A global star may emerge; and Masai gets his shot at a new gig
So the Americans only beat France by 31 on Sunday afternoon and the word I got from a guy who was at the game and watching closely when I asked him about the French was “they played okay.”
Hmm. Kind of a reversal of form from Thursday and Friday here.
Anyway, another friend had asked me Sunday morning what I thought about Kevin Durant and where he’d emerge as a true star this summer and it had to be answered with a resounding yes.
Looking down that American roster, I really don’t see anyone who’s going to capture the imagination of even diehard fans because it really is a group of relative role players in comparison to the team that won the gold medal in Beijing.
Durant, in my opinion, is the biggest “name” on the team and, as such, I’m sure he’ll become the go-to scorer, the guy everyone’s paying attention to and I have no doubt that he’ll be the American player best remembered when the worlds are all said and done.
I’m still trying to figure out just how well the U.S. might do – with the roster they have and the schedule they face, I suspect I won’t be picking them to win the gold medal when I get around to it next week – but in this star-driven world in which we live, I think Durant’s going to be the story.
And well he should be. The way he’s handled himself since coming into the league, under-stated, successful enough on the court, humble and not really interested in seeking a lot of attention, makes him something of a personal favourite.
This pass as Raptors news? I hear assistant GM Masai Ujuri had an interview on Friday for the vacant Denver general manager job and it went pretty well, from reports I’m getting from here and there.
Talk is that it’s probably down to former Phoenix assistant David Griffin and Masai for the gig and there might be some resolution this week.
Now, my memory isn’t quite as sharp as it used to be (oh, the ravages of age!) but if Masai gets the gig, I think he’ll be the first Raptors front office guy to go directly from the employ of Toronto to a promotion with the other team.
Any others – Glen Grunwald and Rob Babcock come quickly to mind – had at least a little bit of idle time before catching on somewhere else.
People ask me often what it is that guys like Masai, and Marc Eversely and Maurizio do in their jobs with the Raptors and I think the best answer I can generally come up with is: Whatever’s needed.
They offer advice to Bryan and do some scouting, they work their various sources to mine nuggets of information, they can be conduits between agents, front office guys from other teams and contacts they’ve made over the years in various aspects of the game.
I don’t think there’s any real delineation of responsibility except to say they are part of a cabal of advisors who are consulted on all facets of the operation.
How about that dude in the golf who grounded his club in what was allegedly a bunker and lost a shot at winning the PGA?
I know golf’s all about honour and somewhat obscure rules and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah but, really, that “is it a bunker, is it not a bunker, did he ground is club?” thing with Johnson was kind of tough to watch.
It is, of course, unique to golf (you don’t get retroactive out of bounds calls in basketball, you don’t have long-after-the-fact reversal of call in any other sport) and I guess it’s part of golf’s charms.
And makes for a heckuva story when it happens every 40 years or so.
Now, I vaguely remember Roberto Di Vincenzo at the ’68 Masters signing an incorrect scorecard and losing tournament but one thing Di Vincenzo gave us that Johnson didn’t was a quote for the ages:
“What a stupid I am.”
Seems the inquisitive nature you display doesn’t take a break in the dull days of summer, for which I’m glad.
I’ll try to get one or two in a day just to (a) fill out this space to something approaching the usual length given the slowness of the news and (b) cut down the monstrous weekend mail.
Here’s one from a familiar name:
Q: Hi Doug.
Was just reading your mailbag and the question from Lorie (as well as the mention of a journalist from Le Monde in another of your blog entries) got me thinking (seriously....): do you have many contacts with foreign (that is, non NBA-related) beat grunts? If yes, what kind of info are you exchanging?
A: I don’t have an awful lot of contacts that I speak with on a regular basis but, over the years of covering such things as world championships and Olympics, you do get to see a lot of familiar faces and know people and if you need something, you know where to call.
Just last week, for instance, a friend of a friend called from Israel to pick my brain about Will Solomon, who has signed to play over there.
Guys like Arnaud from Le Monde are people I see every two or four years at worlds or Olympics and it’s always nice to reconnect and know if something were to break in France that’s Raptors-related, there’s a guy I could call.
Same thing with a couple of Italian writers and a few folks from Spain, I’ll see them, we’ll chat about this and that and if there’s a need for information, there’s kind of a network already in place.
One last digression then I’m off to be Argo Boy for a day (I finally get to cover a winner, if only as a one-off fill-in).
Of the sports I don’t do, haven’t done, never will do, I’d say Dragon Boat racing would be chief among them so when Super Wife said her crew – the Mighty Catch 22s – finished second in their division at a regatta here on the weekend and won the very first Dragon Boat Tie-breaking Tug-of-War, I was mightily impressed.
A bit confused about what a tug-of-war between two 22-person boats would be but mightily impressed nonetheless.