The end of the weekend mail
All right, here’s the deal.
It’s Saturday afternoon, I’m watching Spain-France and would like to make dinner for the family and enjoy a quiet night on the couch so if I missed a couple of late questions, I missed a couple of late questions. Sorry.
And am off to do damage to some peninsula golf course at part of a memorial tournament that includes, if memory serves, much hilarity and story telling so if I’m late on comments, there’s a valid excuse.
Enjoy your day.
Q: Hey Doug: You often say that coaches get too much credit for wins, and too much blame for losses - a sentiment with which I agree. Having said that, could you rank, in your opinion, the four major sports with regards to which one you think the coach/manager has the biggest impact, to the one in which the coach has the least impact.
Tim H, Windsor
A: That’s a tough one because each influences a game in a different way.
But if I had to list them I’d probably go with:
Getting the right matchups with frequent substitutions and rotations, along with play calls, is tough.
It’s mostly about matching bullpens with hitters, and setting up rotations for key series.
Sure, it’s the most fluid of games and you can’t really match up stars with people they can dominate for more than a 45-second stretch and there’s no play calling, per se, but it must be hard.
Too many moving parts and most head coaches give responsibility for play calling over to offensive and defensive co-ordinators.
Q: Just in from five hours of golf in the mid day sun...Should BC take Ed O’Bannon?
Who was the better golfer, Ed Norton or Ralphie boy?
Don't forget to address the ball.
Ed McMahon or Mr. Ed?
Bob E, Kanata
A: What if Mr. Ed brought a winning lottery ticket to your door? How cool would that be?
How else would you address the ball?
Q: Can you explain why the finals game format is as it is. Also, as a higher seed if the Thunder had a choice, do you think they would play 2-2-1-1-1 or do you think they would keep the series at 2-3-2?
Jeff M, Saint John
A: It changed in the 1980s to 2-3-2 to ease the travel, it was especially difficult in the Lakers-Celtics years back then. I think, given their druthers and from conversations I’ve had, teams would probably prefer 2-2-1-1-1 now that they travel on charters and it’s not nearly as arduous.
But the league and the TV networks prefer it, it’s easier to be ensconced in one city for a week in the middle so I cannot imagine it ever changing back.
Q: Hi Doug - long intro to my question, with a few links. A couple of weeks ago someone posted a question about Moneyball and basketball. By chance, that same day, I was talking to someone who mentioned this article to me (I posted it that evening, but it might have been missed by the original questioner). It was written by the author of Moneyball, and is an interesting read. Stats don't show what Battier does (or did, and sometimes still does), but I think it's pretty clear he is a smart player. (Well maybe shooting percentage, with few shots and high efficiency would be a useful stat?) In fact, I looked up his wikipedia entry, and Sporting News placed him as 7th in terms of smartest athletes (we like lists, right?). He's drawn some attention lately, too (other than from me) ;)
Anyway, to get to my question, I think it's fair to say the Raptors could use not just a veteran presence, but one with a high basketball IQ, if I may use that expression. I think Garbajosa had it, I think Oak had it (although those infamous passes to the Nicholsons give me pause), and I'd say Anthony Parker had it. Those guys came to mind immediately.
Leaving aside questions of contracts and trades, what veterans are out there that you think have a high basketball IQ, and just seem to know where to go and what to do. This could be a general question, or specifically what guys would be a good fit with the Raps.
I hope you will be on your way to Oklahoma City when you get time to deal with the mailbag. :)
Sheila C, Ottawa
A: I think it’s generally held, and I agree, that Kobe might be the smartest player in the league and I’d put Jason Kidd high on that list, too. It’s knowing what to do and when and even though Kobe has a tendency to shoot it too much at the expense of his teammates, his knowledge of how to attack and when is impressive.
Now, guys like Kurt Thomas, or Marcus Camby, the oldsters who’ve been around for eons, are pretty heady, too. And you’d probably want to put Paul Pierce and Ray Allen on that list.
See the theme, though?
Guys who have played forever.
Q: Doug. Watching the reports on NBA Canada TV, they seem almost giddy about the Nash possibility. Then came a report that the Raps are on the short list (with Suns and Portland.) It is the worst keep secret that the Raps will be trying this summer.
What do you really believe the chances are?_(I, personally, think the Canadian thing is somewhat played too hard. As a fan I read in a blog said that, Toronto is not his hometown, and New York is his free choice in the summers.)
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: I think the chances are probably slim but I know Steve will listen and the Raptors need to make it so financially lucrative he can’t say no.
Now, I also think this: While it might be nice imagine there’s a “short list” of three teams, I don’t believe it for a second. It’s far too early in the process, every time I’ve spoken to Steve since all-star weekend he’s told me he’s going into the process with an open mind and for him to have discounted 27 of 30 teams weeks before he’s even a free agent makes no sense to me at all. Sounds good, can’t be true.
And, funnily enough, the direct quotes from him last week that he’d be interested in New York if New York had some interest kind of runs counter to the “short list of three” thing, doesn’t it?
Q: Hello Doug! Ah ha! I knew it: Miss Burley was wrong all those years ago in Detention...err I mean Study Hall when she kept shushing us so we could get our homework done. A recent study published in your paper indicates that places that stimulate the most creativity contain an ambient level of noise. I believe they registered ambient to be about the 70 decibel level.
Now, as someone who works in places like arenas where the NBA Finals take place, and the sound has got to be higher than that, as well as - is there any truly quiet place in your line of work? - would you agree that some sound contributes to your own creativity? So, what's the perfect setting for you? In which sort of places do you find the perfect ambience that'll stimulate your writerly inspiration? And don't feel you have to limit yourself to only the ambient sound that surrounds you. Give us the whole perfect sensory package, if you will! Thank you.
And another thank you; this one specifically for all your writing, reporting, informing, responding, educating and entertaining of us this past season. I hope the Weekend Of Decompressing is progressing in a pleasant manner and at your own preferred pace. Cheers!
Lorie P, London
A: There really isn’t any quiet place to ply my trade and after all these years it’s really not an issue. In fact, when I’m home and trying to type, I find myself needing some kind of white noise (TV, music, Super Son’s sax practice) to provide a background stimulus, if you will. The noise does seem to get the juices flowing a bit; I can’t imagine working in stone cold silence.
And, really, a bit of noise is all it takes; not really concerned about temperature or people or anything like that.
Q: Ciao Doug. Portugal (with Ronaldo), Spain (the world championship), the young and well coached France, the always solid and talented Germany, the never winning England and the unpredictable Italy are the remaining teams in the football European Championship.
If you are not permitted to say Spain, what team is your favorite for the title?
And, if you can say, what team would you like as the winner?
Paolo P, Roma
Post Scriptum: FORZA AZZURRI!
A: I can’t pick Spain? Hmm, okay.
Well, my mind would suggest Germany because they seem to be playing better now than anyone left, my ancestry should probably say England but they seem to plodding and slow at the back and I do indeed have a soft spot for the Azzurri.
But, really, I enjoy watching Portugal play, I think Ronaldo is truly gifted so … I think I’m on them now.
Spain, though, would be the first pick.
Q: Hey Doug. I was just wondering, after Joel Anthony winning the NBA championship, how many Canadians have won the title? And how many of them played for Team Canada? I can only think of Bill Wennington and Joel. Matt Bonner I guess would be on that list if he's ever allowed to play for Canada (I believe his wife is Canadian).
Vincent L, Toronto
A: You know I’m going to forget someone, right?
I’ve got Mike Smrek and Rick Fox on that list and both of those guys played for Canada at one time or another.
Q: Hey Doug, first time writing in but long time reader of your blog. If you were to choose between Lillard, Waiters, Lamb, Rivers or Perry Jones, who would you pick for the Raptors and why? Also if you were to choose a player that hasn't been linked to the number 8 pick (a player that is projected to go later in the draft), who would it be and why. Thanks
David S, Calgary
A: Considering I’ve never seen any of those five guys play a live basketball game, and it probably wouldn’t matter I had since the college basketball is nowhere close to NBA basketball, I guess I’d go with Rivers, Waiters, Jones, Lillard, Lamb in that order. Like Rivers ability to play two positions and his confidence, Jones is intriguing if they can harness his talent with a better work ethic. But it’s total guesswork.
And I don’t know that there is a guy who hasn’t been “linked” in some way to the Raptors and if they’re trying to keep a name hidden, they’re doing a very good job.
Q: Hi Doug: I have two questions, but they aren't really related, so if you can only answer one, that's cool.
Reading all of the infinitely accurate mock drafts out there, a lot of guys have the Raps taking a SG, and saying that DeMar can move over to SF. Is DeMar equipped to actually play that position?
In terms of trying to get Nash, it seems like if that happened, Jose's on his way out. I would assume that they'd want to package him along with the 8th pick to maximize value returned, but of course the draft is before free agency, so if they traded Jose, then didn't get Nash, the team has basically no point guard. I guess my question boils down to is Jose going to be a Raptor until/if Nash is signed, and if he is, go from there?
Thomas T, Antigonish
A: Never mind the mock drafts, they’re entirely guesswork but the fact the Raptors are looking primarily at guards is, as we’ve said repeatedly, because those are the best players available and they are not worried about “stacking” a position, especially because there’s so little behind DeRozan right now. And, frankly, none of the players being touted are going to come in and unseat him immediately. As for whether he could handle the 3, I’m of the opinion the 2 and 3 are becoming more interchangeable all the time and if one of them can stretch defences with shooting, it doesn’t matter what they’re called.
Jose? Not on the way out at all right now. I would have no problem with him and Nash on the same roster, despite the salaries, because it’d be one year at that cost and it’s not too hard to handle.
Q: Check out these airport amenities. Quite a few will make you cringe, some are in your wheelhouse but nothing beats a stool!
I can't blame 2 young men who chose to live/work in Miami, they re-upped. I'm cool but I'm still cheering for ABM (anybody but Miami) give em credit for their execution, superb.
John C, Mississauga
A: That’s some pretty good stuff in the airport amenity department for sure; lots of places I’ve been where I’ll now look for things to do.
Now, I’m a man of simple tastes but I really, really, really wish it’d be mandatory that every airport in the world offer free wireless and have a rather upscale coffee outlet on every concourse.
And you’re right: Nothing beats a stool to wait out a long layover.
Q: Hi Doug. In honour of Hoyt Wilhelm, have you taught super son the knuckler?
Why don't more guys learn this pitch? If Tommy John threw it, Dr. Andrews would probably be a dentist.
Any updates on whether global warming is for real? (45 on the old humidex in Ottawa) Lovin’ Spoonful?
Bob E, Kanata
A: As hard as I tried, it was impossible for me to convince Super Wife that it would have been wise to tie Super Son’s right arm behind his back for the first three years of his life to turn him into a lefty, situational or otherwise, so his 20-year major league career would have been an annuity for us; and he couldn’t quite grasp the nuances of the knuckler. They will now, sadly, have to take me feet first out of the job.
Q: Good job covering another season, Doug. Watching game 5 of the finals, I couldn't help but enjoy watching Mike Miller drain 7 threes out of nowhere like that. I was hoping OKC would win, but to see a guy in that much pain give that kind of a performance was pretty fun, and inspiring. I've been a fan of his since he was at Florida, and it was great to see him likely go out on top like that.
In your years covering the game, who are some players you've been personally happy to see win/succeed like that?
Thanks, and enjoy the summer ball season.
Curtis B, Ottawa
A: Two come quickly to mind.
It was really nice to see Matt Bonner handling the championship trophy because he’s a good guy, as we all know.
And when Chauncey Billups won it with Detroit, along with being the Finals MVP, I felt pretty good because I’d known what a long, strange trip it’d been for him.
Q: Hey Doug: How about a question regarding flights? Assuming you're flying out of Toronto, what are your top three flights to NBA cities? And what are your worst three?
I am sure that most Irregulars would agree with me that anything you write is a must-read. Thanks!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Well, you’re probably not surprised but I like flying to good airports that aren’t far away from where I’m staying and have easy access to either cabs or rental cars.
With that criteria, I don’t mind going to Philly, Charlotte or Indy, all pretty good airports for my needs. Of the West ones, Minneapolis is all right and so is Phoenix.
If I never have to fly to LaGuardia (cab lines forever, bridge and tunnel traffic always bad, crappy small airport) or O’Hare (if you’re staying downtown, add an hour to the trip) or Houston (it’s a loooooooong way from the arena), I’d be okay.
Q: Hey Dougie. I already know I will not be able to make this point the way I want, but I'll give it a shot.
I am a Toronto Raptors fan and an NBA fan, in that order. I am loyal to the home team above all else. I honestly cannot cheer for a guy that use to play here, he seems like a nice guy, great player. But he also hinted at coming back when he in fact had no intention of doing so. He said some things, all though not offensive, may detour future FAs from signing here. He wanted to win and thought it wasn't possible here, so he left, and now we as fans are expected to root for a guy that gave up on our team. A team that would have done anything to keep him and make him the center piece of a contender. It's not that I want him to fail, but I do want our team to be better.
It's also double standard. Hard for me to belive Bosh or Lebron being genuinely happy if either of their former teams won a chamionship this year? I'm sure they would say all the right things, but there's no way they would be happy about it.
I was glad to see Lebron win a championship. I had no vested interest financially or emotionally to his decision to leave Cleveland. But I can understand why Cavs fans are bitter. Just like I understand why Sonics fans are happy the thunder lost. It's hard, maybe impossible to be happy for someone or something that gave up on you.
Please dont misinterpret what I mean by giving up. I'm sure Bosh played hurt and gave %100 on every play. But he did, in the end, decide it would be easier to win in Miami. And he was right.
Shred away Doug. Shred away.
Marcus T, Newmarket
A: No, no, no.
No reason to shred, you make a valid point that I’m sure is shared by many, many others.
I do think the point about Bosh detouring other free agents from Toronto is a bit of a stretch, I don’t think he holds much sway around the league.
And I guess the best way to sum up my feelings is how you did: I don’t expect anyone to become a “fan” of a team or a player but to appreciate the effort it takes to become a champion and let the lingering bitterness go.
Of course, I don’t have as vested a rooting interest in the HOTH as many do so there is that difference, as well.