Seriously now, folks
This is Real Men's Professional Basketball.
They get paid, they are alive (well, most of 'em as far as I can tell) and there are baskets.
Seriously now, folks
This is Real Men's Professional Basketball.
They get paid, they are alive (well, most of 'em as far as I can tell) and there are baskets.
Join Doug Smith at at noon Wednesday for a live basketball Q&A, as the Raptors get ready to take on the L.A. Clippers.
Everyone well rested after a day off? Good, because we’re back at it for another game day today and I have a feeling that if things don’t go well against the Clippers tonight, the ugly mood of Monday will look like Mardi Gras in comparison.
Have a nice night.
The issue of “chemistry” with the local heroes has been a subject bandied about with great regularity over the last month or so when a promising season got a little bit off the rails.
People have wondered if there was some divisive locker room issue that was causing problems, whether this guy liked that guy or that guy like that other fellow or whether they were getting along well enough to be a functioning group.
It’s always been my contention that losses lead to finger-pointing too often and that was the problem, nothing more deeply rooted than that, and that a win or two and everything would be sunshine and puppy dogs again instead of storm clouds and pitbulls.
Well, because I wondered if maybe there was some legitimate dislike between some of the players – and I have to admit there were moments where it looked as if they truly disliked each other – I figured I’d ask.
I went to three players whose opinions I truly respect and who have been honest and forthright with me every time I’ve asked them a question about anything.
I’m not going to tell you who they are because I asked them on the condition of anonymity so they wouldn’t worry about having to sugarcoat any answer. But, trust me, I trust them to tell me the truth.
And all of them said it’s not an issue, that they do get along, they do respect each other (and that’s more important than holding hands and singing songs) and there are no underlying issues.
They agree that losses make it hard to feel all sweetness and light but the issues is more of performance than personality. As one of them said:
“It’s like we’ve got a switch and we leave it in the ‘off’ position too much and when it gets hard, we don’t know how to turn it on. If we do, we can be good. Really good. But we have to do it. It’s not coaches, it’s not management, it’s us. We have to know how good we can be and just do it.”
With a weird weekend coming up – Saturday afternoon in Philly’s a rather odd game time before an early Sunday evening game with the Golden State – I’m not sure when we might end up having a Festival Of Mail.
But whenever we do, we’ll need some submissions so I better start the solicitation process.
Click here, send ‘em along and if you’d like to diminish the number of rants, it’d be greatly appreciated.
As perhaps I’ve mentioned, Antoine Wright’s gone way up in my estimation the last little while, not only for his play but for his actions and his willingness to demand things of himself, his teammates and his coaches.
It helps, obviously, that he’s playing well because that always makes the message easier to take and I was asking Jay about “leadership” and whether Wright brings it to a team that needs it.
“He’s a leader because he’s doing what we ask him to do, which is play at the defensive end of the floor.
“Antoine just finds a way to get in front and fight and get through screens and help side and still do what we ask him to do.”
Considering that some of these guys have a hard time consistently doing what’s asked of them – like play hard and well at both ends of the floor every night – Wright does seem to stand alone.
I’ve long thought there was some kind of void in outward leadership on this club, it’s nice to see someone who’s playing well take it on.
In Los Angeles, where you often need a search warrant to find Clippers coverage at this time of the season, they read this in the paper this morning after another loss, this time in Milwaukee.
(Oh, and this is an Eric Smith idea that I heartily endorse and that the powers that be around Raptors land have blown for another year: Tonight should, without a doubt, be one of those throwback games where the Raptors are the Huskies and the Clippers wear old Buffalo Braves jerseys. Maybe, someday, somebody with some foresight in the front office will see the wisdom of our ways and do it.)
Hey, you know we Canadians have a lot of love for Steve Nash, given all he’s done for the country and how remarkably well he’s represented us for years, right?
Well, add another one to the list after last night.
I don’t know how many saw it but his finish last night when Phoenix did the Heroes Of The Hardcourt a big favour by beating the Chicagos was vintage.
A great and-one when he made Brad Miller look like me, a couple of nifty assists and a few clutch free throws and all of a sudden the locals have a two game lead and the tiebreaker over the Bulls with nine to go.
I’m not saying they’re home and cooled out here but it’s not looking all that bad.
They’re grieving in 90210 after the DWTS episode and the Pussycat Dolls favourite is still looking good.
(That’s code for those of you who aren’t Irregulars).
For the life of me – and to keep up what’s been a tradition here of late since I’m tired of talking about how mopey the mopes were getting – I’m having a hard time coming up with any good Clippers-related Raptors yarns.
Outside of the old one – the 152-120 beatdown that was a layup line back in the 16-66 season when Darrick Martin had 20 or something silly like that and it was disgusting all around – there are precious few “moments” involving these two storied franchises.
So maybe all I’ve got is that the old L.A. Sports Arena, where they used to play before moving to Staples, was one of the scariest places in the league
I think it was after that 152-point game that we walked out only to be told that we should wait until an armed guard could walk us the 100 metres or so to our car because the neighbourhood was a tad, um, sketchy.
Oh, and it was smelly, too.
An old colleague who’s gone on to fame and fortune interviewing the likes of Julie Andrews, once tagged it The PeePee Palace for the odour the wafted through the hallways.
Speaking of speaking, we’ll be here at noon to answer questions for an hour if anyone wants to stop by. And I can’t imagine we’ll match the angst- and anger-filled four-figure crowd we got Monday but we’ll still be here.
Everyone feeling a bit better today? Breathing a bit easier?
Now, I know the Raptors got back on the ground in Toronto about 12:30 Tuesday morning. Please, for the love of all that’s good in the world, if anyone saw any of them out getting a bite to eat and perhaps a drink, I do not want to know about it.
The new Manu?
Not quite. But we were goofing with Hedo after the game that Sixth Man of Year might be something he’d like to consider.
“It’s too late for that, huh? Not enough games for that.”
But he, and you, should get used to it because I can’t see them going away from Weems for the rest of this season. And it seems everyone’s quite okay with that.
Turk, a pre-game media session, said he’s got no problem with the decision, Jay likes the athleticism the new lineup brings and there’s no way they should change it in the next nine games.
Actually, no one should be at all surprised at Hedo’s reaction.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over this season is that his default position is to laugh and joke and smile. It’s not that he isn’t upset or angry or disappointed in his effort but his immediate reaction to anything is to smile and laugh. It’s his character and it’s not going to change at this point in his life.
It may not fit the prototypical personality we like in our athletes, he doesn’t slam the ball to the floor or act disgusted or give the greatest angst-filled quotes. But it’s who he is and that’s got to be accepted.
Now, as a backup? Well, it’s not like he’s going to come into games and energize them or up the tempo or get the crowd roiling but he looked last night like a pretty solid second-unit guy.
And Jay made an interesting point before the game: When things were going well, Hedo, Jarrett and DeRozan were the starting backcourt. Now, they play together as a second unit and that can’t be all that bad.
If you look at the minutes distribution last night - Hedo at 28, Jarrett at 23 and DeMar at 20 – that’s not bad and I imagine that’s what we’ll see the rest of the way.
I know there had to be more than a few of you who were quite surprised, and likely upset, when 68.5 per cent free throw shooter Sonny Weems not only found himself on the court but at the line with the Raptors clinging to a two-point lead and 13.3 seconds left in the game.
The fact that he bricked the two foul shots must have led to more angst and visions of a total collapse. Well, here’s why he was there.
When Tyson Chandler dunked to make it 103-101 with 19.2 seconds left, the Raptors had one timeout to go. If they call it then, you know the Bobcats are going to foul on the inbounds pass and no matter what the Raptors do, Charlotte’s going to get the ball back.
And then, if they score with, say, 3.1 seconds left, the Raptors are not going to have a timeout to set something up to get a good shot, just like they ran out of timeouts the night before in Miami, when they sure could have used one down three with 1.9 seconds left.
And if the Bobcats don’t score, at least Jay’s got one left in his pocket to make offence-defence subs and move the ball about 60 feet up the court, which not only leaves them more space to in-bound it but makes it more difficult for Charlotte to go the length of the court and score off a steal.
That’s okay management, even if it meant Sonny had to be in an extremely difficult position.
The other thing to think about in that sequence is why, after the Chandler basket, did the Raptors inbound the ball to Bosh? Maybe he should have been the one taking it out, looking for one of the guards on the court instead of being the recipient of the pass.
Anyway, it worked out in the long run and I guess that’s all that really counts.
Our go-to guy
Antoine Wright’s becoming a huge fave among the grunts. Good quote, accessible, good guy who’s playing well. What more can we want?
Last night, before the game and after we’ve grilled Turk, Antoine shows up at his locker right next to Turk, bugging us to get out of his way.
During the course of the conversation, he tells us they’re winning the game, no doubt about it, and warns us that if they lose, to not come around his little piece of turf after the game.
After the game and after they win, we get into the room and there’s Wright with ice on his knees, his feet in ice buckets and he’s feeling pretty good about things.
And, of course, we need quotes.
Except for one thing: He’s going to shower, politely excuses himself and if the game hadn’t dragged for 2:26, we would have gladly waited for him to give us some pearls of wisdom. Except we can’t wait, deadline’s coming and as he’s wandering to the shower, we make mention that we could sure use a quote:
“I told you.”
And then he’s off.
A wee bit more? Just a wee bit because this is long enough.
You know what would have made the Turk Goes To The Club story even better?
If he’d gone from the game to a Nelly concert and danced on the stage.
That would have been cool.
You know how I’m always one to point out that you’re never “supposed” to win a game and that anything can happen and usually does?
Well, that generally holds true but I probably should note that the Los Angeles Clippers, they of the 27-46 record, play at Milwaukee on Tuesday night and probably won’t get to their Toronto hotel until after 2 a.m. Wednesday to face the Raptors to finish a back-to-back.
Does that mean Toronto’s “supposed to win?”
Here’s what Rick had to say in the cyber pages of the Observer this morning.
Right, the MJ story. Thanks for reminding me.
I’m sure I’ve told it before so you Irregulars who’ve heard it can scroll down.
It’s Portland, Tournament of the Americas, the Dream Team debut in 1992 and Michael’s playing, of course, and Jay’s an assistant coach with Ken Shields on the Canadian staff.
Jay and I are standing in a hallway of the old arena, just chewing the fat when who come walking down the hall all by himself but Michael.
I’m a bit in awe, I’m not sure how Jay feels and for sure neither of us are doing anything other than nodding, I imagine.
Well, doesn’t Michael see Jay and come to a dead stop, give him a big handshake, and tell him that there’s no way Jay should be coaching, he should still be playing and he’s way too young not to still be on the court.
Me? I’m dumb-founded and I think Jay’s a bit taken aback, too.
After a couple of minutes, Michael wanders off down the hall and Jay and I look at each other and, I swear, neither of us could say a word.
So the other night in Miami, before the game starts, I notice Jose waving to some folks in the stands and after the game, I see him stop for a real quick hello with someone on his way to the locker room.
Figure it’s family or close friends and when I asked him about it, he kind of shrugged it off by telling me it’s just some people from Spain he knows. No big deal.
Well, my new friends and Raptor stalkers (Hello, London!) tell me in Charlotte on Monday that, no, it wasn’t just “some people” from Spain, it was in fact Rafael Nadal's Nadel’s family that Jose was hanging out with.
Seems they were in Miami for some big tennis tournament, they got together for breakfast and Jose runs in pretty good company.
All right, ladies and germs. Got a good afternoon flight which gives me time to write an off-day yarn before flying on what could be quite a relaxing day.
Wish me luck.
And be back here Wednesday at noon to ask questions.
All ready for some Real Profess ...
Ah, never mind.
Join Doug Smith at at 1 p.m. Monday for a live basketball Q&A, as the Raptors get ready to take on the Charlotte Bobcats.
You know what? It was kind of fun to sit and watch a game with no deadline pressure looming and no in-game blog to work on.
But, alas, that’ll be the last time for that this season; we’ll be back to the usual schedule tonight in Charlotte.
And I’m sure some of you will have something to say about this stuff.
Go to it, kids.
A tough lesson to teach
I’m sure you’ve all read about the DNP-CD for Hedo on Sunday night (if you haven’t, it’s right here) and what it meant to the team and to him.
No one has really covered themselves in glory in this somewhat sordid situation and that’s one of the most troubling aspects of the whole affair.
I have no idea if Hedo was out Friday night eating, partying or just killing time before bed like a lot of us do. But, no matter what, the optics aren’t great and I am sure the folks in the upper levels of Raptors brassdom are singularly unimpressed with having to deal with it.
After all, Hedo’s been a bust for much of this season, this just adds to it.
And I can understand entirely that Jay – and you know he had to have let his bosses know what he was planning to do and it met with their approval – would want to send a message by dressing Turk and not using him.
But I also know Jay could have done a better job explaining it to us after the game. In his defence, it’s a pretty emotional time immediately after but he had to know the questions were coming and could have handled it better.
That all said, the question is: What’s next?
Well, I think reasonable men can work out their differences and get past issues and I would imagine Turk’s back doing what he does tonight in Charlotte. I don’t know whether he’ll start but he should play.
It was also interesting to get the players’ reaction to all of this and what happened in the game.
Almost of ‘em distanced themselves from the issues, we got a couple of “that’s a management thing” and a “I’m not sure what’s going on, you have to ask them” and then Social Conscience Antoine Wright (and I mean that in a complimentary way because I like the fact he has opinions and states them) chimed in:
“We’re in support of Hedo, he’s our teammates, we want to see him back on the court but management is handling that.”
But what about sending a message and the cost:
“I don’t make them decisions, man. I think we need everyone n this locker room to play basketball in my personal opinion.”
Can’t do their thing
The Heat really didn’t play some suffocating defence in that fourth quarter but the Raptors didn’t do themselves any favours, either.
They’re up six when there’s a timeout with just under five minutes to go and Jay uses the break to get Jose and Sonny back in for Jack and DeRozan so he’s got his starters on the court for the stretch run.
And what do they get out of the timeout:
An airballed Wright three at the shot clock buzzer after they ran around like chickens with their heads cut off for about 22 seconds.
Hardly crisp execution.
How’s your hindsight?
When it first happened, I was somewhat stunned that Jose would foul Carlos Arroyo with the Raptors down two in what was a pretty pivotal play in the game.
A quick look at the clock made me think they should have played out the possession, got a stop and then tried to tie or win with a last possession.
(Of course, that’s putting a lot of faith in a Raptors defence that probably would have surrendered an and-one to Wade but that’s another story).
Anyway, up further review of the play by play, there was only a 2.9 second difference between shot clock and game clock (I thought it was a bit over four) and in that case the foul makes sense.
If they play out the possession and the Heat do the right thing and take a shot as the clock runs out, it’s going to take a second for the ball to get on the rim, a half second or so to rebound the ball and that doesn’t really leave enough time to get something good at the other end.
So they made a choice and it didn’t work out because not only didn’t they score but the Heat (read Arroyo) didn’t miss a free throw down the stretch.
But I’m okay with the decision after some time to think about it.
Minor points and story-telling time
The Heat do this really cool thing right after the anthems and before the game where they recognize an American serviceman who’s back home after serving his country in one of the various wars the U.S. is waging.
A very nice touch where they have the person introduced flanked by a couple of players as the fans stand and applaud.
Odd last night, though.
It was Joel Anthony and Jamaal Magloire who were at midcourt for the ceremony.
My man Ira has this to say about that.
We see a whole lot of Chris Bosh love on the road in cities where he’s considered a good free agent possibility.
Miami, of course, one of them and the guy sitting a few rows up from the court across from where we were sitting holding the life-sized cutout of Bosh in a Heat jersey may win the prize for most creative.
But here’s the deal, there is not a single player on the Miami team not named Dwyane Wade that I’d take in a sign-and-trade.
I’ve never, ever been a Michael Beasley fan and watching that performance against Toronto only affirms my position.
Never mind the atrocious shooting, that’ll come and go, he simply has no interest in defending.
So unless there’s some magical multi-team sign-and-trade rattling around in Bryan’s mind – or Steve Fruitman’s – it’s going to cost Bosh about $30 million to go play in South Florida.
Hey, did you see that the Bulls won?
Half a game lead for eighth?
They come home tied on Tuesday?
Think the collars will be a little tight?
Oh yeah, we’ll talk. A bit later than usual because of flight times and travel times and the need to walk around the corner from my Charlotte hotel for a quad vente non-fat latte the minute I get in but we’ll answer questions.
Let’s go at 1 p.m. today, I’ll be here if you are.
Tough crowd, especially the kids.
I’m talking the pre-teen about four rows behind us last night with the screechy pre-teen voice who yelled “Raptors, you suck” about a kabillion times.
No idea what dad or mom or whoever was doing but it wasn’t parenting.
So you read how Ira chronicled the game just past, here’s how Rick sets up the game to come.
Oh yeah, disregard that earlier post about not getting this up on time. Turns out I’m pretty good at this gig and the security torture at Miami International’s relatively new south terminal wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected.
See what I do for you folks? Thanks are always gratefully accepted.
(So are gifts but that’s an entirely different story)
Time to board the big bird for Charlotte. See ya.
Ah, good intentions.
Yeah, the plan was to get up well before the sun and get the usual pap and drivel done before the flight up to Charlotte but that seems not to have happened.
We’ll give it shot from the airport but I don’t know if that’ll work so it may be closer to noon before you get to read the day-after stuff.
But we’ll get it done as soon as we can and the plan – if it’s okay with the home office – is to push back the game-day question and answer session to 1 p.m. from noon.
So keep checking back here. You never know what you’ll see when.
Oops. Never mind
Have at it, boys and girls, and you’ll have some extra time today.
Remember, the folks who run things at the arena down here and Miami have yet to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 2000s so there’s no wireless courtside which means there’ll be no in-game blog tonight.
Have a nice time.
Q: Hi Doug. I was just wondering if and what rules there are regarding speaking with refs after the game. Are they allowed to talk to the press at all? Are there limitations to what they can and cannot talk about? And are there any off-the-record conversations about "hey you really missed that one..."?
A T, Niagara Falls
A: Yes, there are, and it’s a situation close to my heart this season in my PBWA role.
Referees – and only the crew chief – are allowed to comment only on specific interpretations of rules, nothing subjective, and only if they want to.
What happens is a “pool” reporter – one man or woman representing the group covering a specific game who then shares the answers with everyone – approaches the referees through the home team’s public relations department seeking comment.
We had some issues earlier this year where referees didn’t want to comment and when we pressed the league on it at our all-star weekend meeting, we changed the process slightly, deciding to approach them with written questions, rather than risk misinterpretation in a conversation with a team official.
And the one time that was tried, it worked and the stories were better and more thorough.
Now, if I meet up with a ref I know in, say, a Marriott concierge lounge over breakfast and we talk about teams or games, it’s always, always, always off the record and my general rule of thumb is to keep the conversation generic – people with know mutually, travel woes, family – rather than game specific.
Q: Hey Doug. You've always kept the old school approach to sportswriting, meaning you respect players' personal lives. Obviously, Toronto is still a big city where athletes, thankfully in my opinion, can have lives outside the public eye, which isn't the case in other places (TMZ in the States, the tabloids in England and Spain).
However, is there a point where you drop the dime on a player and call him out if he or she was perhaps out 'til last call the night before a game, and it apparently affects their effort the next day? Or do you assume the coaching staff knows what happens and will deal with it themselves, therefore there's no need for media to publicize it
Tim F, Toronto
A: Thanks, I like old school and am quite proud of my ethics that way.
And n 15 years doing this gig, and 30 in the business, I can’t think of specific situation where there was a need to “call a guy out” for what he did off the court and its impact on it.
Q: Doug, I admit to being a wee bit biased on this issue but can you please shed some light on why Rasho didn't see the floor at all against the Jazz? With CB4 and Il Mago struggling and the Raptors generally having problems rotating on defense and boxing out, I would have thought it would make sense to bring in the big with the best all-around post skills on the team. I know Rasho doesn't run so well anymore, but the Jazz run a half-court offense and Memo Okur (although a decent outside shooter) is never going to be mistaken for Usain Bolt. What am I missing? Was he perhaps having trouble hearing Jay call his name because of all the booing?
Mike D, Markham
A: Never thought of the booing aspect, you may be on to something there.
While, yes, Rasho has had his moments this season – usually in a starting role – I don’t think the coaching staff shares your enthusiasm for his abilities or the impact he’d have on a game.
Not saying they’re right just that’s the way they think.
Toss in the fact Jay doesn’t want to play four bigs in a game, let alone five, because it disrupts things more than he’d like, it’d be a stretch to think you’ll ever see Rasho in that kind of circumstance.
Q: Is there something about your own work you feel you're still trying to master?
Steve M, Toronto
A: Of course there is. Aside from continually trying to find the perfect turn of phrase or the time to report and write the most compelling story I ever have, patience in dealing with the myriad “interactions” with the lovely readers is still a task to be mastered.
Q: Hi Doug, Long time no write in here. I promise, no rants and just one straight forward question. When did mouth guards become so popular and why are they necessary? When was the last time someone lost a tooth playing b-ball? Dan Issel? Have they been mandated in the youth development programs and so players now are just used to them? Or is it fashionable? (I guess that was more than one question)_Certainly the Raptors don't play tough enough defense to worry about getting clocked by an elbow!! Sorry - that was a bit of a rant.
Tom D, Oakville
A: It’s been in the last decade, really, that mouthguards have come into vogue. I think, besides protecting against lost teeth, they also help reduce the impact on concussions of someone were to hit the floor quite hard (I know it rarely, rarely happens) but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Plus, there’s a lot of vanity involved in wanting to keep the pearly whites.
Q: It is obviously very concerning to see the Raptors in the state of affairs they are currently in. It does, however, paint several really interesting final weeks of the season for the squad, and the city that so desperately needs a champion. My question is this: You must be loving this! As a writer you need fuel for the fire, and the current lousy play in desperate times must be kindling for the explosion! How does finding the answers from players and coaches play itself out when times are as they are? How do you maintain your relationships in good order and dig for the business of the day without getting people upset? Does it matter?
Ren R, Swastika
A: There are many, many, many here who will tell you that I don’t fuel the fire nearly enough, I’m too soft because there is not a daily spewing of vitriol. That’s not my style and I don’t foresee changing.
Loving it? Not really. In times like these – and I’ve been through them a few times in the 15 years covering this franchise – it’s often a case of we have nothing to ask and they have nothing to say. So, in some regards, it’s a harder gig in difficult times.
And as much as people would like to think a reporter can go up to a player or coach and say: “You suck. Comment?” that doesn’t work.
You maintain relationship, and the respect garnered over years of dealing fairly with men, by doing just that: Dealing with them with respect, asking the hard questions when they are called for but above all else, being professional and not some out-of-control fanboy.
(And yes, Chris Bosh had a tough finish with missed free throws and bobbled balls and a couple of missed drives and jumpers and he could have been better. Let’s talk about something else).
What else could they do?
Sometimes, you just don’t get a break.
On that last possession, the Raptors did pretty much everything they could all over the floor.
Antoine Wright did an excellent job on Carmelo, first by forcing him out about a yard further than he wanted to, and then by getting right up in him and forcing a jumper that was off from the second it left Anthony’s hand.
They got on the glass and boxed people out and it was a footrace to the loose ball over on the far side right by the sideline.
They didn’t win it – mostly because almost all of ‘em were inside their men on the glass – and when a play gets scrambled like that, no one knows what’s going to happen.
Boom, one pass, one shot, one bucket, one buzzer, one loss.
A tough one, no doubt but, as is often the case in pro sports, when things are going bad, a team cannot catch a break.
Feeding the beast
Saw something in the third quarter last night I don’t remember seeing too often and it was quite refreshing, actually.
About four times in succession, maybe five of six possessions or something like that (chicken scratch barely legible), the Raptors ran stuff in the post for Andrea.
Yes, he had the under-sized Joey Graham trying to guard him and it only made sense that the Raptors would try to exploit that mismatch. But so many times this year there’ve been similar situations – not just with Andrea but more often than not -- and they’ve tended to ignore them, it was good to see they went back to him repeatedly. Part of the problem in the past was that Bargnani would float out to the three-point line instead of getting inside and doing some hard work down low; last night he was fully engaged and animated and it had to be the best all-around game he’s played in quite some time.
Maybe one change
I know the matchups weren’t there because the Nuggets went small but I wonder if Andrea Bargnani shouldn’t have been on the court for that final Nugget possession.
I think everyone in the world knew that the play was going to be an iso for Carmelo so it’s not like Denver would have gone to the guy Andrea was guarding.
And the way Bargnani was rebounding, I think I would have liked him on the glass; and if Anthony hadn’t settled for a jump shot, I think I would have liked the team’s best shot-blocker trying to provide help.
Anyway, it wasn’t the reason they lost – it’s not like Andrea would have been quick enough to get to the loose ball as it squirted away – but he might have been able to do something on the initial miss to change the way the play unfolded.
A couple of little things before I head to the big bird for the longish flight.
(And I vow not to say: “Get up, bird” when we take off).
I really missed George Karl not being around last night.
He’s one of the visiting coaches you always want to go listen to before the game because you’ll usually get some good insight and a good quote.
A top five list? Sure.
I try never to miss pre-game, or at least shootaround chats with:
Stan Van Gundy
A Did You Know
Yes, we all know Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony are Olympic gold medalists but there was a third on the court last night.
Yes, the referee, who is probably a more accomplished player than a lot of guys he was blowing the whistle on.
Wood was on the 1984 Olympic gold medal team (he would have played against Jay Triano in Los Angeles) and was a former first round draft pick (10th overall, 1984) by the Sixers.
Ran into him, Joey Crawford and Tony Brown after the worked the Portland game in a little decompression session back the hotel and he’s quite a good guy.
Soild ref, too.
And having played 274 NBA games, he will have had a lot longer career than a bunch of the guys on the court Friday night.
What’d they write about in Denver?
Glad you asked.
In keeping with a burgeoning tradition of telling stories about the city and team the Heroes Of The Hardcourt are facing next, here’s a little Miami yarn.
(And it’s a tradition that’s burgeoning because, quite frankly, there’s not much to say about THOTH every day right now. You like it?) Anyway, it’s a Sam Mitchell story so it’s pretty good and I’ll un-X rate it if I must.
Not sure of the year but they’re down there for a game and they’re getting drilled pretty badly, as I recall.
There have been some suspect calls throughout the game, at least in the opinion of the aggrieved S. Mitchell and, finally, he snaps.
Gets him tossed out of the game and I guess he figures that if he’s going to go, he’s going out with a bang.
He walks about 15 feet on to the court and points directly at each of the three officials, who are spread out over the floor. He points at each of them and says:
“And bleep you.”
Now, among the people courtside is a bigwig league official who was there on a playoff site survey checking out the arena and to this day, when I see that guy at an all-star game or finals, he tells he remains a it afraid of Our Man Sam.
Okay, since the plan tonight is for a leisurely evening around the lounge at the Miami airport Marriott (flight gets in late evening, I’m not a beach guy, room rates were through the roof, early flight Monday so why not just stay there), I’ll have some time to do some mail.
Make ‘em good, please. No rants, nothing with “here’s my long-winded diatribe and what I think. Your thoughts?” and I’m not doing Bosh sign-and-trade stuff.
Want good news? Chicago didn’t win.
Didn’t play, but still …
Doug Smith has been a sportswriter for more than 30 years, a journey that's included seven Olympic Games, numerous and varied championships and more dreary regular season games than he'd care to remember. Here, he'll talk about them all, as well as current events and pop culture. (Just don’t ask him about music nowadays — it's not his cup of tea).