A day that should resonate everywhere
A bit personal here and not a lot of basketball because there wasn’t a lot of basketball yesterday, I hope you don’t mind.
It is perhaps because I’ve spent a lot of time around Wayne Embry, Sam Mitchell and Alex English – three men who provide a context and perspective to history that I cannot truly comprehend – that this day resonates with me.
It is, of course, Martin Luther King Day and while it may not have the importance back home that it does down here, it is one of those days that should cause all of us to sit back and think.
What can we do to make this world, or at least our little corner of it, better? How can we live our lives so that others see compassion and caring and a sense of fairness and equality that will allow all others to live in peace as well?
It doesn’t just go to black and white these days, at least not where we’re from. The lessons preached by Dr. King back in the day can now be applied to the way we deal with all people of all different races, yellow, brown, black; everyone. We need to understand each other, whether it’s here in Atlanta or in Brampton or in Markham or in Vancouver. We need to live in peace and with respect for each other and in some kind of harmony.
This is not to diminish Dr. King’s efforts to correct unspeakable wrongs of a bygone era, nor is it to remotely suggest that his work is done and things are as they should be because they most definitely are not. There are still subtle signs of racism in our world that may not be as violent or disgusting as what occurred in the past but they are there and I am sure they hurt.
My life, as you well know, involves almost constant interaction with African-American men and women of all ages and backgrounds, young athletes, older coaches, oldtimers who lived through times more difficult than we can understand
Wayne (and you should read this old story I did one time; it’s among those I’m most proud to have written) and Alex and Sam have educated me about the struggles and the impact they had on them as youngsters. They, and others, also know there is work still to be done and they are trying to make sure the youngsters in their charge understand that.
They also have tried to make those kids understand how far they have come, how truly despicable things were in the past and how much men like Dr. King gave of themselves so that young men of this era can enjoy the creature comforts of life that they do.
What Dr. King and those who were with him did was simply to change the world. They suffered, gave their lives, so that others would benefit; they had to know what they were going to sacrifice yet they soldiered on simply to carve out a better existence for future generations they would never get to see.
The true end of their work would come after they were gone from this earth and they still did it.
Someone asked the other day what the good things about my job are and I gave a nice answer about seeing cool things and not having the “sameness” to days that make them boring.
But you know what?
The best thing about this job is the interesting people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve heard about, the perspective I’ve been able to glean.
The very, very best part of this gig is the people I’ve met and how they’ve enriched my life and today – a very significant day for men I consider friends – I realize the best part of my job is I can say I know people like Wayne and Sam and Alex and I thank them for making my life better.
So, you saw this about Casey and the turnovers and how the Raptors are rather awful at giving up possessions, right?
Well, more than the lack of production at small forward or the gaping hole in the offence that the absence of Bargnani creates, it is the single biggest problem facing this team.
I, and any coach, can live with the odd bad pass, it’s going to happen; even those head-scratching length-of-the-court mistakes that end up in the fourth row are, well, part of the game.
But not setting good screens, dribbling the ball off your foot, committing an offensive foul because you’re way out of control on a drive are, to me, the worst kind.
And these guys might lead the league in them.
Look at it this way: They have a starting point guard who is among the most careful guys with the ball in the game, Jose turns it over fewer than two times a game despite his big minutes, and still as a group they’re among the worst turnover teams in the league?
That has to be the one area that needs cleaning up more than any other and until it gets better, this team won’t.
We mentioned about checking in to find a Bridal Fair here in Atlanta – never saw so many zombie-ish young men being led around by the ears – and it’s the first convention-like thing I’ve seen on the road this season. But over the years …
The thing in LA
It was like Comic-Con Lite one weekend at the LAX Marriott, a whole bunch of relatively geeky young ‘uns in goofy costumes of their own making wandering the halls, lobby and lounges.
Since I have absolutely neither interest in nor knowledge of sci-fi or any of that stuff, it was, um, rather overwhelming. And if Super Son ever gets into it …
A whole lot of ink
I want to say it was in Phoenix but it might have been somewhere in Texas but the weekend we rolled up to the hotel to find the convention of tattoo artists – and the subjects of their art – made for some interesting people watching indeed.
I remember sitting in a lobby somewhere – could have been Charlotte, or maybe Memphis – listening to four or five tables of people at a teachers convention ripping on their students, their bosses, their pay and their duties.
And I stopped wondering why some of America’s public school system is, um, lacking.
Oh, and there was the time – for a much younger, different breed of grunt – when we ran into the convention of student nurses in Philly. The kids had fun.
How good were the Golden Globes?
Yeah, the post-football evening (and Suns-Spurs was a bore for the most part) there was an awful lot of time spent watching them and they seemed to me to be the kind of awards thing I’d go to.
Fun? There were bottles on the table.
Relaxed? There was hooting and hollering when winners were announced.
The Oscars? Way too stuffy and self-important; I now have a new favourite awards show.