And wrapping up the weekend ... Heeeeeere's Johnny!
Another day, another bunch of good ones.
You go through these while I go wrestle with more leaves.
Q: Hey Doug: In your long and illustrious career, what is the single best event you ever covered, and what was the single worst event you covered? I imagine you've hard more than a few good and bad, but I'm hoping you can narrow it down to the absolute best and worst.
Tim H, Windsor
A: I’m sure you’re not talking about mundane regular season affairs, or even one-off playoff games, are you?
So I’ll give you a good and a bad with the proviso that there have been a lot of both.
Raptors-Sixers, NBA East semifinal, 2001
Remember it? The drama of dueling 50-point games by Vince Carter and Allen Iverson, sidebar of Oak and Tyrone Hill, back and forth and back and forth. An awful lot of work for a grunt but, man, was it a lot of fun.
1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Three weeks of misery. Terrible housing in a dorm with a cement courtyard in a sketchy part of town, citizenry didn’t care, infrastructure sucked beyond comprehension. Oh, and the bomb.
Q: Hey Doug. Your comments about 'classics' got me pondering. Could we possibly have a list of your top 5 classic games/matches/events of all time?
Dell V, London
A: Of all time? Wow. Nearly impossible, isn’t it?
But here’s a starter, am sure Irregulars will add and perhaps, like another question soon to follow, we can do this more thoroughly over the passage of time.
So what I’ll do is give you five, each from a different sport, that I recall:
Borg-McEnroe, 1980 Wimbledon final.
Some see it as the greatest tennis match ever; must be close if I remember it.
Boston-Phoenix, Game 5, 1976 NBA Final
Triple-overtime, ref gets punched by a fan, more drama than you can imagine.
Montreal Canadiens-Soviet Red Army, New Year’s Eve, 1975
If I remember a pucks game from more than 35 years ago, it must have been pretty special.
Boston-Cincinnati, Game 6, 1975 World Series.
Forget Carlton Fisk, go look at Bernie Carbo’s three-run shot in the eighth as the big play.
Tom Waston-Jack Nicklaus, British Open 1982
The Duel In The Sun, I believe they call it, virtual match play with a major at stake and two of the all-time greats.
Q: Hello Doug. So, as this You-Know-What drags on and I'm really struggling to find the tiniest of nuggets of NBA-related news to keep this thing going...And this little corner of the Interweb is apparently still called "Raptors Questions"...do you think The Tall Foreheads are going to rename this and make it more all-encompassing? So we aren't limited to Raptors stuff? Ha! Like I ever was!!! But this is sort of basketball-related: I saw on Twitter (so it was undoubtedly accurate!) that some expensive meal or something for the NBA reporters stuck in the lobby was being "charged" to your "account" as President of the PBWA! Is this true? Is this part of the gig? You get "accounts"? Where? All the best restaurants, hotels and shops in North America? Or do you have "accounts" worldwide??? And are they, you know, "unlimited"? And is one of them for Holt-Renfrew? 'Cause they've got this Great Pre-Christmas thingy coming up...:) Cheers! (And thank you for the Remembrance Day thoughts on the blog! We must never, ever forget to remember. And give thanks.
Lorie P, London
A: Oh, how I with I had accounts all over world – yes, even Holt-Renfrew, which I understand is some high-falutlin’ store somewhere – but, alas, it’s not the case.
What we did, and Twitter was indeed true was suggest the PBWA spring for a meal for those held hostage to the talks, many of whom are/were illustrious members of our little cabal.
The fellow members of the Small But Mighty Three-Man Executive PBWA Board agreed, one of our leaders (VP For Life Asch) was stuck in the lobby so we had some pizza, I believe, delivered. And it wasn’t so much on my account but my suggestion that Steve got done, to be dutifully reimbursed from our coffers.
We’re not a rich little group, but we don’t mind feeding the hungry among us.
Others, like CBA Guru L. Coon, sprung for meals, too, can’t have grumbly stomachs of those waiting out hours of meetings.
Q: Oh all knowing seer...Since it is now a pop culture thingy...
What happened to Sara Lee's Banana Cake?
Did they run out of bananas? They have not offered this delight for years.
How about a list of who to watch in the CIS?
How about your dream threesome to be trapped in a cell phone free elevator?
Stay off Funk and Wagnall's front porch!
Bob E, Kanata
A: Never having had Sara Lee’s Banana Cake, I can’t give you an answer but now I wish I’d tried it, although I truly despise bananas.
The CIS stuff is something I do have to get cracking on; maybe this week. I’ve been tardy.
What if I got in an elevator with Hemingway, Red Smith and Scott Young? Think that’d be a story-tellers storytelling time?
But you’ve sparked a great series of lists that I’ve now stored in my cluttered little mind. Different “categories” for different foursomes. Good idea.
And Funk and Wagnall’s front porch isn’t too bad, isn’t everything on it hermetically sealed?
Speaking of …
Q: Hi Doug. Let's assume the Players and Owners solve their differences next week. Will you celebrate? What will you look forward to the most? Which one of the current crop of Raptors will you look forward to seeing the most? How long till the PG debate kicks in?
Mike D, Barrie
A: Celebrate? Don’t think that’s a word I’d use at all. It’ll be nice to have some certainty to my next few months and a schedule to digest and games to look forward to but I think “celebrate” is a stretch. How about “accept?”
I presume I’d most look forward to the games, they’re far more interesting than the practices or the travels and I guess if there was one kid I’m interested in seeing – given that Valanciunas won’t be here – it might be Ed Davis, just to see what he’s been working on in the extended summer.
The PG debate? Never really went away, just dormant I presume.
Q: I was thinking about your bit about Frazier and Ali earlier this week and what constitutes a "rivalry". And it got me thinking about team sports. Specifically, have there ever been any cases where a player has refused a trade or turned down a free agent contract because the team in question had a player already on their roster that they had too strong of a rivalry with? Any cases where two players had gone head-to-head and come out with ill feelings so many times that they would refuse to play together? And since the answer there might be "nope, none", are there any cases of players who started off as teammates, then got split up and became great rivals? (And for that definition, I'd have to say that they competed against each other in playoffs multiple times.)
Chris C, Toronto
A: I certainly can’t think of a specific incident where a guy refused a trade or anything like that, but I imagine there have been free agents in all sports who’ve taken teams off lists of possibilities because of some personal issues with either players or management there. Trouble is, if that happens, it seldom becomes public knowledge. And I think it might have been more prevalent in the past when players did develop a distaste of opponents, there’s far too much “kinship” in a lot of pro sports for my tastes today but that’s just the way it is.
I will give you a couple, although they don’t meet your criteria of multiple playoff matchups, and don’t include the pucks because I’m not as familiar with the recent history or player movement.
But there was something to watching Roger Clemens as he flitted from one team to the next deal with the teams he had left. Think of him as a Yankee or with the Red Sox facing the other, that was pretty special in the context of that rivalry.
Oh, and Kobe and Shaq may have only played each other a couple of times in a regular season after they had won multiple championships together but there’s no denying there was an edge to those games.
Q: Hey Doug. Last summer there was a lot of hype surrounding Sonny Weems (perhaps more than Derozan). He had had a breakthrough season of sorts, and showed a lot of potential. Moreover, with the SF spot up for grabs, last year should've been a big year for him. Do you think fans just got too hyped up about him, or did he genuinely regress this year. If so, why?
Thanks again for keeping us Raps fans going through the lockout.
Jeremy S, Toronto
A: I think the fans absolutely got too hyped, he was a pretty good rotation player on a pretty bad team; a bit part, but we do love our bit parts around here.
And he regressed in the respect that he got a wee bit self-absorbed, I think. Imagined himself with more skills and a greater role than he maybe should have.
Q: Hi Doug. I was reading the latest on the NBA's proposal to the players … one item stood out for me:
There was proposal to raise the age limit for the draft to 20 from 19 by the owners.
Having seen a lot of young players come into the league, what are your thoughts on this proposal? Would it be better for a young player to spend two years in college or overseas in a pro league or is this simply the owners trying to cut back another year of salary for a rookie and getting the colleges/overseas pro leagues to do more of the ground work in preparing a young player for a professional career.
Thank you, Doug.
Joe D, Mississauga
A: I’ve never had a problem with the idea of them raising the age limit, I think there are far too many kids who aren’t ready to handle the trappings of the NBA, the money, the fame, the work needed to succeed who’d benefit from another year or two of maturity. For every Kobe, LeBron, Garnett, there are more failures of either high schoolers or one-and-done college kids to validate my point.
And before anyone goes all “they can’t deny these kids a chance to make a living” on me, it’s a bogus point. Kids who are 18, 19, even 20 have all kinds of opportunities to play basketball professionally and make a living, if they like and can handle it. As you mentioned, there’s Europe, the D League and a handful of other minor pro leagues where they can make money if school’s not their thing.
Q: Rumours from the CBA offer states that "The minimum team salary would be 85 percent of the salary cap in the first two years and increase to 90 percent in the third year of the new collective bargaining agreement. This figure was 70 percent under the last CBA."
Does this mean that every team must spend 90 percent of the salary cap on salaries? For example if the salary cap was 100 million every team would have to spend at least $90 million on salaries and couldn't keep salaries down to free up salary cap space for a super free agent?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: If that is indeed part of any final new CBA – and I believe it will be – that’s precisely what it means. Teams would be forced to add some payroll to meet a “floor” of a new salary cap.
Q: Hi Doug. I keep hearing how the small market teams will not be losing money even if games are not played. I'm assuming that gate receipts are such a small factor in the NBA money pile that this is an acceptable loss for most teams. Can you shed some light on this for most teams in general and specifically for the DNP Heroes of the Hardcourt?
Kevin M, Maple
A: I caution you not to believe everything you read about the financial shenanigans of pro sports teams. But, there is this to consider: Sometimes the income from games – tickets, concessions, etc. – don’t add up to the total outlay in various salaries and other expenses so, with TV money still coming in at some point, it could very well be less financially troublesome for owners. It isn’t, of course, to arena workers and the others the owners don’t care about.
Now, for the Raptors specifically, their financial picture is so clouded in the morass of privately-held MLSE it’s impossible to determine where they sit on the spectrum. Sorry.