The start of the weekend mail
Yeah, I know.
A little bit later than usual and not quite as big a mailbag as we’ve ever had. There was a night of remembering and storytelling and time kind of got away from me.
But there are all kinds of questions left over so I’ll have something to do while killing time in picturesque Troy, Michigan, tonight. If you want to add to the pile, do it here.
Q: Doug: We await your preview of NBA playoffs. Please add something from the heart: Who, in your mind, is there to admire because it is a team with "heart"; maybe not a top ranked team; a team that has overcome difficulties? Can we think of Nash if Suns make it? Nuggets with a coach with cancer? San Antonio's oldsters and unique way of playing? With whom might we affiliate and why?
Charles N, Toronto
A: I’m all about the old guys so I really would like Phoenix to make it, not just for Nash but for Grant Hill as well; and I think Alvin Gentry’s done an excellent job. But if they don’t, I have an affinity for San Antonio because I admire their coach and the way they play (and Matt Bonner, too). However, I can’t quite warm up to the Celtics, even if they are a last-gasp group, as well.
Q: Jeremy Lin certainly deserves in the Time most influential list. His impact may be transient in North America, but I think you'll need step out of the shell if you don't think his name is well known globally.
As a Canadian in living in Australia, I can say with confidence that the majority of the population will draw a blank when you mention Kevin Durant, Dwayne Wade, and Derrick Rose, but almost everybody will have heard of Jeremy Lin.
And that one country you're dismissing (China) represents 1/5 of everyone on this planet!
Derrick W, Melbourne
A: I’m not dismissing anyone and I never suggested his name wasn’t known globally; of course it is. But “influential?” In what tangible regard is Jeremy Lin “influential?” He was a pretty good player and a very good story for a few weeks on what was, at that point, an entirely average basketball team in a bad NBA conference.
There is a wide chasm between influence and fame, in my opinion.
Q: Hi Doug! Remington, Selectra, Royal, Olivetti, IBM, Smith-Corona (Hey! There's a fine combination of names!) and Underwood. How many of these have you used? Over the years, I'll bet quite a few. And do you still have one somewhere? Apparently the typewriter is antiquated enough to now be considered 'quaint' and there are even clubs now that offer 'Type-Ins' (sort of like the Love-Ins we used to have in the Sixties but without the brownies...perhaps!) where people meet up, typewriters in tow - if not custom-fitted cases and they sit together - and type! And in the true spirit of those Sixties things, you can even try someone else's for awhile. And collecting typewriters is becoming more and more popular. Especially typewriters that used to belong to famous people. Now, if I could, I think it would be very cool to hit the same keys that Agatha Christie did, or - be still my martini - Dorothy Parker. How about you? Whose typewriter would you find intriguing to sit in front of, return that carriage and replace that ribbon? Thanks!
Lorie P, London
A: Jim Murray, the late, great L.A. Times columnist would be right near the top of that list, along with an olden days young reporter at the paper where I work:
Dude by the name of Hemingway.
Q: Hi Doug. True story. I have a whole bunch of bush behind my house, and in the trees is a nest of Turkey Vultures. My cousin was visiting me a little while ago, and I pointed them out to him, and also commented on what beautiful birds they are, and how graceful they are in flight. My cousin got a funny look on his face, and acted odd for a little bit, and it finally came out that he hadn't heard "vultures" after I said turkey, and he thought I thought turkey's could fly. Which of course, reminds one of what is, in my opinion, the single funniest scene in the history of sitcom television:
So, what in your opinion, is the single funniest scene in the history of sitcom television? Do you have time for a list of five? (If you do a list of five, and the turkey drop isn't on it, someone should question your sense of humour!)
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: As I’ve said here often that’s the single greatest line uttered in sitcom history.
We might have done this before but here are a couple that come quickly to mind; and it’s entirely by memory:
Ed Norton: Ralph, do you mind if I smoke?
Ralph Kramden: I don’t care if you burn.
How about Norm from Cheers.
Sam Malone: What’s the story, Norm?
Norm Peterson: Boy meets beer. Boy drinks beer. Boy gets another beer. In this performance, the role of the boy will be played by Norm Peterson.
What’s everyone else got?
Q: Doug, I've been quite impressed with DD's play the second half of this manic season. He has shown skill and guts in driving to the hoop, and seems to have become an accomplished mid range shooter. Now making for a moment the big assumption that Brian shares this opinion, does it change what he will want at the other wing position? Eg would he want more of defensive stopper with three-point proficiency to balance Demar, or would he settle for a DD-like player as long as the overall skill is there?
Gary M, Ottawa
A: I’ve always thought they’d look for a wing with good defensive skills first and nothing’s changed as the season has unfolded. They do like DeMar’s shooting game and the way he doesn’t always settle any more but they really, really need him to work on his ball-handling skills so he can at least try to take his man off the dribble.
But as for the other wing, defence was, and is, the first consideration.
Q: Doug, my condolences on your loss of a coworker who seemed like an incredible guy.
Given your opportunity to spend time with him at amateur sporting events, and having covered lots of Olympics, can you give us a top five list of your personal favourite amateur athletes?
Richard Y, Kincardine
A: A total personal list pulled right off the top of my head, and realizing I’ve done five Summer Games and only one Winter Olympics, and keeping it to Canada, I’ve got:
Clara Hughes, wrote about her in Atlanta on her first medal
Mike Strange, we Niagara Falls guys have to stick together, right?
Lauren Bay, the softball pitcher who was outstanding
Adam Van Kouvderden, he seemed to have all his priorities straight.
Steve Nash, yeah, I know, easy one and only one Games but what a Games it was.
Q: Hi Doug. I've always wondered...How much thought is put into the selection of a second round draft pick?
I saw a recent show about the 2011 draft where Colangelo had a strong conviction to pick JV, but in the second round, his choice appeared to be an after thought.
Am I imagining things? Or is it true, and most GMs just pick by position and hope for the best?
Gary D, Stouffville
A: Not sure “afterthought” is the right description but it’s true all over the league that more attention is paid to first-round picks because there is a far more significant financial obligation to them than second-rounders.
But a lot of scouting that goes in during the winter – and at things like the Portsmouth college camp that just finished and through various trips to Europe – is done with getting an idea of the skill levels of guys who might wind up as second-round possibilities.
When the scouts hit the road in the winter, they’re not just looking at first-round picks, they are putting together dossiers on second-rounders, too.
Q: Hey Doug: I meant to send this after your blog that Bryan should attempt to sign free agent Steve Nash. I was reminded to send it in when I read - I believe in the Mail Bag - someone comparing Jose to Steve.
Assuming we were able to get Nash, and Jose became the 'second unit' PG, that would mean that both units would be led by 'facilitators.'
Is that what a team wants? Or, is it better to have a facilitator (Jose) on one unit, and a Brazilian Blur on the other unit?
Or, is it not important to have the second unit look 'different' from the first?
Tim H, Windsor
A: That is an interesting point; some coaches really want some kind of different tempo from a second unit, I’m not sure that’s high in Dwane’s list of priorities so I imagine he’d be okay with it.
But I do see the reasoning that you’d want a different style from your backup; I’d be fine with Steve and Jose, others might not be.
Q: If there is a 3 or 4 way tie for the worst records in the league,(it looks possible for positions 5 through 8) is there some sort of tie breaker for draft positions or are the percentages for the tied team just averaged out of the tied positions?
Jeff M, Saint John
A: They just “average” out the chances and if there’s an odd number, they have a draw for the extra choice.
Q: So sad to hear of Randy Starkman's passing. As a big fan of alpine racing it was always a pleasant surprise to find one of his columns on the new wave of Canadian racers on the circuit. Do you know if the tall foreheads have any plans for some kind of tribute to him this summer during the Olympics? A blog of what Randy would have liked, or thoughts from the reporters who are being assigned his beats, comments from the athletes? Anything? I've found it really interesting reading all of the tributes coming out from reporters and athletes alike and think it would be fascinating to read about the Summer Games from the perspective of those who knew him. Maybe the wound is too raw right now to think about it but it would certainly be a different take on the Olympics than the standard fare.
Ken M, Toronto
A: I’m sure someone will do something in London to honour his memory; nothing is firmed up at the moment but I know a lot of people are trying to figure out just what a proper tribute will be.
And it will draw writers and athletes from around the world, I’m sure.
Q: I was just wondering about our old friend Glen Grunwald. In my opinion, he's the best GM the Raptors have had. At the very least, he took the club farther than anyone else has. Anyway, I believe he still has the title of "Interim GM" at the Knicks. With the addition of Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak and JR Smith, I'd at least consider him for Executive of the Year. Would he be eligible though he's not the permanent guy? Has this happened before where an interim GM or coach has won?
Vincent L, Toronto
A: No, it’s not interim and while the Knicks have been intriguing I cannot foresee any possibility that anyone who “built” a team that got all the way to seventh in the East with what appears to be an abundance of talent would get any consideration for Executive of the Year. Especially when that executive and executive team had to admit making a mistake by having to fire a coach in the middle of the year.
Q: Doug, this is partially a draft question but it's mostly a culture question. Assume for the sake of argument that on draft day the Raps can choose between two candidates: one who's uber-talented but with unproven motivation (note I said "unproven", not "proven to be unmotivated") or one who's uber-motivated but with limited upside. Is the Raptors' culture change, and Dwane Casey's presence, now sufficiently ingrained that they could draft the guy with the upside and count on Casey and this season's holdovers to bang his head against the rock (metaphorically) if he dogs it? Or do they still need to focus on players who are unquestionably Casey-style guys?
Mike D, Toronto
A: The one attribute Casey values more than any, at least that’s what I get from a series of conversations is “motor” (and I truly hate to use that word). So I would imagine his first choice would be motivated; and I’m sure he’d make that known to Bryan. Whether Bryan listens or not can’t be known.
Q: Doug, perhaps it is just me or does Alan Anderson remind you of Anthony Parker too? Good player in college - drafted and sticks around for a couple years and then heads overseas to refine the game (including same team in Maccabi). Maybe it's just me but the similarities are undeniable.
Jeff S, Ajax
A: Yeah, the stories are quite similar in a lot of regards, aren’t they? Not sure that Anderson’s going to play another five or six years in the league but at this point, their paths have been quite parallel.