no longer employed by the basketball team.
The debate is going to wage on whether or not this is the greatest class to go into the Hall of Fame in a single year.
You can check out the year-by-year inductions here and I have to say, you could certainly make the case that Jordan, Robinson and Stockton would be right at the top of the discussion, can’t you?
I’m guessing the ’08 class with Barkley, Olajuwon, Ewing and Adrian Dantley would be high on anyone’s list, as would ’80 with Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and Jerry Lucas. I suppose ’93 -- Dr. J, Calvin Murphy, Walt Bellamy and Dan Issel – would get some love.
Other than that? Well, I can’t see a standout fifth, actually.
Hall of Fame trivia
Four people directly associated with the Raptors are enshrined.
Can you get ‘em all?
No prize to the winner but some self-satisfaction, I presume.
Okay, one last Jerry Sloan moment. And if I’ve told this before, sorry.
It’s one I laugh about just writing it.
We’re out there in Haffa’s rookie season, pretty early in the year if I recall, and Sloan’s doing his media stuff after the morning shootaround.
(An aside: You do remember that Araujo went to Brigham Young and the late Larry Miller, who owned the Jazz at the time, had told local reporters they would have taken him had the Raptors not made the surprise choice).
So, this young woman from a local Utah radio station, I believe it was, says to Sloan:
“Well, coach, it’ll be interesting to get a look at Haffa tonight, won’t it.”
Almost spat out my coffee.
After it’s explained to Sloan who Araujo is and what Miller said, the coach gets a little, not exactly sheepish, but explanatory and says he doesn’t pay a lot of attention to draft stuff.
Me? I’m howling inside.
All right, off to see Captain Canada, will get to comments when I can.