Ready to go again?
Ready to go again?
Let’s say you run a multi-billion dollar business that’s growing every day; your brand is recognizable at all four corners of the Earth; your products make money for you and themselves hand over fist.
Of course you’re going to jeopardize it by trying to pull off some gigantic conspiracy.
Why not risk losing it all, hoping that whoever’s in the Circle Of Knowledge won’t talk and the secret will go to several graves with those who hold it.
Come on, people.
Give your heads a shake, would you?
The basketball world – especially the dark corners where the conspiracy theorists live – has been abuzz with all kinds of zaniness following the New Orleans win in Wednesday’s lottery (some of have mocked them already) and it’s kind of out of control.
Comical. But out of control nonetheless.
Look, as I mentioned this morning, I’ve been in the room when the lottery’s been conducted. Seen the ping-pongs balls taken out of their locked cases and dumped in the drums, watched them pop up, seen the stifling security that goes along with it. It’s not “fixable” and it can’t be “rigged.” It is, frankly, what it is.
And here’s a first-hand account of last night you might want to read.
While all that was transpiring in a room a floor removed from the TV studio where the show came from, I was standing in the back of that studio minding my own business and joking with some colleagues.
All of a sudden a back door opens, a couple of rather burly, imposing fellows wearing earpieces walked by flanking a very studious man carrying the envelopes. They were place on the podium, everyone was watching, the security dudes were still hanging around and I don’t recall seeing David Copperfield magically levitating New Orleans to No. 1.
I once heard David Stern suggest, in response to some question about the rigging of the lottery, suggest his league wasn’t in the business of committing felonies.
Makes entire sense to me.
Look, it doesn’t matter what I say or what other people write or what the league does. There are those among you who will think forever that some grand conspiracy is constantly at work, that things are pre-ordained because it’s easy to think that.
Forget for a minute that you’ve had to count on the continued silence of who knows how many people to rig something like the lottery – and a good conspiracy needs a very small circle and the more in it, the easier it’s broken – think about that risk.
You want to put the entire global basketball world at risk so that one team can get one specific player?
Besides, if it worked, how come the Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t win multiple championships after getting LeBron? How’d the whole Patrick-Ewing-to-New-York thing work out in the winning of championships?
If these have been rigged, they’ve been awfully poorly executed, haven’t they?
I had more than a few people who asked this morning why the league doesn’t just run the lottery where all can see it.
Well, there are a few reasons, actually.
First, it takes about 90 seconds to actually conduct it and what do you do with the other 28:30 of the half hour TV show?
Second, it’s boring. I mean mind-numbing boring; it’s not like Faye Dance could take you through the little burgs where it’s being held telling folksy Wintario tales.
And third – and most important – is this:
What would the conspiracy theorists have to talk about when it was over?
Have a nice day.
No big surprise, really, in the lottery and, sure, it’s nice that the HOTH didn’t move back but they got what they deserved and pretty much was expected.
Now the pressure’s on.
As you know, I’m all about trading out of No. 8 even it means using the pick to sweeten the pot in a deal into the abundant cap space – no, I don’t have specific names – but it seems Bryan’s not entirely sold on that idea, as he told us last night.
So that means an awful lot of homework and a group of probably eight or 10 to pick from, and that’s where due diligence comes in.
How’d Bryan put it?
“We look hard at the analytics, we look hard at the background, we look hard at the performance evaluation … background and character, as you know, mean a lot to me and the organization, it’s part of the culture we’re establishing … it all factors in.
“If you can find the right combination of things and it happens to fit your need, that’s even better but if it means that you take a player that duplicates some of what you have, we’re at a position where we need to acquire the best possible assets because assets equal opportunity at points.”
Clear as mud, right?
Now, you’re going to be hearing an awful lot of names associated with the No. 8 pick and some of them are even going to be real. I had very little time to talk to anyone from the Raptors or the league privately last night – that’s work to be done in the next fortnight or so – but if you’re looking at a group of five we’ll have a little photo gallery up around here early this morning and you can likely toss another five or six names into the pot.
But there’s no doubt, despite Bryan’s assertion that they take the best player available, they need someone who can score a bit, defend and play the wing. They are woefully under-manned at both the two and three right now – they could probably use a backup point guard – and that would seem to be the strength of the group that’ll be there at No. 8.
Going to make for some interesting times, indeed. Last time they were in this spot was the DeRozan year but there wasn’t nearly the movement to trade that pick as there should be with this one; buckle up, kids, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
So I’m going to OKC today and when I tell a friend I’m going, I hear something like:
Oh, The Flaming Lips!
Seems it’s a musical group.
Ever hear of them?
How good was that?
How good was that?
The league hasn’t even sold the team officially and there’s old Tom Benson saddling up to the stage to take the No. 1 draft pick on behalf of the New Orleans Hornets after last night’s lottery and, I tell you, I can almost hear the conversation from a month ago now:
“Tom? David Stern. Want to take the Hornets off our hands?”
“Love to, David but have you seen that team? Screwed on the Chris Paul trade, Erik Gordon may leave, fans hate you, the team doesn’t draw flies. Nah.”
“Hmm. I see your point. What if we sweeten the deal a little bit.”
“Ever hear of Anthony Davis? How about him and another top 10 pick? You cool with buying then? We just came out of a lockout, we’ve been laying off staff forever, I need some help.”
“David? I don’t know. What else have you got?”
“How about we give you an all-star game, too?”
“Done. Now it’s up to you to make it look all plausible.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. I’ve been fooling ‘em since the Patrick Ewing dry ice night. This is a piece of cake.”
“Ok, David. You’ve got a deal.”
“Great. Gotta run, have to call Prokhorov and break some bad news to him. See you later.”
But – and I really can’t say this firmly enough – I’ve been in the room and seen how the draw’s conducted. It is so far above board it’s not even funny; no way any of those conspiracy theories are legit but, you have to admit, it’s pretty cool, no?
All we need is Jim Garrison now.
(Anyone get that?)
So, off to OKC while you’re reading this (the “you can’t get there from here goes from LaGuardia to O’Hare at 6:30 a.m., quick turnaround and then to Will Rogers by noon their time) so will get to comments when I can.
And if you’re bored, send me some mail; I’d love to land and see all kinds of fun notes before I have to go to the game.
Oh, and we’ll give an IGBT a shot tonight, okay? It’s a 9 p.m. start.
Ran into one of the all-time greats last night – Jim O’Connell of the Associated Press, haven’t seen him forever – and he’s in rare form.
We’re standing a back corner of the studio, behind the cameras and facing the stage with all the luminaries and pretty people on it and he says:
“I want to interview the ping-pong balls.”
So you want to know what’s next for the Heroes?
Well, a handful of Henchmen are off to Minnesota today for a wee look at another few dozen second round possibilities and then there’s the biggie next week in Chicago with the top 60 or so kids in a three-day frenzy.
Figure on first workout groups in Toronto the week after that, which is only about two weeks before the draft and it’s going to be the most accelerated pre-draft period I can recall.
And one word of warning, and please take heed:
We are entering the age of disinformation; you’re going to hear all kinds of stuff about picks and favourites and who likes who and just remember this: Teams need to keep information to themselves and you need to always – always – ask who is best-served by stories attributed to “sources” and judge them accordingly.
You know how there’s always a fair amount of consternation in some quarters about which is the best way to “build” a team and how some people think you need to stockpile draft picks and others say you have to make trades and others contend you need to get a group together and let it grow?
Well, all we have to do is look at the four teams left to fight for the NBA championship to realize how true that is; how obvious it is that there is no cut-and-dried formula because there are all kinds of avenues available and they all work.
Let’s look at them:
Built by continuity, consistency, a bit of draft luck (Ginobili 54th, Parker 29th, winning the Duncan lottery), some astute trading (Diaw, Green, Jackson) and the odd solid free agent picks (undrafted Gary Neal).
Built by excellent drafting (Westbrook, Harden, Ibaka) with some draft luck (how different are things if Portland does what turned out to be the right thing and take Durant rather than Oden), and good trading (Perkins).
All free agents (James, Bosh, even Miller and Battier) they are the one best example that if you are willing to live through years of true misery, you can make a huge free agent splash as long as you have South Beach and Dwyane Wade.
You need to be able and willing to make huge deals for immediate gains because the trades for Garnett and Alllen (only accomplished because they had the pieces to make them, of course) and it was nice to find Rondo late in the first round of the draft and it was prescient to keep Pierce around for more than a decade.
So maybe as we head into tonight’s festivities here we should once again sound that cautionary note, that there’s no one way to construct a team that’s better than another, that it takes a level of astuteness and a dose of luck to keep things growing year after year.
Yes, when the HOTH find out where they pick tonight (and what number draft pick they should try to trade) it will be an important moment but no more important than seeing “organic growth” or making a series of trades or finding some second-round draft picks who pan out.
Just a word of warning.
What else goes on at the lottery?
Well, since there’s almost an entire day to kill so GMs and Henchmen and others try to fill it with work.
I’m hearing the HOTH will, along with some other teams, got see Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb work out somewhere in Manhattan today (no, media not invited) so there are some other things going on besides waiting around.
Don’t read anything more into that than you should. It’s a workout arranged by an agent for select teams and is just part of the draft due diligence process even if Lamb is probably going to be on a Raptors short list depending on how tonight turns out.
So, a few of us are the Mets game last night (thanks, Jim, for a nice relaxing night out) and two things struck me.
Citi Field (besides the abomination of a name) is a really nice ballpark, big but comfortable, excellent services without going over the top and far, far, far better than that joint in Miami we went to earlier this season.
(Yes, there did appear to be an outdoor bar in left field but it was not the Clevelander and we didn’t even venture out to see it).
I love real baseball parks (sorry, Rogers Centre with the roof and the plastic grass doesn’t cut it, even with the lid off and sun shining in the pitch of the seats is too gradual and there’s simply an antiseptic feeling to it) and this joint felt like it.
The other thing?
When we do all-time favourite mascots, how can we forget Mr. Met?
Sure, he’s goofy and rather pedestrian but he makes me smile every time I see him.
Put him on the list with the Original Chicken, Youppie and the Philly Phanatic as some of the best in the stuffed animal business and I’m wondering why it is that baseball has the best?
(Yes, Our Chicken is great, best in the NBA but the baseball things, well, I like ‘em a lot).
Is it that the pace of the game allows you to watch more? Is it the rather colourful garb (Mr. Met excluded, of course)? Not sure but you have to admit, when it comes to mascots, there’s nothing like baseball.
Momentary digression done.
Yeah, we better star the mail. I’m off to OKC tomorrow and it’ll be busy but there’s always time, right?
Been about a month since I travelled and I’d really forgotten the joys.
Arrive at Pearson early for the 7:30 a.m. American Airlines flight only to find out it’d been delayed until 10 a.m. (AA because of the addition of the “you can’t get there from here” trip to OKC) and arrive at posh Broadway hotel to find out the league hadn’t sent over the names for the rooms yet and no one at the desk had even heard of me.
Remember how we thought Spurs-Thunder could be, as the kids say these days, epic?
Well, the absolute truth of the matter is that it’s now basically a one-game series. If OKC doesn’t win Thursday, this one’s over and after seeing a lot of last night’s Game 2 (after the deluge and resulting hour-long rain delay ran us out of the Mets in the eighth), I’m wondering what it’s going to take to beat San Antonio.
They seem to get whatever shot they want whenever they want it and while they are far from the dominant defensive team they once were, they can turn the screws for a six- or seven-minute stretch when they have to in order to put a team away.
And here’s one of the more interesting points about this San Antonio team:
It’s the most explosive offensive unit still playing and who ever thought we’d say that. They score almost 105 points per game – about 10 more than Miami, about four more than the Thunder – and they are a joy to watch on offence.
I think we need to find anyone who still thinks they’re boring and send them off somewhere.
This is a rather interesting story on Chris Bosh, more than capably crafted by Tom Haberstroh at espn.com, and I’m sure there are those out there who will be fascinated by Chris’s willingness to discuss himself, his place in the world, his feelings and the feelings of others toward him.
But you know what?
The story is pretty much a continuation – well-written and timely and covering current events – and it speaks to what some of us have known or felt about Bosh for years: He is almost too honest, too open, too self-critical for his own good.
Look, I’m going to preface this by saying I like Chris, he was always fair and open and accommodating to me in the seven years I wrote about him almost daily; I can think of one time and one time only that he blew off reporters and that was after Jermaine O’Neal basically quit on his team at halftime of a game in Oklahoma City, a game against a very weak Thunder team that Toronto probably would have won had the two of them played and it was even more galling when Jermaine remarkably healed himself and played the next night.
(Full disclosure: I wasn’t even at that game so it probably shouldn’t count).
Anyway, the thing about Chris is that he was, and obviously still is, wiling to open up, to give you his honest feelings no matter the repercussions.
Sure, there’s a narcissism to him that’s troubling – the guy did something akin to a telethon about getting a tattoo, for goodness sakes – but that’s kind of part and parcel of what he is.
And, yes, this latest bout of the joys of fatherhood is bit bothersome in that it’s never mentioned that he’s already a father – and, no, there are no issues with that lapsed relationship any more – but, again, if someone were to ask him about it, I’m sure he’d be forthcoming.
He was one day when I got him alone and he’d been through the ringer about his relationship with the mother of his first child and a financial battle waged in the newspapers instead of privately where it should have been. Instead of recoiling, and blowing me off, he openly discussed it, what he wanted for his daughter that Christmas, how he was handling a very sensitive, private issue.
We often complain about high-profile professional athletes who don’t let us inside. I’m not talking about the wretched TMZ-ification of the world of sports celebrity, where titillation counts for more than insight, where garbage passes as news; I’m talking about true feelings, no matter what people will think about you when you put them out there.
And if Bosh puts his out there, all the more power to him. I don’t know if it endears him to readers or family or friends or teammates but I don’t much care; I like that he does.
I’m not all that big on the twitter world – I read it as much as a tip sheet than anything because I really don’t care what a lot of people had for lunch or how nice they think the day is outside – but any time Jack McCallum writes something, I read it and you should, too.
(I think the book on the 1992 Dream Team will be a must-read when we get a shot at it)
Anyway, I seldom do this but you need to follow him and go here to get the best from one of the best.
Know what kind of sucks?
That the TV networks here that are showing the NBA playoffs don’t always give us pre- or post-game coverage. You’d think – at least I would – that it would enhance coverage and attract people and isn’t that what it’s all about?
Pretty galling to click on TSN2 for the 8-8:30 half hour on Sunday before Game 1 of Spurs-Thunder and see some crappy recap of CFL plays from a season that’s been over for seven months and was kind of dreadful that they went immediately to some canned hockey poop right after.
Lucky viewers, indeed.
Hang on a cotton-picking moment.
There’s some human being out there suggesting he was “roughed up” but The Beebs?
What? Is the guy like 7?
I am sure I know people who will lose their jobs after PostMedia cut Sunday papers across Canada amid other money-saving moves Monday and I’ll just say that sucks.
And it sucks mainly because, as we mentioned last week in the wake of the New Orleans news, cities need viable, vibrant, muckraking and good newspapers to keep everyone honest and I don’t care how they couch it in terms of more local news or whatever, having fewer people in the craft – editors, reporters, layout specialists – diminishes it.
Kings in 6.
(Tee-hee. Like I know)
Feel the anticipation for tomorrow’s lottery?
Look, the balls are going to fall where the balls are going to fall but I know conspiracy theorists live out there so …
Here are three:
New Orleans wins
Of course, they do. David Stern botched the best Chris Paul trade, the Hornets still don’t have Erik Gordon locked up beyond this summer and he sucked Tom Benson into buying the franchise that seems to be in dark days. You don’t think the league owes them?
Anthony Davis is the only possible franchise-changing player out there, why wouldn’t they want the Bobcats to have him. After all, it would ensure that Michael Jordan couldn’t blow another draft pick. And unless he hires Leonard Hamilton III to coach, why wouldn’t the league want him to have the first selection to keep a struggling franchise alive.
New Jersey wins
What? You don’t think the No. 1 pick can be parlayed into Dwight Howard, which keeps Deron Williams happy, and draws some fans to Brooklyn who’d otherwise have no reason to watch this team?
Besides, why wouldn’t you want to keep a Russian oligarch happy?
So, when one of those three teams wins, we can all sing a chorus of “I told you so.”
So you may as well relax right now, deck’s stacked against HOTH.
Stupid early fight to New York so this is up stupid early and if you offer a comment and it takes a while to see it, it’s because American Airlines or the weather screwed up my flight.
Have a good morning.
There really isn’t anything like a sport win that comes somewhat out of nowhere in the eyes of the general populace and stirs that patriotic heartstrings, is there?
Yes, Ryder Hesjedal’s win in the Giro d’Italia on Sunday (Cathal’s take on it is here; basic reportage by yours truly here) was one of those moments and even if I hadn’t been part of it on the periphery, it would have been cool.
It would have sent people who have no knowledge whatsoever to their TV screens or computer laptops to find out just how he did what he did, just as, say, non-golf fans went to learn more about Mike Weir that year he won the Masters.
And that’s another great thing about sports; men and women we don’t know doing something we weren’t all that aware of but something that is truly significant and substantial.
Every now and then something happens and we collectively sit back and go, “hey, that’s cool, I didn’t know that guy. Good for him.”
Sure, there are diehard cycling fans out there – we had the Giro on the TV by our sports desk all last week and I learned a fair amount more thanks to a poobah in the photo department who is a huge race fan – and they were able to follow things far more closely and appreciate Hesjedal’s efforts better than you and I.
But we got into it at some point on Sunday – at least I imagine more than a few of us did – and for a very little while it made us feel good.
We were proud of the fact a Canadian did something a Canadian has never done; we were proud of the fact on of us worked so hard for so long for relatively little glory in his home country because we want our athletes to compete for the right reasons.
I’m sure a few of you smiled when you saw his eyes glisten as they played O Canada and he stood in that gaudy pink jersey; a few of you smiled when he started celebrating and they showed he and his family sharing what has to be an incredible moment.
Now, I don’t imagine Hesjedal’s accomplishment – and it truly was something special – will spawn a new generation of devoted cycling fans across this land. He will become a bit more famous, when people see or hear his name in the next few months they’ll say “hey, that’s the guy who won the thing in Italy, isn’t it?”
But for a day or two, Hesjedal made us feel a bit better, he made us a bit proud that he was out there representing our country and doing well.
Another aspect of the beauty of sport.
This is how my mind works and it’s a scary, scary place.
For some reason – I have no clue why – this song got in my head and I can’t get rid of it.
And, no, you cannot get enough Tennessee Ernie Ford on a Monday morning.
How fitting is this?
It’s Bike To Work Day!
No, I’m not; not sure I’m leaving Hazelville today after a rather busy weekend and facing a 7:30 a.m. flight tomorrow and a whole bunch of work this week.
The pucks final start yet?
Doesn’t it seem like forever ago when they figured out who was in it?
This whole Kyle Lowry-Kevin McHale thing that’s been going on in Houston over the weekend (Jon Feigen’s got the dope here) may end up being little more than a tempest in a teapot.
And I don’t know what anyone out there really thinks of Lowry as a guy but I do know he comes with a huge recommendation from one guy I know who is, and always has been, a pretty good judge of character and talent.
Al and Lowry are boys, they are Villanova cats who have hung out for years, Al has worked as some kind of summer mentor to Lowry the past few years and when Williams tells me the kid is a tough-minded, first-rate guy, I believe him.
Now, it wouldn’t surprise at all if, after this first little public brouhaha blows over a bit, that the Rockets don’t explore trade options for Lowry.
And, yes, there will be maybe a couple of dozen teams that will call the Rockets but I promise you that Alvin will be in Bryan’s office urging him to see what he can do.
Now that’s what basketball looks like.
Hope many of you got to see a bit of Spurs-Thunder on Sunday night because after the relative slop we’ve been subjected to here in the East, it was a pleasure to see a game played at what looked like warp speed.
It wasn’t the greatest of games – too many turnovers – but it did have all the things we want: various runs by each team, a game not decided until the final couple of minutes and at a tempo that at times made the head spin.
I will say this: If Manu Ginobili can play like he did, and if James Harden plays like he did, this one might not last seven and not be nearly as great as we hope.
I don’t think that’s going happen – and I really hope it doesn’t – because this series could salvage what really has been a ho-hum post-season.
Draft lottery Wednesday? Everyone pumped?
So the Shawinigans win the Memorial Cup, I see.
Now, I know why they do a four-team tournament in a site selected a year earlier; it’s good for cross-country interest and TV and whatnot and it’s always nice when the host team doesn’t embarrassed itself but …
How many of you Irregulars remember the days of “8-point” finals, where it was team-against-team in a best-of-seven series that didn’t have overtime games (so it could conceivably go eight or even nine or 10 games) and it was played all in one city.
I can remember lying around the house late at night with the transistor radio listening to Paul and Hap Emms lead the Niagara Falls Flyers against, I believe, the Estevan Bruins one year and being amazed at the enthusiasm of the play-by-play guy on old CJRN Niagara.
Maybe you Buffalo Sabres fans have heard of him.
And thus endeth today’s trip down memory lane.
Well, well, well.
What do we have here?
Here we go again; well done, a couple of lists I’m sure you’ll weigh in on and some other fun stuff.
Hurry through it and the rest of your chores, though. We’ll be back around 8:30 tonight for the return of the IGBT if you’d like.
Q: Doug. Thought you'd enjoy it if you haven't seen this.
Wilbur L, Toronto
A: I hadn’t seen it and that’s pretty cool and since Dwane has referred to his weird and wacky matchup zone defence as an Eephus pitch, kind of fits here, doesn’t it?
Q: Hey Doug. How many first ballot HOF players are in the league right now? How many of those will be inducted in the next 5 years (in the twilight of their career).
This question comes from the perspective of trying to compare the talent in the league now compared to era's past.
Colin K, Ann Arbor
A: No one’s going to get inducted until five years after their playing careers so the “twilight of their career” point doesn’t hold.
And you know that I’m a bit of a hard-ass when it comes to Halls of Fame and immediate induction so I’m marking this hard.
I would hope there are only three who are first-ballot locks and they are Kobe, LeBron and Duncan.
Now, I’m sure guys like Wade and Tony Parker and Kevin Durant (although he’s way young to be thinking about that now) would get some consideration and probably will be but I’m sticking with my three.
Q: Ok Doug, hopefully this is something different for the mail.
Favourite named arenas/fields? My list includes almost any Brit location like Anfield or White Hart Lane, then the Rose Garden, The Palace, Camden Yards (my current fav), Ebbets Field, Polo Grounds (all time fav). I understand teams taking corporate sponsorship money but I do miss places having a unique name. Enjoy!
Heath M, Toronto
A: Oh, I need to mimic yours in a lot of ways, Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field are top of the list for sure but how about Lambeau Field (they didn’t sell out on that one) and, you know, when you say, The Forum, people know what you’re talking about.
But the all-time best one on my list:
Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego for one very simple reason.
It was named after a sportswriter!!!!!!!
Q: OK, need questions, here is one in the spirit of the NBA awards. Given their time on the Raptors (not what happen before or after,) Award these:
MVP, Coach, Defensive player, sixth man, best rookie season, all Raptors team 1,2,and 3 (of course by position.)
And best quote, ever.
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: Hmm, I’m hoping I understand your question correctly, just when they were in Toronto, right?
MVP: Vince Carter.
Coach: Butch Carter.
Defensive player: Doug Christie.
Sixth man: Morris Peterson or Dee Brown (a tie)
Best rookie season: Damon Stoudamire.
All-Raptor first: Alvin Williams, Christie, Carter, Chris Bosh, Antonio Davis.
All-Raptor second: Jose Calderon, Tracy McGrady, Morris Peterson, Charles Oakley, Kevin Willis.
All-Raptor third: Damon Stoudamire, DeMar DeRozan, Dell Curry, Andrea Bargnani, Keon Clark.
Now, I bet there are half a dozen guys I’ve forgotten but that’s what I’ve got and, man, centre has been a black hole, no?
Best quote's a no-brainer: Oak, who once said something to the effect of "no use crying over spilled milk, just go to the store and buy some more."
Q: Hey Doug. Apologies if you've answered this question before, but do you know if there has ever been discussions about bringing a WNBA team to Toronto or elsewhere in Canada?
Diego S, Toronto
A: Probably have answered it at some time in the distant past but no big deal.
Yes, there was some very, very, very preliminary thought way back probably a decade ago but it didn’t get any traction whatsoever. And there was some talk of an outside investors group looking at Toronto a few years ago but it died a rapid death, too.
Would it work? I have my doubts but I do think there’s a segment of the population that would like it. But financially, I think it’s a tough sell.
Q: What is your take on the Kyle Lowry situation in Houston. If you were the Raptors GM would you seriously consider going after Lowry who has two years left on his contract at about 5-6 million (which is a bargain in my opinion)
Mario A, Toronto
A: Oh, I’d absolutely make a call but I’d probably be on hold while about 20 other GMs made calls, too.
Now, the reporter in me loves that he put his disgruntlement out there; I know for a fact Houston management would hate having dirty laundry aired in public.
Q: Hi Doug. I just read about Kyle Lowry publicly saying it's either him or McHale. I know a couple of weeks ago there was a discussion here about the merits of a Kyle Lowry. He is a solid second-tier PG and his contract is very reasonable. So, in the absence of being able to get a Chris Paul-type, he seems like a remarkable asset for a team.
My question isn't so much "should the Raps make a run at him", because I think 20+ teams around the league will make that call now. I think the question is more: if you're management, how do you deal with a situation like that? You can't allow the players to dictate who the coach is (Dwight Howard) and Lowry's been away from McHale for a month now with cooler heads not yet prevailing. You also know it's already hard getting good value for a player like Lowry and he's just brought all offers down to the 2004 CAD exchange rate.
On the flip-side, if I'm a GM calling Moray, do I only offer my $0.65 on the dollar because, "what if the guy clashes with my coach, too?"
Official kick-off-to-the-summer-weekend here in Ottawa: Ottawa Race Weekend. Wish me luck!
David T, Ottawa
A: If I’m Houston, the first thing I do is get Lowry and McHale in a room and see if their differences can be worked out. And even if they can’t, I make sure the message coming out of the meeting is that things aren’t as bad as they first appeared and it’s time to move forward just so you don’t get a lot of bargain-basement offers.
There’ll be a bit more on Lowry in the morning; there’s an interesting angle I need to explore today.
Oh, hope the race went well.
Q: Greetings, inspired by the submission in Saturday's mail dealing with potential dangers in kids playing hockey and football. To possible ridicule... but looking back at my personal experience of years playing hockey there was a time when the sheer enjoyment of the game carried the day. Initially either pond hockey or road hockey, we played for the fun of it, were we competitive? Absolutely. Did we learn determination? Absolutely. Did our skills develop? Absolutely, although in my case maybe "somewhat" would be more appropriate. Anyway then came "organized" hockey and the path down the slippery slope started.
Equipment was still fairly rudimentary when I started to play, basic stuff, first year not even a mouthguard. As the years went on the organization became more and more "organized", expectations rose and "safety" equipment evolved. Point being is many years later, playing men's league with those that grew up in the same era and learned to respect each other and ourselves, we could play to the extent of our skills and be reasonably sure that everyone would be able to go to work in the morning. As our kids started to join the games things changed. Our kids had grown up being required to wear the head to toe armour that kids do now and one very interesting fact was displayed. This generation had absolutely no understanding of what, for example, a stick to the head could do, and consequently, paid no heed to what their stick may be doing at any given instant. Somewhere along the line the "fun" was morphed from what it originally had been.
When I read of the injury issues today, and it is an oversimplification to blame just one thing, I can't help but think we removed a part of a process that while admittedly had dangers also provided a very important lesson in the respect necessary to compete.
Doug T, Brantford
A: I can’t speak to this entirely first-hand because I don’t have any offspring playing hockey – or football, for that matter – and I don’t do it myself.
But I do think the sense of invincibility thanks to improvement in equipment made lead to more bravado, and some reckless play. I would imagine kids – and adults – think “oh, I got hit this way and it didn’t hurt me because of this equipment, it won’t hurt the other guy” and that’s a dangerous thought process.
Of course, the flipside is that kids are without question better protected by better equipment – you don’t see anyone with Sears catalogues as shin pads any more – but it truly is a double-edged sword.
Good job, again, Irregulars.
Got some left over for another shot tomorrow morning but there aren’t that many that we can’t get some more.
And think it’s time we got back to the IGBT portion of our entertainment? Since there’s baseball practice today and the inherent socializing after I can’t do tonight but how about Sunday, 8:30 p.m. for Game 1 of Spurs-Thunder?
See you then?
Q: Doug. John Hollinger at ESPN did a couple of pieces on players who have enhanced/harmed their market value based on their playoff performances. My question to you is a bit different: have these playoffs hilited any attributes that specific Raptors could offer in a playoff environment? In other words, might any Raptors have enhanced their market value based on what teams recognize as being needed to compete successfully in May and June?
Gary M, Ottawa
A: That’s a very interesting question, actually.
We’ve seen some teams even as far as the conference semifinals with flaws that are glaring.
So, tell me again how good Jose Calderon would look running the offence as the starting point guard in Los Angeles with the Lakers and don’t you think the Sixers, who can’t make a three-pointer to save their souls, would be better off with Andrea Bargnani in the role currently played by Elton Brand?
And please don’t anyone go all “Brand’s a better rebounder” because it’s simply not true.
Now, at this young stage of his career DeMar might be better suited coming off the bench with a true contender – and I fully expect that to change as his game grows and he matures – but don’t you think he’d look pretty good in, say, Atlanta or even with the Lakers?
It’s all about opportunity and need and fit but those three teams would be better, in my opinion, with those Raptors in those roles. I’m sure there are others – and others from other non-playoff teams – who would also fit but I think those are three top examples.
Q: What is more likely, finding an alligator in your backyard, or the HOTC getting to the second round next year?
If you won $50 million, what would be your first car purchase?
Speaking of alligators ...how about a little William Haley?
Bob E, Kanata
A: The alligator in the backyard story was a classic and if one ever ventures own to the southern climes of Hazelville, mama’s getting some new shoes!
I’m not a big car guy at all but some kind of Mercedes sports convertible is top o’ the list. Or a new less-smelly Ford Focus (not!
That the guy?
Q: To your Aaron Gray comment in your May 21 blog: how much do you think the HOTH are going to have to offer this summer to retain his services? By way of reference, Joel Anthony signed a 5-year deal with the Heat for $18mm but he plays more minutes than Gray (averaging about 22 to Gray's 17).
Mike D, Toronto
A: That’s a good one and tough to answer because I think teams are going to be very frugal with relative fringe players this summer with a new, more onerous tax system ahead.
And Gray, while okay and quite serviceable in his role as basically a part-time player who was the best screen-setter on the team and a presence inside on a so-so team, probably deserves a raise.
But considering he made $2.5 million last year year and will now find himself in an even more muddled front court with the arrival of Valanciunus, I don’t know how much of an increase he can expect here. Or anywhere, really.
So let’s say you offered him a three-year deal with the third year not fully guaranteed for about $11 million total. Say $3 million, $3.5 million, $4 million. Would he take it? Would you be in a bidding war? And if you were, would you care greatly if you lost?
Q: Oh Grand Pajundrum of all relevant issues: Bobby Z turns 71 today. Saw him at Massey Hall in '63, '64 and when he plugged it in at Newport in '65.
Thanks as always,
Frank B, Toronto
A: He did turn 71 and who cares what we did Thursday, there’s always time for more, right?
Massey Hall before Newport?
You’ve lived, my friend.
Remember this ditty?
Q: Hi Doug. I've got a question about the Olympics and the qualifying process that I hope you can answer. I recently read the story about boxer Mary Spencer and her (hopefully temporary) setback in qualifying. This has got to be a difficult time for her and potentially a worrying situation for the Canadian Olympic Committee who have featured her prominently as part of their advertising for London 2012. And I'm wondering why qualifying takes place so late in the pre-Olympic process. Logistically for athletes and organizers this has got to be difficult: not knowing who's participating until so close to the start of the games. And for athletes like Mary Spencer - whose countries have gone ahead and used their images to promote their athletes - the pressure to qualify must be tremendous. So, is the timing to serve athletes' physiological preparation? Or all about high drama? Or something else entirely? Thanks!
Lorie P, London
A: I think the reason most qualification takes place so relatively late is that the Olympic organizers, and the various national Olympic committees want athletes who are at or near the top of their games going to the Games. It’d be nice if you could qualify a year out or even six months out but I think you need to allow for athletes to peak at the right time and know they are at their very best very close to the Olympics. It does add pressure but don’t you want to find out if Olympians can handle that pressure?
The Spencer case has to be a cautionary tale for all concerned. Everyone in the Olympic family and the boxing community knew she hadn’t officially qualified and knew what the process was but there were still those who went out and trumpeted her as the “face” of the Games far, far, far too early. That’s their fault and while it did her no favours, she was, frankly, complicit because she knew what the qualification process was and still went along with the plans.
It is, and will be, a tough story, and hopefully some lessons will be learned. I doubt it, but one can hope.
Q: Hey, don't worry about the CBC. We live in a post hockey age anyway. Too many parents are looking at hits in the head and saying, like they are about the NFL, my kids are not getting involved.
There's other evidence, of course, but the dwindling of the future talent pool should worry those running the game. Except, excuse me, they have probably been concussed too many times to think.
Beverley G, Vancouver
A: I know there’s no question here but that’s cool because you raise an interesting point. I don’t know about the registration numbers for minor hockey or minor football cross-country and I’m sure if I asked I’d hear how wonderful things are but I agree wholeheartedly with you.
I can’t think of many families in my circle of friends where none of the teenage boys are still playing hockey and of the ones that are, scant few are playing in full contact, highly-competitive leagues and no one I know (as the father of a 15-year-old) has kids in minor football. We just don’t know enough about long-term effects of years in the sports and the dangers are, frankly, too much.
So that was pretty much what the Miami Heat can do and there are two thoughts in the wake of their series-clinching win over the Pacers last night:
Can they do it eight more times and win a title?
Why haven’t they done it 100 times before?
That was as good a two-man game as I’ve seen in a very long time (guess Wade’s feeling pretty healthy after that five-point Game 3, no?) and showed, for one night at least, just how potent Wade and James can be playing with, and off, each other.
They ran pretty much the same play with a slightly different look when they took control in the fourth quarter, one of them using a high screen, the other flaring to the sideline and it was unstoppable.
I don’t know if the Pacers got the Heat so riled up that Miami put any differences or egos or whatever aside but the two of them in the final three games of that series might have been as good as they’ve looked as a “team” rather than two individuals all year.
I don’t know if they can keep it up, though; something always seems slightly askew with that team, there’s always some drama and the rest of the roster is so flawed I don’t know if they can beat either Boston (if that’s who it is) or the survivor of the Western Conference final.
But for last night, it was a sight to behold; no disrespect to a Pacers team that played hard and never really quit but that was completely one-sided from about the second quarter on and it never felt like Indy could steal a win.
We all know that the Philadelphia-Boston series that will wind up Saturday night has been far from esthetically pleasing – downright ugly at times would probably be a more apt description – but you have to admit, there’s nothing like a Game 7.
In almost any sport, any round of any playoffs, if things come down to one game it’s worth watching and paying attention to.
You get to see who can put aside the inevitable nerves and angst, see who can deal best with the mounting pressure, find out who shrinks and who shines.
The games, at least the ones I can recall well, aren’t generally the greatest ever played, most likely because everyone’s been careful not to make the one glaring mistake that will cost their teams so dearly. It adds a whole different layer to the narrative, finding the one guy who can take over with so much on the line.
We saw the great Kobe Bryant had a dog of a Game 7 in the Finals against Boston a couple of years ago; but I also saw Tim Duncan have 25 points and 11 rebounds in a sublime Game 7 for San Antonio against Detroit in 2005, as good a basketball Game 7 performance I can recall in the last decade and a half.
And talking about dog games, I’m not even going to mention John Starks for the Knicks against Houston (well, guess I am).
Trying to figure out who might shine Saturday in Boston is a mug’s game but if I had to come up with one name, I’d figure Paul Pierce has seen it all, been through it all and this is a game he could simply take over.
Speaking of Philadelphia, was typing the city name and this came to mind.
Not bad, eh?
Seriously, outside of the days when there’s been some contentious issue or hard news, I can’t think of too many times where there have been better comments and more fun than we had yesterday.
But I don’t know that I saw in a single ‘favourite concert’ note one mention of any of the SummerFests at Rich Stadium.
Looks like rain which means I’ll escape any kind of yardwork for at least a bit today so before they make me clean inside, give me some more mail to do, would you?
Mighty Red Tigers some number.
Dastardly Other Team some number MINUS ONE!
Yep, we may not have an unbeaten season but we’re not going to have a winless one, either.
Gonna make tomorrow’s very long, very full practice a bit easier to take.
This really has nothing to do with anything except a couple of friends I have down there and a general angst about the future of our industry but news this week that the New Orleans Times-Picayune was going to basically shut operations as a daily paper were jarring.
It’ll still publish three days a week but it’ll be a horrible replica of what’s out there now as the owners shift to a total web-based news operation; jobs – many jobs, I fear – will be lost and, frankly, the people of New Orleans will be short-changed as it becomes the only “major” United States city without a daily newspaper.
Two things stand out:
Cities like New Orleans “need” a paper if for no other reason than to do good, solid reporting that keeps civic officials, business leaders and, yes, cops in check. Papers – physical papers – still provide an invaluable service to their readers and their cities; they are watchdogs as much as information-deliverers and it simply is not the same if those words are on a computer screen because (a) I’m not sure they carry the same weight and (b) not everyone in that city spends an awful lot of time at a desk reading; you always saw the Times-Pic in coffee shops and the odd cocktail lounge it struck me they has always been well used.
The second is, and this is totally personal and reflects my age, I fear, is that I truly believe newspaper reading is close to a tactile exercise as it anything else. I truly think kids these days – and far too many adults, too – are missing something by not sitting leisurely for at least a little bit every day flipping through the pages of a physical paper if they’re just looking at some screen on some laptop, tablet or phone.
It’s fun to read with paper in your hand, kind of relaxing and you should try it sometime.
We’ve been lucky here in Canada that we haven’t lost any major papers, we have ownership still willing to weather any financial storm, we have designers who make them look pleasing and inviting and, right across the country, we have brilliant reporters and columnists who serve readers in so many different ways.
That might translate to a fully-web-based publication but I doubt it and I’m glad we haven’t had to find out.
Doug Smith has been a sportswriter for more than 30 years, a journey that's included seven Olympic Games, numerous and varied championships and more dreary regular season games than he'd care to remember. Here, he'll talk about them all, as well as current events and pop culture. (Just don’t ask him about music nowadays — it's not his cup of tea).