And here we go with the start of the mail
Man, you folks really came through this week.
Had an hour long Q and A the other day, some of my own questions in the paper the next day and now we’re all over the place here.
And lots for tomorrow, too. One last chance if you want in on the fun. Click. Write. Send.
Q: Doug, on X-factor, Simon didn't think that a contestant's rendition of Bob Marley's Everything's Gonna Be Alright" met with the theme of the night, as it was supposed to be Rock, not reggae.
I only ever hear Bob, these days, on rock stations. Bob's in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Your thoughts? Is it rock, or reggae?
Paul B, Toronto
A: Can I answer: “I don’t care, as long as I get to listen to it”?
Probably not, eh?
Well, here’s one for you: Do you ever listen to reggae stations? How many exist?
I’m guessing the lines of music seem so blurred at the moment it might be impossible to tell but if you put a gun to my head, I’d say it was reggae made popular with the masses by rock stations and Simon might – for once – have been technically right. But it was a nitpick and he’s a dope.
Oh, and yes, Bob is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but so are balladeers and folk artists and the like. Not a big distinction.
Besides, his music – however you label it – is wonderful.
Q: Wonder why you don't see fit to cover our Canadian professional league which features not only ex NBA'ers, ex Division 1 players and several outstanding Canadians. The games are exciting, the skill level is high and it's entertaining. If we're ever going to develop a competitive national program I think this league (NBL) could contribute a lot as pro leagues in Europe, Australia and elsewhere already do. Personally I'm sick of hearing about the billionaires fighting the millionaires of the NBA. There's another option and it's worth supporting.
Ron M, Halifax
A: I think I’ve been pretty supportive of the NBL, actually. But here’s the problem with covering a league as opposed to a team, especially a league that’s only on the periphery of our coverage area: You certainly can’t write “game stories” because the interest in which team beat what team isn’t nearly there enough (heck, we shy away from “game stories” when we’re writing about the HOTH) and to do even a weekly feature piece is sometimes difficult with other tugs on the time. I will tell you I’ve been talking to the bosses lately about getting more involved in some kind of NBL stories, it’s a matter of scheduling and finding out what serves the most of our readers the best.
Q: Wow things sound serious and there might not be a season at all! So what would happen to the draft if that were the case? ;o)
On a completely different note, it is nice seeing Mark Howe getting into the hall of fame. This made me think about children of pro athletes. To a large extent, they get both the nature and nurture side of the equation given their genetics and access to training and coaching. So who would you say were the top 5 most successful progenies of pro athletes (whether or not they went into the same sport as their parent)?
Richard Y, Kincardine
A: I’m going to go on the assumption that it’s not necessary that the off-spring eclipsed the accomplishment of the parent, right?
So, here, perhaps, is a representative list that should get the Irregulars chatting.
Rick and Brent and Jon Barry.
Muhammad and Laila Ali.
Calvin and Grant Hill.
Bobby and Brett Hull.
Archie and Peyton and Eli Manning.
Not bad, eh?
Am sure there are more: Bonds, Ernhardt, Griffey, Andretti come rapidly to mind but I like my five.
Q: Hello Doug. The union seemed to have two options when they decertified. The option they chose I believe says something to the effect that the union was unable to negotiate effectively on the players behalf. This option is said to still leave room for a season while the other would have killed it.
Did the union have this option in the summer or did they have to go through months of negotiation? If they did need to go through this process do you think this way is better or should they just have blown the union up in the summer?
Robert M, Charlottetown
A: The option to either make a disclaimer of interest or to decertify has always been available. In fact, there are those who think this particular legal gambit came about four months too late and was something the former union should have done right off the bat to add a sense of urgency to the negotiations that ultimately failed.
But it’s not right to say this move leaves more room to salvage a season; in fact, the opposite may be true. To decertify, there would have been a window of about 45 days between petitioning to decertify and an actual vote of the entire union membership, a time when Billy Hunter could have continued negotiating on behalf of the NBAPA. That option no longer exists.
Q: Doug, I know you’re not a labour relations expert, but now that antitrust complaints have been filed in Minnesota and soon in California (as of this writing) I'm curious about the players who are employed by the Raptors. They don't play in the US, and obviously our labour laws are a bit different here. So would they consider filing a complaint in Ontario court? Any reasons for or against doing so? Interested to hear your take.
Simon S-G, Toronto
A: The former union, the league, its contracts and its organizations are all part of a US-based industry, I cannot for the life of me imagine anyone wanting to wade into foreign courts. It opens a totally unnecessary can of legal worms that I am sure they don’t want to deal with.
It would be akin, I’m told, to an international union that covers workers in multiple nations dealing with branch offices of the same company in those multiple nations deciding to “separate” one from the other. Not worth it in time, energy, cost and legal systems.
Q: How much better does the Valanciunas draft pick look right now?
Ryan L, Ottawa
A: Lots of that sentiment around; and with no disrespect because I don’t know what your stand was in July, but I wonder how much of it comes from places that were ripping the pick that night and immediately after.
I’d love to say it was a choice make with true labour-strife foresight but it just worked out that way, when the draft was held, we had no clue for certain when the kid would come.
But it is indeed good that he’s playing, no question.
Q: Doug. I was actually leaning towards the players, thinking that the owners were asking too much, now, not o much. Why? I read that the night before the "vote" (no one in their right mind can think it was one) that Stoudemire was heading out on his yacht and wondering where to go for dinner.
Now I just feel sorry not only for the people who need the NBA for a living but also for the players didn't vote and would have been happy to make the min. to play in the NBA.
Do you think it passes with a league vote?
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: Oh, there’s no question it was an ill-advised tweet from Stoudemire but I’m pretty sure some owner did something equally ostentatious on Sunday night, we just didn’t hear about it.
Would that proposal have passed? I wonder. The fan in me wants to think yes, the indication that more than a few player reps polled their teammate and still blew things up make me wonder.
But, as we’ve seen with “real” elections, people tend to get caught up on one side of something in public and do something entlrely different once they get in the sanctity of the voter’s booth so I honestly don’t know.
Wish we’d have found out, though.
Q: Doug, as a way to keep some basketball in this blog could you try and provide some information from other NBA cities and how there fans are reacting. It would be nice to see how Toronto compares with other NBA cities. Do we compare in our disgust, are we as divided as other American cites? Which teams are more likely to loose fans, which franchises are more likely to be hurt, and which owners belong in what camp?
A lot of room for more basketball talk despite your apparent lack of interest.
Steph R, Glencoe
A: Um, my “lack of interest?” Let’s put it this way: Why would I waste my time and yours reiterating what I’ve said a thousand times: There is a large sense of boredom with the whole process tempered with disgust and sadness that the game some fans love has been taken away from them. Want me to go city by city? Ain’t gonna happen, sorry. Fans in Toronto are representative of 28 other cities, there’s nothing more I can, or need to, say.
Q: Two questions/observations asked in frustration over the NBA lockout:
Why do NBA (and NHL, for that matter) games generally cost more to attend than NFL games, especially given the NFL has only 8 home games and larger rosters? Is it the stadium sizes? TV revenues?
I achieved greatest clarity on this whole issue when I learned that Aaron Rodgers makes $11m/season. Sidney Crosby $8m. Think of all the mediocrity making between 8 and 11 million in the NBA. Something out of whack?
Gary M, Ottawa
A: I think the phrase might be “economies of scale” with bigger stadiums, more levels of pricing and the ability to generate in one day what it would take hockey or basketball teams to generate in several.
Oh, and the clarity issue: Look, relatively, at all sports. The entire salary structure is completely out of whack with respect to reality. As it is in the movie and entertainment business and the Wall Street brokers/hedge fund/investment bank world.
Q: Are you still ordering from Pizza Delight in Orangeville?
Rob F, Halifax
No, and I miss Thursdays at the race track and the joint across the street in the mall where the guy used to cut ties off halfway up to put up on the wall behind the bar. Oh, and the odd afternoon at the old joint on the main street.
(Totally insider stuff but a few people will get it, sorry).
Q: If all contracts are void...TOTAL FREE AGENCY.
Who are the first three players BC goes after?
(Gotta stay positive on this whole thing)
Kevin M, Maple
A: Why not make calls to Durant, Paul and Howard?
Go big or go home.
Q: Three Raptors/Hoops Questions:
With little hope of a 2011-12 season happening, does this make Bryan look good for selecting Jonas in the draft? Conventional wisdom was saying he would have been picked higher had he been available to play immediately.
Please explain a non-guaranteed contract. Seems self-contradictory to me. I thought the word "contract" implies a guarantee.
The owners' proposal was said to include an "amnesty" clause, where one player could be waived and their salary would not count towards cap/tax. Do you think Toronto would use such a clause if available? I love Jose but maybe he's a bit overpaid?
Eric E, Toronto
A: If you sign a contract worth, say, $40 million over four years and it’s fully guaranteed, if they want to get rid of you after 18 months or three years, they have to pay you the total amount still owing.
If that same contract is not guaranteed, all they have to do is say goodbye and put the rest of the money owed in the bank.
And I’ve been consistent in saying if there’s an amnesty, I don’t think they should use it. Of course, that depends a lot on the final salary cap number but they’re positioned contract-wise pretty well and don’t need to do anything, in my opinion.
Q: Hi Doug. Does MLSE have any plans to fill the empty ACC dates that the Raptors would have used?
Kevin M, Maple
A: More pucks?
Nah, not sure they can jam any more of that in there but you can imagine there are booking agents scrambling to put on concerts by bands and people I have no interest in seeing.
Trust me, if there’s a way to maximize the use of the arena, they’ll find a way to do it. But haven’t heard anything official or anything like that.
Q: Doug, isn't a big leg of an anti-trust suit that one business entity is operating as a monopoly? Doesn't this incessant talk of going to Europe (with some, like Deron Williams already doing it) merely show that the players DO have alternatives? And if the players' response is that they shouldn't have to change countries to work, doesn't that effectively eliminate foreign players from the affected players by the alleged anti-trust violation?
Gary M, Brampton
A: You’d certainly think that’d be part of it, wouldn’t you?
But, doctor, let me say this: Good lawyers can probably convince people that red is blue and Wednesday follows Sunday so I don’t know that it’s part of the grand equation.
Sneaky buggers, those lawyers are.
Q: Hey Doug: As a grunt with a wide spectrum of assignments, which athletic competition features the best overall athlete? On a similar note, what athletic skill is the hardest to master?
Thanks again for keeping us amused/informed during these long days!
Tim H, Windsor
A: This is one of those debates that will rage forever and an argument you cannot win.
Some people say soccer players but I see an awful lot of walking out there; not to mention writhing around in what may or may not be pain.
Some say basketball players but I’ve seen some loafing and the games really aren’t that long.
Some say hockey, I say too few shifts, some say rugby and I can see that being a good bet.
No one says baseball or golf, rightfully so.
Personally? I’m going with basketball but I honestly think it takes an incredible amount of skill and dedication to play any of them and each has its own unique set of necessary skills.
I still say basketball, though. But with rugby players and decathletes awfully close behind.
As for the most difficult individual skill? I agree with Ted Williams, it’s hitting a baseball. Round ball, round bat, movement on ball, split second to determine fastball/slider/curve/inside/outside/high/low.
Now, I was told landing a figure skating quad’s tough but …, nah, I’m sticking with hitting a baseball.
Q: Hi DS, apologies if this has already been asked. Should the season get a late start (if it starts at all), would the All-Star game go as planned or would it be nixed altogether?
Simone S, Toronto
A: While nothing has been said officially, I fear for the all-star game. It hasn’t been cancelled – yet – but if they are looking for days to steal to make up some abbreviated regular season schedule, it’s going to be the first casualty, as it was in 1999.
Now, they will make it up to Orlando and give them another one soon (probably 2014 because Houston’s got 2013 already) and it’s too bad for folks in Orlando that they might miss out on this year’s business in these tough economic times.
Me? I’d be quite glad to not have to fight I-4 traffic and deal with the all-star weekend crap and I don’t care if they never have another one anywhere. But that’s just me. And a bunch of my colleagues.
Q: When will the players begin picketing the NBA offices in New York?
Niels H, Willowdale
A: When you see pigs fly over the icicles of Hell as the cows come home, it’ll be done.
Q: Watching this 'Point of View' show with Matt, Jack and Leo and heard an interesting point from Leo. He said that everyone has an opening in their knee for the ACL and, something to the affect, that if that opening is less than 13mm there is (theoretically, of course) a higher chance for an ACL tear.
He also stated that Dr.'s can check the size of these openings. Which got me to thinking about NBA physicals. Technical medical talk aside, are, err, were NBA teams allowed to test for these types of pre-conditions or does/did the CBA protect players and allow only simple check-ups/physicals?
Nick M, Hamilton
A: Oh, yes. In fact, they give most draft eligible players extensive medical exams. And that’s why and how you hear about medical “red flags” about players, like the one everyone knew about Danny Granger, for instance.
And before any trade even reaches the point where players are to report to their new teams for physicals, there is usually an exchange of medical records and a discussion, if not only between team trainers, between team doctors.
Players are huge investments for teams, they do go to lengths to make sure they are getting fully healthy humans.
Q: Morning Doug, had to take a second to chime in about the whole BTB (Ban The Balls). In our ever-growing litigious society, when do my rights to a healthy life style get addressed? You touched on how easily other rights are supported (and limit mine) to the point that you won't be able to go outside and; look at, speak to or even come close to someone - without impacting THEIR rights. e.g. the look you gave me has given me nightmares, your gruff "Hello" had ruined my day and I lost my job …
Kids go to school for many things in addition to academics and one of them is (used to be) sports. Is there any correlation between the growing apathy (which I believe is increasing) and the great decrease in our participation in sports
Sorry for the rant - but this touches a nerve, curious to see which size of the majority I am "playing" with this time.
Always doing a great job, thanks very much.
Red D, High Park
A: I think there’s a huge correlation between the growing problem of youth obesity and basic lethargy and the fact far too many school boards in our province/country/world seem less inclined to provide the time, funding, and instruction necessary. As I understand it, in most high schools, and some junior and senior public schools, gym is not a mandatory subject. That’s counter-productive, in my opinion. And I think you’re playing with a very large majority.
Q: Hi Doug. Read Damien Cox's comment on the attempts at media manipulation by the Maple Leafs. I couldn't agree with him more. I was wondering if this problem was more acute with the Leafs or if this was a problem for the Raptors as well. In short, is this endemic throughout Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, or just the hockey division?
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: This is not me talking, this is a universally-held opinion from the men and women who cover the NBA on a regular basis and I know this because I deal with them at level I never thought I would both as a beat writer and as president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association:
Jim LaBumbard and his staff – currently Phil Summers and Roven Yau – are regarded among the absolute best in the business. They understand the needs of the media and try to meet them on every occasion, they hold the players accountable and make sure they fulfill their media obligations, they answer questions honestly and quickly and if they don’t have an answer they find one and neither I nor the people I work with have any quarrel with them as men, professionals and people who know how to do their jobs.
We, as a collective media, are lucky to have them.