The start of the weekend mail
Well, you rescued the start of the weekend mailbags with a big finish to a short week so here you go.
But we’re really tiny for tomorrow and here’s one last chance; am planning perchance a deck/stool/me and my friend Stella afternoon so help a guy out, would you?
Q: Hello Doug! So, it's on. Lockout. Lockdown. Lockjaw. Gridlock. Take your pick. And you've still got this blog thing to do. Therefore, in the interest of providing you with something other than NBA questions (actually, I don't think I've really asked very many basketball-themed questions anyway...) here are a few queries I've got for you about stuff other than hoops.
First: What's your opinion on the issue of grunting at Wimbledon? Should there be a decibel restriction on sounds made by competitors? Or, should it be a case of 'love and let grunt'?
Second: What is the appropriate Blue Jay fan reaction to Doc's return? Cheer him all game? Or just until first pitch? (Booing in my opinion is out of the question and shouldn't happen anyway.)
Third: The 4th goal on Canada (at the FIBA Women's World Cup) by France? Bad form?
And Finally, Fourth: Tour de France - Any interest? Ever covered it? (The locations are usually lovely...there was that year in Grenoble...anyway, I digress...) Or have doping allegations stripped it of its former allure? Thanks!
Lorie P, London
A: Oh, you know I love the outside-basketball questions, no worry at all.
And I move this to the top of the list for the second, obviously, and the timeliness of it.
I have no problems with the grunting and cannot imagine someone trying to legislate athletic reaction out of a sport. I’m not a huge fan, to tell you the truth, but to think officials can stop an athlete from what they do in the heat of competition.
Now, if the people who aren’t in the park when Halladay walks out to the bullpen don’t stand and cheer the entire way and if the entire stadium isn’t on its feet when he’s introduced, those who aren’t should be ridiculed. Once the game starts, different story, but before? Before he should hear cheers like he heard his entire time here.
The fourth goal? Cheap. Bad form. Entirely un-sporting and something that kind of got lost in the wake of Canada’s demise. The sporting thing to do was to keep passing the ball around and eventually kick it into touch, I believe. But they didn’t.
The Tour? Never caught my interest, to tell you the truth. If they sent me, I’d go; it’s not a gig I would seek out on my own.
Q: Hi Doug. Can you suggest five "must read" basketball books?
John J, Victoria
A: We seem to do this a lot this time of year so I’ll give you five that’s a pretty good starting list, in no particular order, and maybe an Irregular or two can chime in with the ones that I forget; or ones that I had on previous lists but have somehow forgotten right now.
Get yourself a nice deck chair, maybe a glass of something cold, put some music on and go to it:
The Breaks of the Game
The incomparable David Halberstam follows the Portland Trailblazers through a tumultuous season.
Terry Pluto’s take on the ABA. Hilarious.
The Inside Game
Two of the best people I know – Wayne Embry and Mary Schmitt Boyer – combine on a must-read.
The Last Shot
New York City school basketball like you’ve never read it.
They Call Me Coach
A lot of homespun wisdom here but it’s John Wooden so you should read it.
Q: Hi Doug. Reports have come out recently that the Star's own Damien Cox has made Washington Capital's owner Ted Leonsis upset for some comments in his book about how he signed Ovechkin. My question is, have you ever held back a name or some tidbit because you did not want to step on the toes of some high level Executive? Have you ever had someone in the league get frustrated by comments that you have written about them to the point they comment back in the media? Or is all fair in love and writing? Also because we all love lists in Dougland, what would be the top five places in the world that would be on your bucket list to visit that you have never seen before? Thanks as always for an awesome read every morning.
Sean G, Regina
P.S. I had to google the Land Shark bit. They are sending the cheque in the mail I am told.
A: I truly cannot remember a time when I’ve held on to news so as not to step on toes and I hope I never do. Can’t imagine I would.
Now, that Top 5? That’s a good one.
I will admit to having seen a lot over the years, thanks mainly to work but if I had to come up with five places I hope they hold big events in, they’d be, no particular order:
Tel Aviv, or Israel
Not sure why but it’s always intrigued me a little bit and I kept hoping for a training camp or pre-season game there.
Maybe it was Roko telling me a hundred thousand times how nice it was but for some reason, it’s in my mind now.
Perk got the President’s Cup there, the blokes Kelly and Young got the World Cup, I got an idea I might like it.
Not sure why, I’m not so much into payoffs and oligarchs but what the heck, might be quite interesting.
Boss? You reading this?
Q: Hi Doug. The 'Euro Hate Fest' from some Raptors fans really has me perplexed. The quality of the teams in Spain, France, Italy, Greece et cetera are really strong. In fact many NBA teams have fallen to some of the giants of Euro basketball during exhibition season. It seems to me that playing Euro basketball is equally good preparation for playing in the NBA as the NCAA. What are your thoughts?
All the Best.
Andy F, Aberdeen
A: I agree wholeheartedly and, in some cases can make the point that European leagues, where you’re a pro, you have to fend for yourself, play against men and get more practice time, might even be better preparation for some players.
So it’s at least on par, in my opinion but, of course, there are teenaged Americans who would be deathly afraid of an overseas adventure where no one would hold their hand and I would suspect European teams would be loathe to sign kids who might not be able to handle the cultural change.
Q: Hey Doug. Who would you say was the most over-rated and biggest disappointment as an off-season free agent signing/trade in franchise history?
It's got to be Hakeem right? With J.O and Turk as close seconds? Lamond Murray possibly?
Kevin C, Toronto
A: I’m sure if you asked the majority of the people who’ve followed the team closely, Hakeem would be right near the top of the list. But please don’t forget the immortal Nate Huffman when you’re compiling that list, I certainly wouldn’t.
In fact, I might put him first.
Q: Hey Doug. I have an issue and it pertains to the future of your business.
I love the blog, read it every day and feel a slight obligation to put some money towards your salary (as I reap the rewards daily). Now, I started getting a weekend paper a while ago to help the cause but all it does is sit on my driveway before it gets recycled. Occasionally I'll sit down on the weekend with a paper but for the most part the information is outdated after I've read what interests me online.
So, I want to cancel the paper because it's really just a waste of paper and an annoyance. Of course, I'm then an official free loader. What should a guy do when he wants to pay for a service but has no avenue to do so?
Hopefully you have some insight. Tell the big heads upstairs to give me an option.
Dale S, Kleinburg
A: Man, I wish there were more of you.
I actually asked one of the Tallest Foreheads we have and she was very pleased that people like you exist and want you to know if you figure out a way to make that happen, you should call every newspaper in the world with your solution and then make plans to do whatever you want to do for the rest of your life because you will never have to work again.
Seriously, you are in a minority and if we could figure out how to actually tap that resource, we would. Trust me, we would.
For now, enjoy guilt-free; it’s on us to figure it out.
Q: Hey Doug, thanks for the level-headed thinking on the Jonas situation. Even though I joined in the collective groan of raptor fans when his name was called, I'm starting to warm to the pick.
My question is about his weight. Everyone seems so adamant that Jonas must put on 15-25 pounds to around 260 to compete as an NBA Center, even though centers like Tyson Chandler (235), Joakim Noah (232), and Andrew Bogut (245) have been highly successful around Jonas' current weight. In your opinion, is it really so important he gains that weight?
Kemp W, Blind River
A: I don’t think it’s important at all, but I do think it’s inevitable as he grows into his 19-year-old body. Weight’s one of the more interesting aspects of a young athlete: Do they lose mobility and quickness as they get bigger? Can or should trainers target specific areas of the body to develop? I think we should let nature take its course and see what, if anything, needs working on and, right now, a 19-year-old is very much a work in progress so I don’t know that he “has to” do anything.
Q: During an international tournament, especially in Europe, I always question whether or not the referee is able to communicate with all the players and/or coaches. Are there certain languages that a referee has to know before he/she can be assigned to a game?
If that is not the case then, how do players and/or coaches get their concerns across to the referees? Are their translators at each game?
S S, Newmarket
A: There are not any hard and fast rules for language, as I understand it, but usually between the officials, the “commissioner” who overseas the games and various FIBA translators at the table, communication often works. Not perfectly, but it does.
And there are also various hand signals that are supposed to universal and they should help.
But I’m sure if you talk to coaches and players, the ability to speak clearly with officials and be understood is an issue.
Q: Hi Doug. Just wondering why players like Jonas V. who know they will not be able to play in the NBA immediately because of contract situations bother to enter the draft. Why don't they just sit tight and jump in later when they will actually be able to play? Seems to make too much sense to me.
Is the Jonas V. situation with the Raptors identical to the situation involving Ricky Rubio and the T-Wolves?
Chris B, London
A: But doesn’t it make as much sense to jump in when you think you’re highest on the draft list to assure yourself a bigger payday and start the clock ticking towards a second contract, when the money is better? Or maybe you put your name in hoping there’s a buyout possibility early?
Not sure if it’s identical to Rubio since buyout totals are different, as is the time a player has to spend with his European team before he’s even able to leave but there are similarities.
Q: Hi Doug. Considering that you had reported before the draft that the Raptors had pretty much narrowed down their choices to Brandon Knight, Bismack Biyombo and Kawhi Leonard, what happened? Are your "sources" really giving Doug Smith the respect he deserves and giving him scoops? I don't buy that the Raptors didn't think he would be there because Brandon Knight was considered highly probable as the Jazz pick, yet we still heard a whole lot about him. Did you not fully decipher what your sources said? Do they speak in riddle? Or did they have ulterior motives? I remember the good old days when you did a great job on that 2009 draft where you were all over Demar Derozan, James Johnson and Jrue Holiday...
Evan G, Toronto
A: No, the simple fact is that none of the people I talked to had any inclination that Valanciunas would be there at No. 5 and had they known, I’m sure I would have heard about their interest in him. It was just like 2010 when I heard a whack of names from people – none that I remember right now – because no one had a clue Ed Davis would get down that far.
Some years, things work better than others.
But, trust me (or not, as many don’t) the people I talk to and who help me through things, respect me enough to not intentionally screw with me and my BS metre runs pretty well if they did.
Q: Hey Doug! Long time reader and fan of the blog and your articles! I had a question with regards to salary and injuries which require players to be out for a long period of time. If a player gets injured and cannot play for a certain period of time (see: Kleiza, Linas), is his salary still paid by the team or is there some sort of insurance that covers that? In the normal workplace, usually when someone is sick for a certain period of time, they go on short or long-term disability. Is it similar in the NBA?
Jignesh R, Toronto
A: There’s not disability insurance as us regular folks know it but each of the top-five earners on every team are insured through a league-wide policy. It’s mainly to protect the owners financially if something catastrophic happens to someone early in a huge contract. I’m not sure if the Raptors would have taken out their own coverage on Kleiza, I somehow doubt it and they’ll just take the hit until he’s ready to come back, which will be less than a calendar year from when he had surgery so, relatively, it’s not that big a deal.
Q: Doug. When does qualifying for 2012 Olympics begin, and do we know yet if any of the new Canadian NBAers (Tristan, Cory) or college players (Kybongo) will be part of the team?
Jeff M, Waterloo
A: We don’t know who’ll be available at the moment but there’s no real rush. The senior men won’t begin the first phase of their training until mid-July and the second stage until early August. The qualification tournament is Aug. 30-Sept. 12 in Argentina.