Slow day, folks.
This is about all I could come up with.
It’ll get better soon.
I think most of you know that I’m a pretty big fan of Yao Ming. I’d like him to have a long and solid career because he seems to be a very good man at heart and his place among Chinese athletes is so significant.
There are few athletes anywhere in the world who have to do what Yao does for his country, his is their beacon and one of the true giants (literally and figuratively) in that culture.
Watching him at the Beijing Games, where he became arguably the most recognizable figure for the host country, was amazing.
He was scrutinized every day by masses of media and it had to be tiring and taxing yet I don’t remember him once looking at all tired of the attention or responsibility.
It was with much happiness, then, that I read Jonathan Feigan’s piece here that said Yao’s back on the court and playing with no restrictions.
Part of me reads that with a measure of trepidation because one workout in August does not mean anything in the grand scheme of things but it’s at least better than the last time we’d heard about Yao, when he said he might have to retire.
Not sure if you saw this report but it sure looks like Masai Ujiri’s got a better-than-good shot at the Denver GM gig.
Not entirely sure it’s the best job in the world, given the uncertainty of the Carmelo Anthony situation and what seems like a rather, um, involved ownership group.
Still, it’s a big promotion, it would get him in pretty select company and there’s nothing like first-hand experience to help build a resume.
What would happen here if he goes is tough to say, though.
I know Bryan likes to have a group of advisers around to talk over different scenarios and Masai was a trusted part of that group.
I’d expect there’d be someone in here to fill that role rather quickly.
Here’s one from a mailbag that’s getting quite full, it seems:
Q: Hello Sir and safe travels to you. I just read that Rondo had 'withdrawn' from the worlds. Following your comments (Tuesday) morning about him appearing to be the odd man out, was this his way of avoiding being 'cut' or is there something else going on? I am one that has been slow to get on the Rondo bandwagon. Before last year there were serious issues in Boston about his maturity and team dedication if I remember correctly. Management was not 'sold' on him. I saw last year’s performance as similar to a player in a contract year trying to impress, then when the ink is dry, they revert back to the norm. From what you are able to gather info wise, was the Rondo we saw in the playoffs the 'real deal' or does he still need a few years of high level and continually increasing performance to be considered a premier point guard in the league? Thanks as always.
Randy M, Crystal Beach
A: Oh, I’m pretty sure “withdrawing” from the worlds was pretty much a face-saving description because reading Chris Sheridan’s piece (which you can read right here), it was obvious Rondo knew what was coming.
I’m not a huge fan at all of a point guard who is a terrible free-throw shooter and whose jump shot is so suspect most teams don’t guard him more than 18 feet from the basket. There’s no question Rondo has skills but I think he’s benefited tremendously from the presence of three strong-willed teammates who get all the attention, shots and responsibility.
Apparently it’s about 95 F in Izmir, Turkey today. Here’s hoping all the air conditioning units are up to snuff because – and this may shock you – I’m not particularly built for, or a fan of, the heat.
Speaking of mail.
And speaking of Izmir, if anyone out there has ever been there, any suggestions more than welcome.
I know this generally works because I remember in ’07 that M. Grange ™ and I both got a restaurant recommendation from Rome that turned into one of the top five meals on the road ever.
The Raptors? Well, outside of Masai, nothing. Sorry.
The word floating around yesterday from some folks I talked to is that FIBA may do the right thing in the wake of that Greece-Serbia brawl last week and hand down some suspensions that will kick in at the start of the world championships.
It won’t mean anything, really, for Canada because they aren’t drawn with either of the countries but with Greece being in the same group as Turkey, it could be huge for them.
Winning that group allows a team to – probably – avoid the United States in the playoff-round draw and that’s huge.
I’ll be quite interested to see what the world body does, I’d imagine there’d have to be at least a couple of games suspension for five or six players.
Oh, and for those who know a local with ESPN, the USA-Greece game is at noon Eastern time. Might be a good one.