And the end of the weekend mail
A big long mailbag here, folks, to get you through a Sunday. Have fun while I’m at the ballyard chronicling the late-season demise of TOD.
See you back here in the morning as we get set for a big week that includes – get this! – basketball in Lithuania and Argentina.
Q: Hi Doug... Did your dad ever see Evil Kanevil's goal against the Toronto Toros? Did this really happen?
Why do the High Schools not use FIBA rules? Is it the cost of the 30 second clock?
Goodnight Irene by the Weavers or Telstar by The Hurricanes?
Bob E, Kanata
A: If it happened, I’ll have to ask if he was there, it’s not something he’d volunteer, as it turns out. I know he was at the Mud Bowl Grey Cup, too. Found that out about 35 years after the fact as well.
Anyway, since the entire world uses FIBA rules except that country to the south of us, probably makes sense that our high schoolers do. (I'm told Ontario doesn't; it should)
Oh, and Goodnight Irene by anyone, thank you very much.
Q: I don't believe you have been asked this before. What 5 players would you choose as your fav team players of all time. Not all time best team but 5 players you enjoyed watching the most.
And you had to watch and remember clearly at least 5 years of their career, that's why Chamberlain isn't my centre.
Mine would be Dr. J, Kareem, Rodman, Jordan and Nash as I thoroughly enjoyed watching all 5.
Doug B, Toronto
A: Now, do these have to be by position? I hope not because I might have a couple duplicates in here. And this five-year rule’s tough (I keed, I keed).
I’m going with:
The gold standard for fun in his era.
From my olden days with the Braves, not sure it was five years but it felt like it; the dude had fun, or so it seemed.
Think anyone got more out of less? I mean for his size, he was astonishing.
Of course. Forget the passport, who doesn’t love to see him play?
No one – no one – brought it every night like he did.
I’m giving honourable mentions to Larry Bird, Isiah Thomas, Karl Malone and Kareem.
Q: Hey Doug. It's your self appointed music critic and not the Raptors trainer back with another comment/question.
Really liked your Teenage Head/Hamilton reference the other day. I must have seen them (back in the day) at least 40 times and no other Canadian band had a more entertaining live show than those lads.(R.I.P. Frank Kerr)
I got into NBA ball and the Raps back during the 1'st lockout in "99 and having just moved back to the big city and looking forward to live basketball again, what's your best guess as to when we actually we see this thing start up again? You may have already answered this in on way or another already...but I just read Tristan Thompson speculate January.
Scott M, Toronto
A: As I hope you understand, this is a total guess because even the people I trust best around the league don’t know or won’t say for certain what they’re hearing. I’m going on second- or third- or even fourth-hand information here.
But my best guess is that we will see NBA basketball at the start of November. We may not see a lengthy training camp (yay!) or we may not see a pre-season (double yay!) but my best guess is we won’t miss too many, if any, regular season games.
Q: Doug. Right. I'm fully tapped out of basketball questions. No news for over a month will do that to a guy. Sooooo... In honour of Johnny Mac, who're the most random fan favourites we've had in Toronto sports history - players who on any other team would likely just be an end-of-the-bench name? Players like JYD and The Red Rocket come to mind for the Dudes of Dino, but what else is out there?
Christopher R, Vancouver
A: I think you might be diminishing the talents of Jerome and Bonner, who were more than end-of-the-bench guys on other teams, I’m sure Matt’s championship ring might be speak to that.
But, yes, their skills might not be commensurate to their talents, especially when they were in Toronto.
Trouble is, I don’t know enough about the pucks, or the football, to find examples there, although I’m sure there are. It seems to me that in the hockey in particular, they tend to rip guys who aren’t bad at all and that defenceman Murphy comes quickly to mind. Seems he did okay in Detroit, didn’t he?
So other than the three you mentioned, I’m not sure I can add to the list.
Q: Hello Doug! Maybe it's just a case of the West Coast being envious of the East Coast hogging the headlines lately. How else do you explain the head-scratching actions of the McCourt-Run-Dodgers-Organization who sent season ticket holder a survey, part of which was to evaluate the performance of one Vin Scully! Perhaps you've heard of him? Does a wee bit of broadcasting? Seriously! Subscribers were asked to rate Scully on (among other things): knowledge of baseball, knowledge of Dodgers' organization, focus on the game, storytelling abilities, style, overall performance. Good Grief! I can see asking them to rate the Gordon Biersh Garlic Fries, Carnation Malts or the legendary Dodger Dogs. But as one of the Dodger season ticket holders himself said, "This is like polling Catholics about Mother Teresa's work." So, Doug, my question - and I do have one - What on earth do you think the motivation could be in asking average Dodger Ticket Holder to rate Vin Scully's performance? And if you can!_ 't figure it out either, please vent your outrage! I'm sure you'll do it more eloquently than I did. Thanks!
Lorie P, London
A: I think this is clearly a case of some marketing company having absolutely no clue about the clientele it was surveying and no one connected with the Dodgers feeling the need to vet whatever went out under their name. That’s all I can think of because if, in fact, someone in the Dodger organization approved that question in that survey, he or she needs to be replaced. And fast.
As an aside, I did hear late Friday night that Scully said he’d be back next season for his 63rd year behind the microphone and he remains the gold standard for broadcasters.
Q: Greetings, just read the reason for Mike Flanagan's demise. Holy crap. To someone who has never been driven to the mind space that sets the stage for something like that, there is absolutely no understanding as to why someone might take their own life. The journey of life is indeed an odd and varying adventure. For those that can find solace and meaning in their everyday existence, be thankful for that. To make someone a hero, or a star, as our society is prone to do may well be the worst thing, from a humanity perspective, that we could do. Perhaps at the end of the day we all should just be able to be satisfied that we are someone's Super Dad, Super Son or simply able to show kindness and consideration for our fellow humans. And that our inner selves are able to find the strength and satisfaction from that to allow us to greet the next day with a smile on our faces.
As always, thanks for HOW you do what you do.
Doug T, Brantford
A: I know there’s no question here but it was so well put I figured the Irregulars would benefit from it.
I’ve now known – and in the case of Flanagan, it certainly wasn’t a close relationship at all – two men who’ve taken their own lives after my good friend Matt Dobek of the Pistons did a year or so ago. I cannot fathom what drives people to that decision, I hope I never get close to finding out but if we all took some time every day to make sure those in our circle of family and friends is okay – especially our teens -- I think we might find ourselves in a better place as a society.
Q: Hey Doug. You recently let it slip that you player (sat on the bench) for a pretty high level ball club back in the day.
To flush out the weekend mail bags, how about you fill us in on your fielding position, place in the order and why don't we say... the top three fielding positions you'd be most inclined to play?
A guy like you, I'm guessing 3B, middle of the order type. Not a lot of pop in the bat, but some decent contact hitting, coming up in the clutch.
Andrew P, Toronto
A: I think I might have already done this before but I had the good fortune to be born left-handed so my positions were pretty limited since I couldn’t throw a curveball to save my soul. I’d play the odd game in centre, maybe a bit of right and if we got really desperate, I’d get an outing at first base.
And I don’t remember hitting any higher than seventh most of the time, although the odd game in the two hole would pop up.
I was, as I’ve said, the prototypical good-field, no-hit kid.
Q: Hi Doug, can you help me understand how basketball works over in Europe? There seems to be country specific leagues and a Euroleague. Does it work like the Champions League in football? Are the teams that Sonny and Jonas will be playing for next season considered elite teams?
Normiyuki H, Toronto
A: That’s pretty much exactly what it is like. The top teams in the top leagues qualify and play a round-robin with the winners of each “group” advancing to the playoffs stage where, I believe, best-of-three series eventually determine the EuroLeague Final Four contestants. And, yes, Sonny and Jonas will have a chance to play in the EuroLeague.
(A correction: They "have a chance" is all it is right now as Jonas's team has yet to qualify. Sonny's team has.)
Q: I thought about this as a result of the Blue Jays' trade for Johnston and the fact that he had to go home to get his passport before reporting to Toronto. How come newly obtained players who are not Canadian can start playing right away? Do they not have to obtain work visas to play in Canada?
Jamie V, Toronto
A: No, the visa issue is not anything anyone worries about. The Latin players already have them and the Americans don’t need them to play for a team in an American-based league.
Now, passports and whatever visas are demanded by a players country of birth (and that’s more an issue for non-North American basketball players) are things they have to deal with.
Q: Hi Doug. Just wondering. Should the NBA lockout continue for a long time and the season is cancelled, would any NBA player consider playing in the newly formed National Basketball League of Canada? Money wouldn't be great but with the Canadian dollar doing so well against the U.S., it might make it more appealing. It's also close to home for many of them too.
Joe D, Mississauga
A: No, I can’t imagine for a second you’ll see an NBA player in the NBL and nor should you. First off, it’s a brand new league that needs to start slowly and that’s not by over-paying some small-name NBAer who will bolt the first chance he gets. Besides, no one’s going to cancel any season before the turn of the calendar at the very earliest and by then the new league will be about halfway through its season.
Q: Where do these kids get the money to do the things they're doing? Thompson back to school-- Jospeh playing with the Olympic team. Way back in the day when I went to college, almost every day I wasn't studying I needed to work to pay the bills. Read about Kyrie Irving and the rest. All training and having a great time. Where do they get the bucks? Do you suspect an under the table deal with agents?
Thomas W, Toronto
A: No, I suspect now that they are professional athletes, they are quite able obtain loans from somewhere – banks, agents, guys on the street – against future earnings.
Q: Doug. If and how much pressure is the league/union under to get a deal done so that there are no real games missed?
I am just wondering what the long term detrimental (financial) effects are done to the NBA? There are the hard core NBA fans (like 99% of your readers) and it does not matter they will be back whenever it happens. But isn't the fan base also made up largely casual fans that can take or leave basketball and take their entertainment dollars elsewhere. It just seems to be different now than it was just 12 years ago, there is so much more competition for attention. And it could be argued that the NBA loses more fans and more fans as the lock out continues. Thoughts?
A T, Niagara Falls
A: It’s obvious that no one “wants” to miss regular season games – they don’t even “want” to miss exhibition games – but the simple fact is there are people on the owners side who think this is bigger than the danger of alienating casual fans. They truly believe they won’t be able to operate a business unless there is drastic change to the economic model and while they completely understand the collateral damage it could cause, it’s obviously a risk some of them feel is worth taking.
Q: Hey Doug. I love the blog and read as often as possible. While the young-ins are watching their shows in the mornings, I read your articles. Love the sarcasm!!
I was wondering why everyone involved in the CBA talks in the NBA don't talk throughout the year? They know that the deadline is approaching and instead of spending the summer starting talks, then not talking because it's the summer and everyone wants to relax, they should have reps talk during the season to try and make some headway. That way they can go into the summer knowing they have made some progress and therefore, less work (and pressure) to quickly get something done.
Keep up the great work!!!
Darryl S, Oshawa
A: They do, actually. They meet every now and then – mostly around all-star breaks – to start the process of sharing information and feeling each other out over demands that may come. But as in any contract negotiations, whether it’s auto workers, journalists, letter carriers, sanitation workers, there is no real push until a deadline looms. It’s not right, but it’s the way it is.
But, the truth is when they get to that final talking stage, they have some idea of the framework the other side wants for the little meetings and chats they’ve had over the months.
Q: Doug, the Italian National Team's defence could offer a very clear example for the Raptors.
The starting 5 are Belinelli (SG), Gallinari (SF), Mancinelli (the best italian not NBA player) PF, Andrea (who is playing Center) and a PG. The team has not a classical Center but the defensive system is built to work all together to rebound and help the teammates in every situation. It's effective and the coach had just some weeks to build it. The players chemistry on the floor is something that you can perceive. Andrea Bargnani seems not to be a so poor defender. Do you have any thoughts that the Toronto coaches were not so able to build a similar defensive system in the last years? Andrea is not a great rebounder and defender but it seems to me that in a different system he can give a decent contribute to his team.
Paolo P, Rome
A: Ciao, Paolo! Many Irregulars will be glad to see your name back here.
Yes, it’s true that the Raptors were a terrible defensive team last season and that responsibility has to be shared by the coaches and by the players who tended to give lax effort at times. It’s part of the reason why Jay is no longer the coach and why they chose someone with a defensive bent to him, Dwane Casey, as his replacement.
It will be interesting to see what kind of system he designs because I do share your opinion that Andrea is not a bad one-on-one defender at all but needs a lot of work on figuring out where and when to help.
Q: "I don’t imagine we’ll ever get there, but it’s a good dream to have."
Especially when our best don't play. How much better would this team be with Thompson, Dalembert and Steve Nash on it? We wouldn't win Olympic gold but it would certainly make things more interesting. Maybe top 10?
Tommy W, Toronto
A: It’d be better, no question, although I think you might be over-estimating the impact of a college freshman and an offensively-limited big man. But they would probably qualify for the Olympics behind Argentina from the FIBA Americas tournament (although if you took the best from Brazil and played ‘em, I wouldn’t make book on Canada qualifying). If they got to the Olympics? Sure, top eight would be a pretty good result.
Q: Doug, daily reader here who is most appreciative of your work. Wondering about the technicalities of the current labour situation. In light of the European championships coming up, can an NBA executive have contact with a player if it is via their national responsibilities? For instance what if Maurizio Gherardini bumped in Andrea during the tournament? Could they talk shop in relation to the Italian program, or does the NBA relationship take precedence?
Dan M, London
A: Technically, no, they cannot. Now, that is in some ways an unenforceable rule, I think common decency dictates at least an exchange of pleasantries between countrymen but there can be no basketball contact whatsoever. And, trust me, I would imagine the NBA would have its people in place to assure that teams are violating the spirit of the rule.
The league, as a matter of fact, had to approve Scott Roth becoming an assistant with Leo’s team because there are three NBAers on the roster.
Q: Hi Doug. In the labour negotiations, isn't Peter Holt of the Spurs going to be there as well? I can't imagine the owners letting the commish negotiate solo with the players. To me, it looks like progress since the key negotiators are meeting to talk about the middle ground between the 2 polarized positions.
Phil W, Sydney
A: I had read once that Holt was going to be here and once where it said he wouldn’t be. Doesn’t really matter, though, because it will be Stern who comes up with the framework of the deal with Hunter and takes it to the owners for approval. That’s the way it’s worked in the past and how it will work again in the future; the commissioner would seemingly have the interests of all 30 clubs in mind rather than the owner of one franchise.