Some news and the end of the weekend mail
Excellent work again, kids.
Oh, and some news.
Remember I mentioned the Canadian junior women heading off to the world championships down in Chile the end of last week?
Well, they came through the first round unbeaten, having rolled past China, Egypt and Italy, the defending European champions.
Talked to someone who’s down there watching and the report is the Canadians might have the best halfcourt defence in the tournament and a quarter-final berth and a shot at a medal is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
We’ll have more on them in the morning because today’s an off day and they get Russia, Japan and the United States in the next round starting Monday.
Now, we return you to your regularly-scheduled mail:
Q: Hi Doug. One of the best comic bits ever...
Do you know where the world's largest living land lizard resides? Hint, it's an eastern archipelago.
Ask Wally Ballou. (Bob and Ray)
On a one to ten scale, how would you rank the current core strength of one Andrea Bargnani?
After McKechnie gets done with him?
Bob E, Kanata
A: No number lower than one, eh?
Okay, let’s go with one and if he gets him to five it’ll be a wonderful accomplishment.
Now, everyone go google Bob and Ray.
Q: My apologies if this has already been asked and answered: if there is no 2011-12 NBA season but the owners and the players reach an agreement in (say) February 2012, what happens to the 2012 draft?
Mike D, Wilds of 905
A: Oh, aren’t we cute?
(I keed, I keed)
Q: Hey Doug.
Has there ever been a bigger coup for Canadian Sports over our national American inferiority complex?
Rob N, London
A: None. Not sure there’d even be anything a close second.
We’re talking about the guy going to go No. 1 in the NFL draft and I remember it being late Saturday night when I got the call from an associate of Bruce McNall’s telling me it was done. I think the NFL draft might have been the next day and it was huge news.
Now, it might be biggest ever because it was a football “steal” and it’s not like that can even happen in any other sport.
But it was huge.
Q: Hey Doug. I would be curious to know if a player gets any sort of financial benefit from being in the NBA Hall of Fame. Direct or indirect such as increased exposure or name recognition = more marketing or 'brand' dollars?
I like the multimedia work. Very hip.
Cluck K, Mississauga
A: No directly as in any cash award for being elected but I’m sure some of them parlay induction into such things as personal appearances, autograph sessions and the odd endorsement. But I don’t imagine that’s terribly lucrative for the majority of them, who’d already have that kind of thing on the go.
Q: Hey Doug. Three part question about the behind the scenes elements of reporting.
With the UK phone hacking scandal going on, how true is the idea of the reporter's duty to 'get the story, no matter what?'
This year marks 10 years since 9/11. What were the challenges that you faced in covering basketball one day and a terrorist attack the next? How does a reporter change their mindset or focus?
What's the biggest sports/news story that you've ever covered or broken?
Thanks as always.
Mauro F, Hamilton
A: Fine trio of queries.
The idea of “get the story, no matter what” is, in my opinion, dead wrong. Yes, it’s nice to be first and all that but you need to operate within the bounds of laws, journalism ethics (be up front and honest) and common decency. Alas, that’s not always true.
Not sure the mindset changed at all in the wake of those terrorist attacks, or any for that matter. We realize that sports is more of an outlet – not without huge passion among the readers but an outlet from reality nonetheless – and perhaps that was hammered home a bit more after the towers fell, the Pentagon was attacked and the plane crashed in that Pennsylvania field. What it did for me, and I presume many others, was hammer home the dangers in the world that used to only be present in other countries and made some of us appreciate the dangers others live with every day.
Biggest story? Well, as many as have been broken have been broken on me but I will admit to being quite proud that our paper was the first to report the departure of Isiah Thomas and Vince’s desired to be traded.
But, honestly, it’s silly to keep score. A wise old boss once told me 90 per cent of stories are tied, you win five per cent and lose five per cent and you need to just toddle along every day doing the best you can.
Q: In light of Yao's retirement, can you give us a list of:
The best players you saw that won't make the Hall of Fall because of injury.
The most significant injuries or changes in fortune you have seen in the league. (I don't think that these are the same question)
One other comment. You enjoy reporting on other sports in the off season, but have you had the chance to do some writing on Rugby, especially since it now going to be an Olympic sport in 2016. It's really a great game, that I'm only becoming more acquainted with.
Stephen T, St. Catharines
A: To the first one, I’m not sure how long the list is but I’d put Bernard King at the very top of it. And who knows how a guy like maybe Penny Hardaway, Danny Manning or even Antonio McDyess would have had their careers play out had they not sufferer near catastrophic injuries early. But that’s all speculation, of course.
To the second one, man, that’s a hard one.
Trying to wrack my brain to back more than a few years and nothing really comes immediately to mind, although I’m sure there are lots.
Two I can think of off the top of my head:
I really would have liked to have seen the current version of the Portland Trail Blazers with a fully healthy Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, just as I would have liked to have seen the Portland Trail Blazers back in the day had Bill Walton not ruined his foot.
As, as my man Sam Mitchell often reminds me, the one time the Minnesota Timberwolves made it to the conference finals, they were too banged up to be really competitive.
Others? I’ve got one that might take some research by a few out there. Maurice Stokes, an old teammate of the great Wayne Embry, seemed destined for a brilliant career when he suffered a debilitating head injury that robbed the game of his talents.
Rugby? Did one Canada game up at Fletcher’s Field, I think it is, in a driving rainstorm and it was fun. And I would imagine I’ll do some more in the future.
Q; Hello. I can't think of a professional sport that has smaller rosters than basketball. With this being said do you think that the level of talent dramatically drops off the fastest in basketball than any other sport? In the NBA there are only about 450 roster spots (15 players per team). On a team you can make a case that only 6-8 players can play at an elite level. The others can play, but don't hold a candle to the elite players.
In baseball and pucks there is always talent to be found/developed from a vast pool of minor leaguers, whereas in basketball I can't think of a d leaguer or another player that honed his skills internationally that made a huge impact for a team later in his career. This makes me think that there is a huge leap from being a good pro, to being an elite one whereas in other sports the "leap" happens more often. Thoughts?
Craig W, Deseronto
A: I agree entirely.
On a basketball team, there are 12 players, maybe nine who play, maybe five who play a lot and maybe three who are standouts and there is no other sport like it, for sure. And some of it has to do with the fact other sports – the pucks and baseball primarily – have much longer gestation periods for some of the best players so they are afforded more time to hone their skills. Basketball? You know pretty quickly who’s going to be good and who’s going to be average.
Q: Hi Doug! Yeah, the tools of all our trades have sure changed over the last few decades. And those Olivetti's must have been a brute to lug around from assignment to assignment for you beat reporters. Seriously though, getting the story in to the office must have presented a few challenges back then. Can you give us an example or two of times when you had to think and work creatively to file your story from a remote location. (Ever have to scream into a payphone: "Stop the presses?" and proceed to dictate your story. You still use presses?) Thanks!
Lorie P, London
A: Way back in the day, before any kind of wireless issues, we used to have to find phones with jacks to plug our wires into and that was no easy task. Airports were particularly bad, so were some antiquated arenas and stadiums and I can remember more than one occasion where I had to write on the screen and then dictate to the office because I couldn’t find the right kind of phone.
Or a phone line that was strong enough to handle data calls.
I can also remember more than a few times getting calls when I was out and having to write stuff out long hand and then call it in.
Thankfully, now you can find a Starbucks or a local with wireless capabilities quite easily and it’s no big deal.
Q: Hi Doug. I have a two part question for you.
First, are GM's allowed to discuss players and possible trades during the lockout so they can have things 'arranged' for when it’s over?
Second, is the possible hiring of a GM type exec for the front office a condition that was set by ownership when BC' renewed his contract? I realize the role for such a hire is not established yet but with BC's skills in transactions I would be reluctant (and surprised) as a fan to see him give that up.
Trevor B, Saskatoon
A: Oh, no, there’s nothing to preclude GMs from talking to each other during the lockout on such things as parameters of trades but keep in mind that no one knows what the economic situation will look like so it’s impossible to finalize anything. But as general discussion, anything’s okay; it just can’t involve talking to players.
I’ve not heard, even privately and I’ve asked, that a restructured front office was any kind of “condition” of new contract for Bryan but I imagine the topic came up in a performance review.
And I don’t imagine Bryan is going to cede any kind of decision-making role, he just wants more people involved in the process.
Q: Hi Doug. Each summer I always wonder how you keep your blog alive and I think you really into keeping in touch with your reader and please keep up the good job! Is really amazing to see that you can keep this up in a lock out season!
First, the people who said Yao should not be in the HOF really don't know what they are talking about. We are talking about basketball hall of fame, not NBA hall of fame. They should know that the number one selling jersey in China is Kobe not Yao. I am not saying that Kobe is more important then Yao in the heart of the Chinese people, But a lot of the kids embrace and know those NBA star is only because of Yao who bring the culture of basketball to China.
Which brings me to the following question. Do you foresee a day that the NBA champion can be the real world champion? An inter -league champion between the winner of the Chinese and the Europe League VS the NBA Final's winner.
In say about 10 years from now?
A W, Richmond Hill
A: No, I don’t see the kind of global club championship you’re talking about ever taking place, actually. The different schedules around the world, the importance all teams put on their domestic championships (NBA, EuroLeague, etc) and the physical toll of a long year everywhere would make it impossible to schedule.