I love this time of year and not just because there’s fall baseball to watch, pennant races to follow and the last couple of weeks to enjoy before the carnage of the season begins.
No, I love this time of year because there’s an air of desperation in the air around the NBA and I get quite the chuckle out of it.
Antoine Walker is working out with the Charlotte Bobcats.
And Allen Iverson’s business manager says his client may go to play in China this coming season.
Classic end-of-summer, no-contract, I’ve-got-to-get-a-job gambits by veterans who don’t want to give up the life.
I cannot imagine in a hundred years the scenario by which Antoine Walker, who is 34 and hasn’t been in an NBA game since 2008, makes any team this year and it’s rather comical to me that he’s trying. It smacks entirely of desperation for a guy who can’t – won’t – get on with his life.
The Iverson thing is pretty cool, too. Seems to me, it’s the business guy is like the kid who keeps uttering threats hoping against hope that they aren’t taken seriously. I guess Iverson, if he was willing to run entirely against everything he’s ever said would be comfortable in some secondary role with a team, would have some value as an NBA player but to throw out the prospect of leaving for China may not be the wisest of decisions. I’d think there’d be more than a few GMs who think, ‘well, see ya’ and the move might be counter-productive.
Anyway, it is a fun time of the year.
I’m not sure how many of you saw this, it was kind of tucked away in the news section of Saturday’s hard copy of the paper, but it kind of gets me to one of the many digressions we’ll have over the next little while.
What’s the perfect sports bar?
So, how about a list?
Five Things My Bar Must Have
(And this excludes the obvious like relatively cheap beer and good food)
Padding, a back for support and a bar across the legs at the bottom to rest your feet on. There is nothing worse than an uncomfortable stool where your feet dangle. Really.
No, they don’t have to be able to land SkyLab or anything like that (esoteric long-ago space mission reference) but they need to be good. With all the various “packages” available to the regular consumer, I want to be able to go to my local and get something I can’t from my couch. Like live coverage of the world basketball semifinals and finals. Grr.
The last thing I want to do is sidle up to the bar, ask The Friendly Bartender to switch the TV to some specific event and be asked, ‘what channel is it on?’ At my place, everyone’s shift starts half an hour before they have to hit the floor so they can study the games on that day or night.
This is entirely personal but because I’ve been known to spend a quiet couple afternoon hours sitting on a (hopefully comfortable) stool puttering around on some work, I’d rather not pester the staff (hello, BP Square 1) to plug my machine in behind some bar. The availability of wireless internet goes without saying, right.
I’m not entirely picky about the kind of beverage I like but having a list of possibilities is always good because the mood always changes. And I’d like them to be written down somewhere so I don’t need to ask a server to rattle of them off. Oh, and that list has to be accurate. I don’t want to see something, ask for it, and be told ‘oh, we haven’t had that in months.’
I’m trying to figure out whether it’s Kyle Drabek or Walter Johnson pitching for the Jays tomorrow.
Guess they have to hope it’s not David Clyde.
Here’s a leftover from the mail:
Q: Doug, with your recent trip to Turkey, coupled with the ongoing moans NBA players poke at having to play in Toronto, how would you rate the various cities around the league in terms of appeal (not basketball venues, but more in terms of architecture, culture, entertainment, dining, etc. Having been around the block some, I feel Toronto stands up quite nicely against the more desired locales and outright divine when compared to others.
Walter S, Toronto
A: Well, you’re absolutely right, it’s not No. 1 but it’s not No. 30 and I’d suggest it’d be in the top two-thirds for sure.
From what I’ve known of players, here’s what they like in a city: If you’re a visitor on a road trip you want your hotel to be in close proximity to good restaurants and shopping and, for the young ones, perhaps a club for the night before the game. A club, mind you, that will afford you some privacy and good company.
If you’re going to spend a season in a city – and scant few players anywhere in the league live year-round where they play – the things they look most for a vibrant social scene, luxury condos or apartments close to the arena and easy drive to the airports.
And since I’ve been lucky enough to have spent a considerable amount of time in just about every city in the league over the years, I’d say Toronto is for sure in the upper half of the pack.
Now, I’m not entirely into cost of living, ease of getting away quickly, convenient travel possibilities but those are the main factors.
Speaking of mail, why not start.
Oh. From the bottom of my heart, I need to offer thanks to all of you.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu is a free agent, released by his club in Spain and not once – NOT ONCE – did someone suggest yesterday that he should come back to Toronto.
It made my day.