Nash news nothing but good; and Reggie's still being Reggie
Basketball? You want basketball?
Yeah, we’ve got some today.
I’m hearing that the good folks at Canada Basketball are putting a new, old face on the senior men’s program today.
Dude by the name of Nash. Steve Nash.
They tried to get this done about six weeks ago or so but some contractual snafus came up at the last minute but we’ve all be summoned to the Air Canada Centre today at noon for some big old announcement.
No one’s saying anything on the record early this morning – am getting some “can’t confirm or deny” replies to e-mails – but it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure it out.
Not entirely sure what the title will be, or how hands-on the role will be, but getting Nash back in the fold in some management capacity is a pretty good get for those folks. He remains the greatest male basketball player this country has ever produced, he played for a dozen years on the national team and gave it its most exciting run since about 1936 during the 2000 Olympics and when anyone around the world thinks of basketball in Canada his name rolls quickly off the tongue.
If there’s one thing Nash has done over the last few months, it’s to reach out to the younger wave of Canadian player, the young kids in college, the two yutes in the NBA, and if he speaks, they tend to listen. And if listening means they actually end up playing for the senior team at some point, that’s about as good a service as Nash can provide to an organization he gave more than a decade to as a player.
No, I don’t imagine he ever takes to the court again – that era is gone, it was a fine one while it lasted – but the strength of his personality and his history as a player will make it hard for kids to say “no” when the national team comes calling.
Some will, of course, because there will be other people in their ears and bad decisions will be made but having Steve Nash in the fold and making the calls not only helps recruit players, it helps the corporate side go out and make deals and it really is a win-win all around.
All that was missing – and it may have been there, I was kind of watching and drifting and listening more than paying rapt attention at about 2 stinking a.m. – was the chant:
“Reg-gie, Reg-gie, Reg-gie”
Yep, our old friend Reggie Evans was up to his usual hijinks sometime early this morning, creating havoc, clandestinely beating on people, doing his Regend kind of stuff as the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies continue to salvage a rather awful first round of NBA playoffs.
Too bad the games are so damn late, eh?
Anyway, perhaps you were sleeping but Chris Paul did his Chris Paul stuff as the Clippers blew a late lead before they beat Memphis in overtime to take a 3-1 lead in their series and when the game end there stood Reggie, holding the ball aloft after rebounding the final Grizzlies miss.
Kind of fitting, and kind of nice to see.
With so many series so boring – they really hasn’t been another compelling one – the Clips and Grizzlies are at least adding some drama to this first fortnight of the post-season and there’s still a sneaking suspicion that this series could end up going seven games.
There was a 27-point rally by Los Angeles in Game 1; there was a buzzer-beating finish in Game 3 and then Game 4, while far from beautifully played, it was at least dramatic.
And at centre stage: Reggie.
He got a huge offensive rebound that led to second-chance basket in overtime, he wrestled Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol all night, as he’s done all series, and I know I’m preaching to the choir here when I say he does all the little things for none of the glory that you want from a good teammate.
(An aside because I know it’s coming: Rightly or wrongly, the HOTH decided last summer they were moving on from Reggie. They wanted a chance for young kids to play, they didn’t want to tie up any extra money – that Reggie ultimately signed a one-year deal with the Clips was a function of what was available at the time more than anything – and you can debate it ‘til the cows come home but that’s why he wasn’t back. Had he come back and they’d won, say, three more games, would that have been worth it? Debate that among yourselves)
Anyway, I think we can all be quite happy for Reggie, I’m glad he’s on a big stage on a pretty good team and contributing. I remember talking to him when we were out there in January and he wanted to make 100 per cent certain that folks back here knew how much he loved Toronto, the city, the fans and the injury-riddled time he had here. I know that was reciprocal with the fans; I’m sure you’re all happy for him, too. And probably, like me, wish the damn games were earlier.
Well, it’s not huge but it’s important.
Am hearing that DeMar DeRozan will eventually be added to the USA Select team – can’t find an official announcement but believe it’s already done – that will practice with and scrimmage against the USA Olympic team in Vegas in early July.
Good for the kid, no question. It speaks to his reputation among the good young players in the game; he’ll get a few days of intense practice with the best the NBA has to offer and he’ll pick up work ethic things by osmosis if nothing else.
And he’ll have a familiar face around, too.
Again, not official, but am told Jay Triano will reprise his role as a coach with that select team, something he’s done for the last five or six years.
Best line of the night, and I’m repeating it second hand because I think I was snoring when it was spoken, came from Charles Barkley on Blake Griffin.
“This guy's the new Vince Carter, man. Every time he gets hit, you think he's dead."