Movie clips, sports logos and a chat with Obama. What a mailbag
You may have out-done yourselves this week.
Q: Hello Doug! Well, it's on. The "Obama Classic Basketball Game" on December 12th. Venue to be determined, but you'd best start saving now because at $5000 for a courtside seat (and all proceeds from ticket sales go to ensure Barack (The Basketball-Fan-In-Chief is re-elected), it's an expensive night out. And do you think the beer served there might be even more expensive than the $12.83 for a 28-oz glass that's charged at the ACC? Well it's all for a good (Democrat) cause and the only disappointment might if The President doesn't take to the floor. Apparently the Secret Service are concerned for his well being after, in a previous game, a member of the media elbowed him in the face. (Must've been one of those right-wing scribes.)
Anyway, do you think Barack may be quietly called upon to act as Mediator-Facilitator-Get-'Em-Talking person in this NBA mess? I mean, he has some experience and street cred: the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples" might help broker a deal as they say. So Doug, as boss of the PBWA, could you sort of - Prez to Prez - make something happen here?
Lorie P, London
A: Funny you should ask.
I call him up the other day and it’s like:
“Hey, B. It’s me, Doug. Look, I got like 200 under-employed members of our constituency and I hear you’ve got this whole unemployment thing going on down there. Why don’t you and I have a little chinwag and get this thing worked out? We’re pretty bright guys, we can kick around some ideas. Look what we did with that Wall Street thing.”
He says, and this is verbatim:
“Yo, Doug. What’s up? How’s my favourite Grunt? Loved the bit about Super Dog and the knee, lucky you’ve got that health care thing going on up there, wish I could get these knuckleheads down here … ah, never mind. Look, Michelle’s got some ribeyes and I think there are a few Yeunglings in the fridge, why don’t you stop by some night and we’ll have some dinner and talk. Been way too long. Oh, and what do you think of that of that whole Greece-Italy-Euro economy thing? Love to get your take on that. Anyway, dude, let me know when you’re around.”
That Barack, what guy.
Q: So Doug, we're all aware that the lack of hoops has caused you to cast your net all over the place to fill your blog, which we appreciate. If the whole season gets wiped out, you might however find yourself covering ice fishing and the return of migratory birds.
So, in an ideal world, let's say you can travel to cover anything, be it sports, entertainment, politics or adult beverage conventions. Think of it as a bucket list of blog coverage. Would we find you on the red carpet at the Oscars? On a balcony writing about the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona? Enjoying a cocktail while covering the Hemingway look-alike contest in Florida? Do tell.
Jonathan M, Tokyo
A: Given my absolute druthers, I’d find a way to cover world championships in any number of sports, actually. The intensity and importance is second-to-none to the athletes and they are always filled with passion and great stories.
Oh, and the EuroLeague finals, soccer’s European championships would be on the list.
So, too, would be: “Hey, Doug, go find the five best pubs in Britain and Ireland, please.” Actually, that might be the top of the list.
Oh, and I want nothing whatsoever to do with entertainment, it is filled with so many vacuous, self-indulgent egomaniacs with a high level of phoniness that I might kill someone. Or spend entire interviews rolling my eyes and chuckling.
If I had to pick one thing outside of sports, it’d be some humanitarian effort done on the QT to bring important stories to light.
But that pubs thing sounds best, doesn’t it?
Q: Okay, pick a fictional lawyer for each side...
Perry Mason for the owners, or Perry Masonite) versus Matlock for the players?
Who wins? Is it the roommate's fault?
Also, how could Hamilton Berger keep his job with one win in twelve years.?
Bob E, Kanata
A: I’ve got to pit Denny Crane against Christine Simpson, no?
(Okay, that’s got more to do with Markie Post than anything but you let me have my pick).
If this guy’s not the judge, I guess we could settle for Flip Wilson, or Wapner if he’s still on the bench. I can’t stomach any of those other TV judges, I’m afraid.
(After all, they are relative yutes we’re dealing with, right?)
Q: I know the NBA owners own the franchises, and the Players own their skills, but I wonder if has occurred to them that they don't own basketball. Sure there are all kinds of other hoops to watch (Go Lightning) but it isn't the game played at it's highest form with the best vs the best on the grandest stage. Having held the purest game hostage for this long as they pout over how they divide up our money. Last lockout ended with a "sorry bout that" a few free exhibition games of out of shape, embittered bench players and a few soulless autograph sessions from a few of the team's faces as a buy out for hijacking the game and then expecting to be fed by the hand they had been biting for months. Doug how does the NBA bounce back from so much ill will on every facet?
Rob N, London
A: I’m kind of anxious to see what they do because the impression I’m getting – tainted by the passage of time since ’99 of course – is that it will be exponentially harder to woo back casual fans already being killed by the difficult economic times in which we live.
I would suggest a lot of reduced – if not free – tickets but not sure there’s an appetite for that.
But they will find a way to grovel, no doubt; and fans will, eventually, accept the abject apologies, I would imagine.
Q: Greetings, an actual basketball question, at least about the business of basketball. So if/when/they have the player's union decertifies I am thinking that somewhere there are offices, employees and assets that are a direct result of the administration needs of that same union. Assuming this is so, what happens to all that stuff? I would also think that a "decertification" that really is in name only wouldn't swim well with the resulting legal battles. Secondarily, if I'm a NBA player once the union ceases to exist I may be somewhat panicked in regards to my agent's ability to be effective in protecting my own needs and desires. Thirdly, not being entirely trusting of things that live off of my earnings (Super family excepted, of course) I may have serious reservations about my agent's motives and aspirations. Anyhow mostly curious on the potential impact of another group of people caught in the crossfire.
Thanks, as always for what you do.
Doug T, Brantford
A: I would assume – and I only know this anecdotally – that the support staff, various counsel and employees of what was the NBAPA would assume similar roles in what’s now the NBA players trade association, at least until the legal morass plays out.
And, yes, if I were a player I’d be very trusting in the men who made the decision to disclaim interest without, I’m sure, due consideration or consultation.
As for the agents? I truly believe they are the tail that’s wagging the dog too much in this whole mess; they are, in some ways, too self-serving and more concerned with their own skins than the ripple effect on the people they ostensibly work for.
Q: Doug, long time reader. I’m glad you like Bob Marley, and not to be a nerd, but the song is called "3 little birds", and while it does make everything all right, I am truly sad that Raptors fans are being reduced to watching X Factor instead of ballgames.
Wes M, Guelph
A: Huge Marley fan, have been for a very long time. Did know the correct name of the tune but didn’t want to cloud the issue.
And I guess we all need to watch something; when I first heard of X Factor, I had it mixed up with the old Fear Factor, my TV watching needs tuning up. Although a friend who actually watched that X Factor episode tells me it was good.
But, just because …
Q: Dear Doug. Since you brought up the Twilight/Forks reference, I had to give you my story. Two years ago, my wife, my niece and I went on a Western Canada road/train trip (Van City, Edmonton, Calgary) and because my wife and niece were Twi-Hards and it was my wife's birthday, I decided we would drive the rental car all the way down to Forks. If you think Seattle was a long trip, let me tell you. We left Langley, B.C. at 5 in the morning to get to the earliest ferry to some weird outpost in Washington State, to drive that long and winding road, which was under construction so delayed us 2 hours, to miss our tour, to have a crappy lunch at the Twilight diner, to do our own tour, get gas and rush back for the 75 hour drive to get a ferry back to Vancouver Island and then Van City. All told, for about 3 hours in Forks, we travelled about 19 hours. Got points I am still using now.
Onto my question. What are your top 5 favourite NBA jerseys and also MLB jerseys?
Paul S, Pickering
A: Now, that’s some Forks saga. I feel your pain.
On baseball, it has to start with the glove-ball, M-B of the Brewers with the Tigers, Cardinals, Orioles and since I can’t in good conscience include the old Expos, I’m going to round it out with the Astros. Or maybe the Dodgers.
I’ve got Bulls, Bucks, Celtics, Rockets and, oh, I dunno, maybe the Suns?
At least that’s the mood right now.
Q: Doug in a lockout, if a player is officially injured prior to the lockout (eg Linus Kleiza ) do they still get paid?
Mike K, London
A: No, not only don’t they get paid, they have to incur any rehab, medical and treatment costs as they try to get better.
Most would have not only private insurance through the union but will also have the wherewithal to handle the cost, you’d think.
Q: I read the Star online with my iPad and quite like the new reader that just appeared - very 21st century. A question, is your blog there and I am not finding it or ?? I found the blog using Google at the regular website but it would be nice to have it on the Reader (one stop shopping so to speak)__One other question, I have read your blog while travelling in many countries from Ecuador to Oz. Tried to get it Beijing during the Olympics but it was blocked - I guess you are too subversive for some tastes.
Question is, how many countries have you received questions from - seem like quite a few?
Bruce C, Brisbane
A: Funny thing about Beijing. When I was there at the Olympics, I could write and post the blog but couldn’t read it; the internet access to our site was blocked. Guess, as you say, my subversive tendencies caught their eye.
Now, as for the countries, I’ve never really counted by I would suspect we’re in the high teens at least. There are Irregulars I can think of from Britain, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, of course the United States and I’m sure I’ve seen Croatia, Serbia, Ghana and France. Be an interesting thing to track some week or month, I guess.
Q: Doug, could you give us your critique of "the system issues". The proposal by the NBA seemed like a reasoned response to limit the powers/tricks available to agents.
I could envision the scenario that for current players under contract BRI is much more important than the systems issues. The agents on the other hand would be more concerned with the system issues as it curtails their infuence. What about the owners.. BRI vs system where is their main focus? Which is more negotiable?
Jim S, Whitby
A: I think the owners would have ultimately been concerned with “system” issues like length of contracts, how much of them were going to be guaranteed, tax thresholds and the like, rather than the vagaries of a year-to-year revenue split.
And I have no issues whatsoever with shorter term, less-guaranteed deals with smaller annual salary increases, I just think the owners tried to get too much too quickly.
Q: Good Afternoon Doug. I can't say I am never going to watch another NBA game again (although I did not attend a single Raptor game last season and I did have season's tickets for three seasons so most would classify me a big fan) because I will. I love the sport, the competition and the beauty when well played at the highest level just far too much to ever stop watching games.
However the arrogance of David Stern is really getting to me this time around. While I admit in the past I have kind of laughed off his bravado and cockiness and rather enjoy listening to him at times....well this time it is different.
For him to say with a straight face that they have made many concessions to the players while all they have done is start off wanting to give the players a 10% etc. haircut of BRI and they trim it back to 7%, coupled with significant changes in mid level exceptions and length of contract etc. is patently false.
My question to you, and I realized you are not a judge or lawyer, but could any court really say the NBA has collectively bargained in good faith, in your opinion? And what do you make of Sir David's ego.....seems kind of "player like" to me.
Mike D, Cambridge
A: Sure, it could. Very easily. Yes, the owners asked for all kinds of give-backs – too many in one fell swoop, if you ask me – but they did talk. And were met with resistance – remember Billy saying, I believe, BRI was a “blood issue”? – all in the course of very contentious and difficult negotiations.
As for the “ego” involved, sure, David has a very big one, as do the players, as do all the owners. It’s part of what makes them what they are and clashes are inevitable.
I make of David what I’ve made of him all along, a very strong-willed, at-times obstinate leader who has made oodles of money for oodles of people and turned the NBA from a relative afterthought (no Finals games on live network TV) to a spectacularly successful global business.
Q: Doug. To the best of my recollection, most of the pro sports CBA signings over the last two decades have been pronounced wins for the owners at the time of the signing. And all of the contracts have been eventually won by players. For example, the last NHL agreement following nuclear winter was an easy win for the owners, a virtual stomping of the players. And now, only a handful of years later, the salary FLOOR is multi million dollars more than what was the cap during the first year of the agreement.
The reason of course, is that after every agreement, every team then lets loose its lawyers and nitpickers to find loopholes to circumvent the very agreement their owners just signed. And the players benefit. Every time.
I know you aren't taking sides in the NBA follies, but doesn't history say the players should have signed the last offer and then let nature take its course?
Gary M, Brampton
A: I think they probably should have, yes. You’re right about what generally happens – players seemingly drilled in new CBAs yet salaries continue to skyrocket – and while there’s not certainty that would have happened this time around, history suggests everyone would have eventually made out just fine under whatever system developed.
Q: I have no doubt that it was an idle threat, but Mr. Stern did mention contraction when the players turned down the NBA's CBA offer. I believe he actually mentioned there could be 2 teams.
Theoretically, other than New Orleans, who else might be on the list?
Jim S, Thornhill
A: Not sure it was so idle but it’s certainly not something that’s going to happen right away, I don’t imagine.
But if it did, I wouldn’t want to be a devout fan of, say, Sacramento or maybe even Milwaukee; both have arena issues (Sacramento far worse than Milwaukee) and are small markets with support that wavers when the team’s not going well.
Other than that, not sure I can come up with any although if I had to round it out to four, I’d give you Memphis and maybe Charlotte.
Q: Doug...loved the Macon Whoopee reference but wanted to set the record straight historically having been the Associate Head Coach from our expansion year of 1996-97 through 1999-2000.
The Macon Whoopees played in the old Southern league and lasted only half a season during the early 1970's.
The recreated Central Hockey Version were the Macon Whoopee, not Whoopees. The logo used by the Star was the second logo, the one we called the angry chicken because those of us who were originals loved the original, a blue fig leaf with Macon Whoopee inside it.
A couple of great stories about the two logos. The fig leaf always endeared itself as the fig tree was indigenous to Central Georgia. The other thing we loved was the fig leaf in reference to the Garden of Eden and the Makin' Whoopee.
The new logo, a whooping crane, was born to add a sense of intimidation to the logo. My contribution to that, despite hating the logo, was to add the bumble bee (in reference to the birds and the bees and the connotation of "makin' whoopee".
It was a fun organization to be part of from the day it started.
Here is a good local note--The Whoopee and the Maple Leafs have a unique connection. Graeme Townshend (skating coach), Gord Dineen (Marlies assistant), and myself (part time amateur scout) were at one time head coaches or associate head coaches with Macon. Interesting Macon to Maple Leaf pipeline...the other unique part of that were our uni's and original logo made us look like the Leafs...mostly blue and white with a hint of green (symbolic of the color of a leaf).
Dave S, Long Island
A: Now that’s a heck of a story. I know there’s no question but I bet the Irregulars get a hoot out of it.
Q: Doug, I seem to recall reading something about this subject during the summer. Since the union disbanded (I believe it was Ringo's fault), where does that leave player's contracts? Is there a possibility that when a judge rules on the lawsuits that all players contracts will be null and void?
Danny H, Fredericton
A: The league indeed believes that could very well be the case; it is not an opinion shared by the trade association. It will be a matter, ultimately, for the courts to determine if we get to that point. We, thankfully, are nowhere close yet.