A sad day and some favourite things
Very, very slow day in Raptors land – and we can use a couple of those very now and then – but still all kinds of stuff out there.
The NBA is a worse place today.
I don’t know the inner workings of the Utah Jazz and what Deron Williams or any player did or didn’t do that led Jerry Sloan to walk away from his job yesterday but whatever happened left a diminished league in its wake.
Yes, that the NBA is a “players league” is hardly a big secret and you know that I think coaches generally get too much credit and too much blame but, still, a rock like Sloan should never be forced out by any player group of players.
But from what little I knew of Sloan – and it wasn’t much except a couple of conversations a year and Sloan stories shared with mutual friends – I’m not at all surprised he just said “screw it, I’m leaving.”
If there was one thing about him that shone through over all these years, it was that he was his own man and did what he wanted.
Maybe leaving your job on your terms is a good thing, you don’t get fired, you get to pick the time, and you get to go on your terms.
Maybe the winner in all of this is Sloan. He did what he wanted when he wanted.
I do think all NBA coaches should wear John Deere hats some night as a tribute because just about every time I saw Jerry leaving an arena after a shootaround, that’s what he had on his head.
He is a decent, good man. I’d see him twice a year, at most, and he’d always stop to talk and say hello and just shoot the breeze. The guy sat in the media room with us shmoes every game and had dinner next to Phil Johnson and I can honestly say I’ve never, ever seen another NBA head coach do that.
The league’s a lesser place today because he’s not in it.
So, wonder how Amir will hurt himself tonight?
Will his back lock up? Roll an ankle. Tweak a knee?
You know something’s likely to happen, it seems to quite often, but you also know one other thing:
The kid is going to keep playing.
There is no doubt that this has been a terrible season for the HOTH (Heroes Of The Hardcourt for those just joining) but maybe the best and most surprising thing has been Johnson’s effort and I think my admiration for him gets greater every day.
This kid just plays hard, all the time, and he plays hurt and seems like a very good teammate. Doesn’t demand the ball or shots and goes out and does his level best every night.
Now, he’s not perfect and there’s still lots more that he can do but for those of you looking for some positive signs, watch him.
An old Jerry Sloan story many of you have read or heard but this is for those who haven’t.
We’re in Salt Lake City in Haffa’s rookie year and Araujo’s a bit of story out there, having gone to BYU and the late Larry Miller had once said the Jazz would have taken him if the Raptors hadn’t.
TV woman: Coach, it’ll be nice to see Araujo tonight, won’t it?
Me: Hahahahahahaha. (Not really but it was hard to suppress the giggles).
Got to thinking the other day (idle time’s a dangerous thing and I’ve had some this week) after suggesting that Ray Allen shooting a three is the prettiest thing in basketball about what else is best in other sports and games and this is what I came up with.
A triple to right.
Especially a triple where the guy just barely beats the throw at third. There’s something about seeing the ball on a rope on the relay chasing the hitter to third. I can watch triples all day.
A perfect 7-iron to inches.
Not one that lands 30 feet behind the pin and backs up but a nice, soft, fading 7-iron that hits, maybe bounces once and rolls up to be a tap-in. Jarring it’s a fluke, and fun to see, but watching the ball in flight is something nice. Not that I’ve ever done it, of course.
A perfect out pattern.
You know the one, about 20 yards, ball thrown on a line before the receiver makes his cut, thrown to the outside so no one can possibly get it except the guy it’s intended for.
A breakout pass.
Goal line to red line, tape to tape to a guy skating on an angle for a breakaway.
And, to me, the best thing you can see:
A backdoor slider.
The perfect pitch, freezes a hitter, starts outside, catches the black and all you can do is shake your head and tip your cap. Beautiful.
Pardon the digression.
Another giant weighs in.
Read this by Jack on Jerry, please.
With the deadline fast approaching, let’s get this one out of the mail:
Q: When looking at trading a player, do GM's ever consider the popularity of the player with fans? Am thinking about the Reggie trade speculation. Your story this week just made me love him even more.
K J, Toronto
A: No, GMs know that they have to sometimes make hard decisions on popular players – either by trading them or letting them leave as free agents – but they take a calm, measured approach to it and can’t take in the feelings of the fans.
The GM will know he’s going to be criticized and that some fans will be hurt but if there’s a deal to be made he thinks will improve his team, he’s going to make it, regardless of a player’s popularity.
Hey, Portland’s here and Marcus isn’t going to play and that’s not unusual because it seems that no matter what team he plays for, when they get here, he misses the game.
It’s the story of the day in our regular check with what’s up with the other team as you can see right here.
Speaking of mail, there’s not a lot over there and I think you should send me some notes, thank you very much.
Okay, we’re here tonight for the IGBT, right? See you then.