The end of the weekend mail
This is one of the best in quite a while, folks.
Enjoy it while I’m off covering a marathon, which takes another thing off the Grunt Bucket List (not really, but it’ll still be a first)
Q: Greetings, Mr. Doug! It's been a while. I haven't forgotten about this space; I just don't get around to it much these days. I will try to do better.
Here's a question that may have been answered in my long absence. All this talk of the BRI has me wondering what, exactly, are its practical results. That is, do players get a cheque for their share on top of their salary? If so, is the cheque equal for all players or reflective of their respective salaries? Or is the BRI given to the Players Association for funds? It's all very confusing. Hope you can elucidate.
Guy M, Vancouver
A: I’m trying to figure out the easiest way to explain this – and I certainly haven’t done it to this point – so here goes:
BRI “is” the players salary.
It is the total money available, after accountants from the league scour books each July, to pay the players under the cap and tax system. It includes TV revenues, ticket sales, some merchandising, some concessions, some signage, some league-wide sponsorships. It is the amount by which the annual cap (51 per cent of it) and tax threshold (57 per cent of it) are determined.
It is the pie they are trying to equitably split; the one problem I have with it is that it’s gross revenue, it doesn’t take into account expenses incurred generating it, which then have to come out of league or team coffers.
But it is not extra or a bonus or anything like that, it is the money available.
If that’s not clear – and I have idea if it is – this link might get you to a place where it’s more clearly explained.
Q: Hey Doug, since so far we seem to be having an extremely great playoffs for Baseball, how about a top 5 of baseball playoff memories, either in person or on the tube.
Enjoy the weekend.
Scott M, Ilderton
A: Okay, dark recesses of the mind, time.
In no particular order:
Kirk Gibson’s homer in the ’98 World Series.
More drama than you can imagine and two of the greatest broadcast lines ever.
And this one
Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.
Jack Morris vs. Tom Glavine. Maybe the best 1-0 game of my lifetime.
Game 6 of the 1975 World Series
Not Carlton Fisk’s homer but the one that save the game by Bernie Carbo. Still the single greatest baseball game I’ve ever seen.
And for pure zaniness and all kinds of crazy things happening, and the only one of these I saw live and in person, I’m going with Jays 14, Phillies 14 in Game 4 of the 1993 World Series.
Q: Hey Doug. Pretend you're the mediator in the NBA labour dispute. You want to suggest one demand that each side should drop. What owner demand do you ask to be dropped/amended? On which demand do you tell the players to give their head a shake? And finally, from the fans' perspective, what is the single most positive change that could come out of this dispute's resolution?
Gary M, Ottawa
A: Let me answer the last one first in our backwards kind of way: The best thing, I guess, is some sort of more even financial playing field. For the most part – and it’s not 100 per cent true – teams that are willing to spend gobs of tax money have a leg up; I think that has to change, either to make the tax far more punitive or staggered so that teams that may not want to pay it aren’t so far behind the others. How to do that is the difficult thing.
Now, for the sides?
I tell the owners to come off their demands for 53 per cent of the BRI, although if they go to 50-50, I’d let them lop some money off the top for marketing expenses. And I’d tell the players to give their head a shake on any insistence that all contracts be fully guaranteed (there has to be a way to make them partially-guaranteed) and if it’s true they’re looking for 10 per cent annual raises, I’d make them cut that to something more sensible, like between five and six.
Q: Your request is my command! I have a question for you: Although I know you don't get a lot of opportunities to watch/listen to sports during the NBA season, I assume that you have had the opportunity from time to time. So, what words/phrases do announcers use that make you want to throw a brick at the TV/radio? One that drives me crazy is "athleticism."
I am so amazed at how your blog continues to be such an interesting read, despite the fact that there is no real NBA news!
Keep up the great work.
Tim H, Windsor
A: I’m with you on the “athleticism” thing but every time I hear anybody talk about a guy’s ability “to score the basketball” I want to throttle him. That’s so far at the top of the list you can’t see the second one.
But if there are others, I’d probably put “warrior” on the list and round out the top three with “athleticism.”
Oh, and toss “great effort” on there, isn’t that what they’re supposed to do?
Q: Now that the NBA and NBPA have agreed to introduce an outside mediator to their negotiations, I was wondering if this is just the first of other alternative resolution mediums they might try. I am thinking a one on one with Michael vs. Kobe. The pay per view alone would be enough to bridge the BRI gap. Maybe a chess match with Bonner or Battier vs. Stern: winner sets the cap. How about a monopoly game with Cuban vs. Garnett where the winner sets contract lengths...I was wondering Doug, if you could suggest a list of alternative resolution mediums and the player and owner best suited to represent their parties.
Rob Neves, London
A: Five words:
David. Billy. Steel. Cage. Match.
Or how about a “quote-off” between Metta Word Peace and, say, Stan Van Gundy? Most outrageous statement wins.
How about Lamar Odom and Hump in a dishwashing/housecleaning pay-per-view to augment BRI?
Mikhail Prokorov vs. Andrei Kirilenko: I Love Russia More Because …
Dan Gilbert vs. LeBron James in anything.
Over to the Irregulars for more.
Q: Doug...Best couple of comedy lines ever?
The WKRP turkey one.
Norm's..Did you ever feel like it's a dog eat dog world, and you're wearing milkbone underwear?
Amos and Andy's!!!! ...If she looks like Sapphire's momma, the Lone Ranger gonna be alone for a long time.
And where is this from... You say you've been cleanin floors all day, and your legs are ready to buckle... Is that what's troublin you bippo? Is it White Fang ( definitely not Blacktooth) from the old Soupy Sales show?
Bob E, Kanata
A: Nothing – NOTHING – beats “as God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”
Ed Norton: Hey, Ralph, you care if I smoke?
Ralph: I don’t care if you burn.
Kramer: My boys are out there and loving it.
Jerry: And you want to be my latex salesman?
Got to be more, right folks?
Q: Hi Doug! I used to think I had to create these long-winded, winding intro's to my questions that weren't specifically Raptor-Related (which was, like, all of them!) to give them some validity for inclusion in your mailbag. Now? Not so much! No Raptors? No worries, no parameters!!!
So I'm diving right in: Verlander's 133-pitch performance in Thursday's game against Texas. He had to do it. And he did. Can you recall other pitching performance, post-season, that were as expected and still thrilling? Thanks. Go Tigers! (And gird your loins. Next week I've got a question about World Water Polo Championships! And I won't feel silly doing it.)
Lorie P, London
A: One comes quickly to mind and should probably be the gold standard:
Bob Gibson, 1967 World Series, three-days rest, Game 7, throws a three-hitter, as good as everyone expected; and hit a home run for good measure.
The Jack Morris game I alluded to earlier; he might have been the biggest “gamer” on the hill of our era, you needed a win, he’d get it for you.
Of the more modern era, Curt Schilling’s bloody sock Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS as the Sox were coming back from 3-0 down?
Q: Mr. Smith. You mentioned your candidate for the best gig in sports which made me think of an idea for one of your lists. How about a list of the best left-handers ever to play in the NBA? Or a second list could be an all-star, all-time southpaw team.
I remember a couple of years ago the Raptors had a plethora of lefties, and I'm pretty sure the entire starting lineup one night was left-handed. Am I right about that, or would that statistic not even be available?
Thanks for the entertainment and information.
Jim A, Fenelon Falls
A: I remember that Raptors roster, too, but for the life of me I cannot remember exactly who it was. Am sure some Irregular’s going to be all over it, right?
As for the league as a whole?
Well, being a port-sider myself, I have an affinity for lefties and there have been any number of all-time greats.
Not bad, eh?
Now, the proviso is this: Both Larry Bird and LeBron James write with their left hands but shoot right-handed so I didn’t include them. If you want to count them, be my guest.
And I’ve got Manu, Bosh and Lamar Odom on the current team.
Q: Hi Doug, taking into consideration that I'm in agreement with you that if you're playing games you play to win... I've been trying to figure out how next year's draft order is determined if the season is completely lost? Do they use the same draft order as last year? Do they re-do the ping pong thing using the same weightings as last year? Can you shed some light?
Roshan A, Toronto
A: Oh, thank heavens!
Got this one, again.
(Sorry, it’s a running gag here).
The only light I can shed is that no one know and let’s let them cancel the season before we get into that, okay?
Q: Doug. I have lost interest in the NBA contract talks, what the players are doing and when the season might start. I will probably watch a couple of games when they resume to see if a new coach makes any difference. However, my enthusiasm for basketball has never been lower. I really don't care any more.
I wonder if the majority of NBA "fans" feel the same?
Jim J, Kingston
A: I’m sure there are tens of thousands of people across North America who feel just like you but, if history serves as any lesson and I truly think it does, there will be a short period of total alienation of fans and disinterest from them but things will get back to something close to normal after not too long a time.
I get the feeling there’s an overwhelming sense of boredom about the minutia of the negotiations but it’s quite separate from the actual games.
Q: Hi Doug, love the blog, thanks for the writing and beat-game. I've got a Jonas question that pertains to the lockout and hopefully a conclusion. I haven't been following his current club with a magnifying glass but right now, with the no contact, it's highly possible he could be used differently for his club than he would down the line ultimately for the Raptors revolution. With that in mind, he could be developing bad habits or not be getting the proper training and coaching to help his weaker elements, like post-work, extending his range a touch, proper help D, etc etc. And I don't know his coach for the Rytas club, but he wouldn't really have any incentive to do anything but have his club try to win, any means necessary.
So, couple of questions, sorry for the long-wind, is this something that Casey and Colangelo would have as high priority once the lockout ends? Will they send a guy over to help with the proper expert training he'll need to bring his game to the NBA? Just keep an eye and chat when they can? To me, it just seems like this year and next will be monstrous as far as his development. His ceiling and upside seems scary good and I know a lot of fans would be amped to see a dude come and bring a more dominating game down-low. This year away from the Raptors for Jonas seems a touch make or break. Or am I over-thinking over-hyping this? Love for your insight.
William L, Toronto
A: Yes, it will be a very high priority once contact is allowed but I do think you might over-thinking this a little bit.
And here’s something to think about that might appease you a little bit:
The head coach of Valanciunas’s Lithuanian team, Aleksandar Dzikic, was on Dwane Casey’s staff in Minnesota in 2005.
Q: Hi Doug. Read your blog daily which I guess makes me an irregular. Maybe not a question but I hope you will print this still.
I saw you on Prime Time Sport Friday night and an opinion I hear many media personalities "spout" is that no one cares about the NBA strike and it will not be missed. The argument is if anyone cares they only will miss the league after the NFL season.
Hopefully I speak for at least some of the irregulars in saying I very much miss the NBA. I even miss the cheesy reports from camp each day hearing who looked good at practice. I miss the optimism each new season even though my favorite team(Raptors) are likely to stink....again.
I know the "hurt" will only increase as fall turns to winter and I am stuck trying to avoid the volumes of extra Leaf crap that is inescapable for sports fans in this area.
So please....next time the topic comes up mention that you have heard from one fan who misses the NBA, and has missed it since July 1st.
Mike D, Cambridge
Q: Doug, I know you are against tanking a season. But what about a single game? There have been times in world championship play that I can think of off the top of my head, where a losing result would result in a better situation for a team in the next round (knocking out a great team in a surprising situation by losing to an upstart, getting a better next round match-up, etc.). Or it could be a team in its last regular season game that would benefit from a better draft pick or, as was the case with the Jays this year, potentially protecting their first round draft pick should they finish in the bottom 15 and then sign a Type A Free Agent. In fact, for that very reason, I wasn't cheering on their comeback in the season-ender. As it turned out, win or lose, they still would not have made the bottom 15 (a rather perverse way of saying that, isn't it?). But the principle of winning by losing WAS feasible.
Gary M, Brampton
A: I understand what you’re talking about and see your point; perhaps I’m in an overwhelming minority here but I think if you “tank” at any time, you’re cheating the game – which is bigger than anybody – as well as yourself, your teammates and the ticket-buying public.
I’m not naïve enough to think it doesn’t happen all the time in all sports and, yes, I can imagine the “benefits of losing” argument is one that fans will agree with but I just can’t.
Q: What are the 5 best WNBA plays you have seen? Ok just kidding!! How about in the spirit of Don Cherry, what are the top 5 basketball fights you have seen?
David S, Toronto
A: I haven’t seen five in person, in fact I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one in person but here’s a quick list from memory.
You know the one? When Jeff Van Gundy was dragged around while holding onto Alonzo Mourning’s leg? Classic fisticuff comedy, that was.
Dr. J-Larry Bird
I don’t know many remember the intensity of that rivalry back in the day but it’s not often two true superstars go at it like they did.
Had to look this one up because it was in the dark recesses of my mind but, yep, they tangled and Chuck bounced a ball off Shaq’s head. Cool.
Marcus Camby-Danny Ferry
Marcus through a heymaker overhand after breaking away from someone. Helluva punch, as I recall.
Had to look this one up, too, but Oak kind of taught X with a few slight jabs to the face before they got tangled up.
>Q: Hi Doug! I'm SURE you don't want me submitting video questions with my Saturday morning coffee, as multimediac (yes, I made up that word) as that would be. I came across this link here with the morning cup:__http://www.rugbyworldcup.com/home/news/newsid=2058954.html#fuimaono+sapolu+misconduct+charges+upheld
Now, I didn't watch the match, didn't hear what was said to the ref and like you like to point out: there are three sides to any story, your side, my side and the truth. What drew my eye was the sort of retribution from RWC. Suspension that could be, um, suspended for some community work and `rehabilitation'. After watching Shaq's reaction to being fined $35,000 (Whyyyyyyyyyyy???), do you ever think the NBA should consider revising their retribution policies? Any suggestions? By the way, that Shaq reaction is high up on my list of humorous interactions. Any good stories there from the Raps?
All the best!!!
David T, Ottawa
A: I think it would be absolutely perfect if players who ran afoul of the minor laws of the game – stuff they’d get hit with an inconsequential fine for, like being late for plane, not leaving the court in a timely matter after an ejection, other minor stuff – were made to do hour-long free autographs sessions or had to make additional public appearances at schools or homeless shelters or hospitals or somesuch. Now, NBA players do an awful lot of that it is, but extra would probably be more an inconvenience to them than writing a $5,000 cheque or something.
Maybe when they get done with BRI and system issues in these negotiations, they can put something like that in.
Q: How close is Bryan to hiring another person whom will either help him with or take over the GM's role? Also, is there any possibility that Bryan will take over Mr. Peddie's role once he retires?
Joe D, Mississauga
A: There isn’t a lot of information forthcoming on that but I’d say he’s close. That could mean a couple of weeks or a month, I have no idea. The list is small and the due diligence – interviews, talking to references, etc. – is going on but not complete, the last time I asked.
And I don’t think Bryan has his sights set on Peddie’s job, which may not come open until the sale of the organization is complete.
Q: Hey Doug, you may have already answered this but why are the Raptors looking for a new GM? Is BC just looking to focus on other aspects of his job? I presume he would get final say on any trades so why bring in another GM?
Barry C, Toronto
A: Why? To augment the front office, add another voice or set of eyes and to take some the administrative stuff off Bryan’s plate. I still have no doubt that the final say on all significant matters will be Colangelo’s but adding another guy to the team – especially with Maurizio taking on a different role – can’t hurt.
And I wouldn’t be so quick to suggest it’s “another GM” because the exact title has yet to be determined.
Q: Hi Doug! Your blog is still great without the basketball to focus on; I rather enjoy it as one big digression..._ _It is a very curious void not having hopes and dreams this time in October about the beginning of the HOTH's season. After many years of treading water (or worse), last season ended on a rather positive note for the Raps, and I was looking forward to watching the young guys grow, and to seeing if Mr Casey could help the team play a lick or two of defense...
But the absence is no longer a conscious thing, and life goes on.
As the fall turns into winter I wonder how many long suffering Raptors fans might find it rather enjoyable to have their evenings free of the frustrations of poor performances and lost games.
Having said that, I'm not much of a fan of pucks, and I'll miss getting my basketball fix.
I only see American College Hoops during March Madness.
Do you think we'll get more NCAA Basketball on Canadian TV this year to make up for the lack of NBA (if the lockout drags on)? I can't imagine the Canadian TV rights being terribly expensive, and I really hope that the games would at least draw comparable ratings to darts or poker..._ _Hope you stay dry this weekend!
Matt S, Toronto
A: I will preface this by saying that I have no definitive word on what might replace live NBA games on the various networks but I can say with almost certainty it won’t be more NCAA games. First off, I’m not sure the NCAA schedule fits the NBA schedule in games that are available, the NCAA rights are already held in Canada so that might be an issue for one of the networks and, frankly, I don’t know that there’d be the interest. I’m betting more pucks and more canned crap will fill however many hours are empty with no NBA games.