And now we wrap up the weekend mail
Again, you’ve come through in spades; with a few delights left over for the week.
Q: Hi Doug. If the NBA talks don't go well this weekend, and part, or all of the NBA season is cancelled, would you care to speculate on the impact it might have on the world of pucks? I would think a sports fan might tune into hockey, simply because nothing else is available.
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: As the young ‘uns say:
More pucks fans?
I can’t say for sure, but I imagine inveterate television-watching sports fans may tune into a Blue Jackets-Predators game (you must be proud I know those teams, right?) if there’s nothing else better on the tube.
You know, like the fireplace channel. Or soccer.
Q: Hi Doug. In looking at the Raptors' salary obligations for the coming seasons, I noticed that several players with large contracts (particularly Bargnani and Amir Johnson) have significant salary increases each season. Given that the Raptors are unlikely to use their cap space this offseason (if there is one) and would be better off using it in 2012 (better free agent class; not going anywhere this year anyway), is it possible for the team and the players to re-negotiate those contracts to front-load them somewhat and therefore give the team more cap flexibility in the future?
Daniel A, Toronto
A: No, under the expired CBA – and there’s been no indication this will change at all – contracts cannot be renegotiated. They can be extended in their last year, but not torn up and done again.
Q: You know why people hate on Jose? Because that EFFIN Bill Simmons keeps saying how lousy he is, and I know everyone here is reading his stuff. He looks real smart when all his Boston teams are winning, but when things are not so obvious, he is wrong on pretty much 80% of the stuff he throws out there. I hate to be all conspiracy theory, but do you think ESPN has some sort of mandate to bash on T.O. teams, because they know that a lot of Canadians go there and it obviously generates huge traffic when they bash us, or am I thinking too much into this?
Shawn L, Bowmanville
A: Do you think it’s out of the realm of possibility that some scribblers throw stuff out there knowing it’ll cause all kinds of angst while they sit back and giggle?
Torontonians seem to me to have very thin skin and it’s kind of fun to watch/read/listen to the reaction.
Q: Hey Doug. Not really a question here...more of a story. Its 1980 and my sister and I are taking advantage of Dad's company tickets to watch the Expos play the Phillies and Dodgers in the split season playoffs. Sitting about ten rows down from us is one Donald Sutherland (who i heard travelled on the team plane back then...ask Griff...he would know) Anyway, Mr. Sutherland is scoring the game while the Expos are pitching but whenever a Philly/L.A. pitcher is on the mound, he puts away his scoresheet, slides his finger discreetly to the top of his nose and then...as the pitch is released...he puts a whammy on it by sliding said finger down his nose and then wiggling his fingers in the air(hard to describe properly) This is not a one time thing either....he does this for EVERY pitch thrown in both series (although I missed the Blue Monday game and didn't see him). Still one of the weirdest things I have seen a celebrity do in public although my sister and I seemed to be the only ones watching him.
Okay here's a question. You've probably seen a lot of celebs in your basketball travels. What's the weirdest thing you've seen a public figure do during the course of a game?
Scott M, Toronto
A: I’ve got nothing but that’s a good story everyone should hear.
I did once, while covering a Knicks-Pacers playoff series way back in the day (think Larry Johnson four-point play) see Spike Lee try to “hex” Reggie Miller at every turn.
But the HOTH hardly attract the ‘A’ list stars, other than Jack Nicholson carrying on a game-long conversation with Sam Mitchell one night.
Asked Sam what was said. His reply:
“I don’t know, he was talking, I was coaching, who knows what either of us said.”
Q: Alright Doug, what are your criteria to classify someone as an Irregular? Is it so many reads per week? Do you lose the label when you skip pass the seamhead stuff? Just wondering. Also, do you think you could get Mother Star to do a promotion with Free irregular t-shirts or something?
Maybe come to the website so many consecutive days and get a free t-shirt. Or better yet, get some block of tickets for a Raps game for all of us.
A T, Niagara Falls
A: For me to bestow Irregular Status does take some doing; I’ll paraphrase the oft-quoted Potter Stewart: “I can’t define what an Irregular is but I know one when I see one.”
And just keep hanging around, some of the Taller Foreheads might have something in mind to make us an openly identifiable group.
Q: Hey Doug! So we've got daily updates about the shenanigans NBA players are up to as they try to keep their skills sharp during the lockout. Some are tasting the delights of Europe and Asia; but other players have stayed home and instead are participating in Star-Studded-Streetball Games. And some hoops-deprived fans are even watching this stuff! And some reporters are (having to?) cover these workouts. So, Doug, as the lockout drags on, what are the more interesting things your fellow NBA reporters have been doing to stay as sharp as the players they (usually) report on? Have any taken their skills to Bejing yet? (And don't you even THINK of doing it!) Cheers!
Lorie P, London
A: Not sure anyone’s doing anything too interesting, actually. Lots of baseball; I ran into another member of the PBWA executive covering a Jays-Orioles game in Baltimore, saw an old friend from Jersey in the press box at Yankee Stadium and I know at least one Phoenix confrere is helping out on Diamondbacks coverage. Oh, and I saw tweets from Ira in Florida from – get this! – an NHL rookie camp tournament. Tee-hee!
Oh, and KC ran into a mutual now-agent friend from back in the HWSNBN days while covering a golf tournament in the Chicago area.
But as far as I know, no one’s fled the continent to work but not one’s spending afternoons and early morning searching out video of old TV commercials or cop dramas. They don’t know what they’re missing.
Q: Doug: Great article by Malcolm Gladwell. Here's a picture of him in the Toronto Star when he ran in a school track meet.
BTW, I've sided with owners in every sports labor dispute since Curt Flood. But with this one, I'm with the players. I don't believe the NBA owners' numbers are credible as Gladwell points out.
Walter D, Oakville
A: I’ll just say this:
In a negotiation like we’re seeing I don’t believe anyone’s numbers. Although I will say if I had a tendency to “side” with anyone in this particular instance, I’d hold my nose and take the players.
Q: Ciao Doug, tutto bene?
Maybe this mail is too long, please, Sir Douglas forgives it and my bad English.
Oscar Schmidt, Dejan Bodiroga, Sergei Belov, Theo Papaloukas and finally my beloved Dino Meneghin our Italian Mr Basketball: 5 amazing players.
I was lucky to see so many games of three of them in Italy: Oscar the shooting machine, Dejan the genius and Dino the Mountain.
Oscar, Dejan and Dino have a common factor in their careers, the Serbian Bogdan Tanjeviæ one of the best European coaches, for sure one of the smartest and clever men in the European sport.
Oscar in the Caserta team, near Napoli, and Dejan, in the Trieste team, north east of Italy near Slovenia, were both discovered and launched at a high professional level by Tanjevic.
The old Dino (he was over 42 years old) and the young Dejan (18 years) played in the same team in Trieste coached by … obviously Bogan Tanjevic.
Oscar was really, in my opinion, the best and most impressive shooter in the World's basketball history. He could score from everywhere. He played 11 years in Italy scoring more than 34,5 PPG. None could really stop him.
Bodiroga was called by Tanjevic in Trieste when he was 17 years old. He could not play in his country because of the Yugoslavian civil war. He spent 1 year just training with the Trieste team, not playing the games. In the second year Tanjevic said that he was ready to play for Trieste. Tanjevic literally said “Bodiroga is ready to become the best European point forward, NBA players included”. Everyone (coaches, fans and media) thought that it was the typical hyperbole of the Serbian coach. He seemed too young and inexperienced to be a factor in a top European championship. Then the Bodiroga’s spectacular and winning career in Europe started.
Dino, the great Dino: he is a sport’s legend in Italy. From the age of 17 to 45, Meneghin played for 28 years (YES 28!) in the Italian basketball’s championships at a professional level._13 Euro league Finals and a record seven wins, 12 Italian championships won, 7 Italian Cups, 271 games in the Italian National team,8 European championships (2 bronze and a gold medal) 4 Olympic games and a silver medal, playing with and against 3 generations of players: Bob McAdoo, Mike D’Antoni, Joe Barry Carroll, Gallinari Senior the Danilo’s father, Belov, Oscar, Kukoc, Marzorati, Corbalan, Cosic, Petrovic, Divac, Sabonis, Dalipagic, Tkathenko, Martin, Radja, et cetera.
But numbers do not describe comprehensively the character, the determination and the personality of the most winning man in a team’s sport in Italy. He made almost unbeatable every team in which he played. His basketball’s life is divided almost equally between Varese, where he played 10 consecutive Euro league finals and Milan, for which he played 8 championship’s finals. He was popular and loved player all over the Europe. Every time that Dino was playing against the Maccabi, in one of the most legendary Euro League arenas, theYad Eliyahu in Tel Aviv, the Israeli crowd dedicated to Dino 5 minutes of standing ovation.
In 1990 when he was 40 he went to Trieste where he stayed for 3 seasons. Just playing for the Trieste team it happened one of the most exciting moments of the Italian basketball and of the Meneghin’s career: father and son, Dino and Andrea Meneghin were faced by opponents. And Andrea was playing for Varese the first Dino’s team. Andrea was a kid and was not a starter. When he entered on the floor Varese was on the Free Throws line. The fans were crazy and the shy son did not know what to do. Dino embraced him and put the son close to him ready to battle for the rebound, both happy, touched and smiling.
In this video a mix of the old and the young Dino. And Father and Son (Cat Stevens song could be a better sound track).
Paolo P, Roma
A: And today’s history lesson courtesy of a much respected Irregular.
Q: Hi Doug. Couple of quick baseball questions for you.
If you were beginning a team, what's the most important position you would try to fill on the team. You've mentioned before that a SG or SF is most important in basketball, what about baseball?
Do you think pitchers should be eligible for the MVP award or is the CY Young award sufficient for them?
Joe D, Mississauga
A: The first one’s a tough one because it’s such an individual team sport one guy really doesn’t make or break a team as in other sports.
But I am of the opinion that you can never, ever have enough pitching so I’d be looking for a stud starter or two or maybe even a closer.
And, yes, I think pitchers should win MVP awards if enough the voters think they should.
Q: Doug. With the coming potential of a shortened season (if not loss if you believe Stern's current threats) it had me thinking about how games get allocated, and I couldn't come up with how the 82 actually works. Teams play all teams at least twice - the east plays the west twice. That's 15 teams - so 30 games for a schedule. With 14 other teams in one's conference to then play, some will get played 4 times and some 3 to get to 82. Each team within the division accounts for 4 games (16 games total). How do the 36 get split between the remaining 10 teams - 6 teams 4 times, 4 teams 3 games? Is it fair (i.e. if you got Chicago, Miami and Orlando for 3 of your 6 out of division four game opponents, would you get the other 3 against the worst 3 teams in the Southeast and Central - to pick an Atlantic/Raptors possible example)
Too much math?
Thanks for what you can answer.
Geoff H, Toronto
A: They get split through alternating divisions and teams, some years it’s three games against one team, some years it’s four. Totally fair? No. But you take the good with the bad.
Q: Hey Doug, big fan. I know it's fairly early to start talking Raptors given the current CBA status, however I was just curious about your views on which types of players, or more specifically whom the Raptors will target in the upcoming free agency pool, whether they are UFAs or RFAs.
Mario S, King City
A: They need a starting small forward and a backup shooting guard although Barbosa is pretty good at that role. And maybe another young big for the end of the bench. Oh, and a third PG maybe.
Q: Bonjour Monsieur Doug...Did the Yankees disrespect baseball last night? Shouldn’t they have used a few more regulars? Where was Mariano?
Today's musical query...Mcphatter's It's a lovers' question.
Basketball 101...Coaches all say watch the ball, but do you do that when trying to get rebounding position?
All the best!
Bob E, Kanata
A: Maybe the Yanks did a little bit by not using Rivera in the ninth but he had worked the night before if memory serves; and it was a dude hitting a buck oh eight who drilled the homer; you’d think a major leaguer of any stripe could have gotten him out. The other use of pitchers I don’t have a problem with and all the other regulars – aside from a hobbled A Rod – played.
Now, coaches often say watch the ball and your man, which in itself seems a tad difficult, and some do preach turning and face-guarding an offensive rebounder so there has to be a middle ground. And it often depends on the Basketball IQ of the defender, having a clue to what’s going on.
Q: Good Morning. Several days ago you estimated it would take roughly 23 days to get going once some form of deal is done. Are you still comfortable with that number? And any comment on Stern's threat/retraction of cancelling the whole season?
John P, Minneapolis
A: Sure, I’m still okay with 23 and if they need to condense it to 18 or 19, that’d probably work, too. Jam the exhibition games into three days instead of five, give ‘em five days to sign guys instead of seven, or four days of practice instead of six. Might make for sloppy basketball right off the bat but what’s that big deal with that?
And I believe Stern’s “threat” to cancel the entire season right off the bat was, as he said, “ludicrous.”