All kinds of basketball stuff in here today
We’re almost all basketball today.
Don’t worry, it’ll get slow again for a few days so we can get to some of the usual off-the-wall stuff.
Big basketball goings on in China.
No, not brawls.
The men’s FISU Games team plays Serbia for the gold medal this morning our time and it speaks to the depth of talent across all levels.
This is a group of CIS kids – Kevin Hanson’s the coach – and they’ve gone 5-1 after other university-age players to reach the final.
They beat Lithuania in the semis, after Lithuania had upset the United States in the quarters, which is a significant win in itself.
Now, World University Games (as they used to be known) and success for Canadian men really shouldn’t come as that big as a surprise.
A whole bunch of you most likely remember the “Miracle On Wood” out in Edmonton way back in ’83 when Canada won the gold medal in a tournament that included a stirring win over an American team with a couple of kids named Malone and Barkley on it.
I wasn’t at that one but I was in Buffalo in ’93 and that was almost as dramatic.
The Americans had a pretty good team – I seem to recall Damon Stoudamire on it, and Carlos Rogers, too – and the Canadians were supposed to be fodder for them in the gold medal.
Again, if my fading memory is right, I remember Canada taking almost a 20-point lead as the crowd looked on in stunned disbelief before the Americans rallied to win.
I emphatically recall one of Canada’s best – and youngest – players taking the loss particularly hard because he’d been on a college team that had pulled off a significant upset over a Stoudamire-led team earlier in his career.
I also remember thinking that the kid was going to be pretty good, an opinion held by Canada Basketball officials, who took him from Buffalo to the qualification tournament for the world championships to help get his feet wet at the highest international level.
The kid’s name?
Wonder whatever happened to him?
So, the NBL Canada draft?
Good show, they tried their best to make it as professional and first-class they could and pulled it off.
Right down to comely lasses walking the draft picks up to meet the CEO, hats for them to put on (league caps in some cases since some teams don’t have names) and a packed room, they did pull it off quite well.
It was a big first weekend for the league and now they have to find some way to capitalize on the energy to sell some tickets and keep going in each of the league cities.
Best of luck.
Here’s the thing about the draft, though.
Think it might be better not to get picked? I know the league wanted a show – and put on a very good one – but if you’re a player, isn’t it now better to have seven teams to try to cadge a camp invite to rather than just one.
Unlike, say, the NBA, there are no guaranteed contracts for any of the draft picks and now they have to make sure they make the teams when camps open in October.
I’d almost like to not get drafted and have my agent try to see my services to all the teams rather than have one just control me.
And the other thing that struck me?
How happy a lot of these kids were to have a chance to play in North America.
Listening to them rattle off the countries where they’ve played – and I heard Saudi Arabia, Germany, China, Japan, Argentina, Sweden, Iceland and France from the handful of players I talked to – just hammered home the fact a league in North America that seems legit and could do good things was the most important part of the night.
Okay, this is from the Department Of Totally Logical.
How in the world there are people who think the marriage of a woman who, to the best of my knowledge, is famous for a sex tape and little else, and NBA journeyman can be remotely considered “news.”
That said, I wish Kim and Hump all the best.
One last NBL thing.
It’s amazing who you’ll see at a tryout camp for a new Canadian basketball league.
The First Lady Of The Beat (reprising the role she played when, you know, she was on the beat) and I were standing around Seneca College at the NBL combine thingy on Saturday and there’s this bearded guy standing a few metres away.
He looks so familiar it’s killing us and finally we ask someone who it is.
The beard threw us off.
Yes, the combine did include a former NBA dunk champion, if only as a spectator, as the ex-Raptor was back at around his old stomping grounds making sure a cousin of his – Joshua Porter -- handled himself well at the tryout.
You remember Fred, right?
A rather inglorious half a season in Toronto where he seemed to shoot more three-pointers than manage to get to the rim but a good guy and it was good to see him.
He’s been in Italy and China the last two seasons and isn’t sure where he’ll be playing this fall.
And there you go, one of our infrequent stops on the Where Are They Now Tour.
Oh, and Joshua?
Didn’t get drafted.
Hey, guess who’s Mr. Baseball this week?
Tuesday night as a one-off fill in during the Royals series and then the Rays are all mine on the weekend for four games.
Figure we need to bring back IGBT?