All the right answers from Valanciunas, and Garbo's here!
I think I might end up liking this Jonas Valanciunas guy quite well.
Finally got to see him play in person yesterday and he actually wasn’t that bad. Ran the floor extremely well, good on pick-and-roll offence, not so good on pick and roll or post defence but big and quick and he’s going to be a player. A pretty darn good player it looks like right now.
Not sure he’s a favourite of the Lithuanian coach, who buried him on the bench most of yesterday to go with a small lineup that got drubbed by big, and very good, Russia.
But that’s one game, no sense rushing to too much judgement on the kid, I still go back to various reports from people I respect with no affiliation with the Raptors who say he’ll be just fine.
He does give a pretty good quote.
After introducing myself as a scribbler from Toronto, to which he replied “good to meet you” and that puts him ahead in my books, first question out was what did you learn here?
“I learned how not to foul out.”
Gotta love a kid who can deliver a line and someone who knows what he’s up against.
“I get tough lessons on how hard the fight is under the basket, I need to gain some pounds and gain some power. But I’m still young.”
Dwane? Have you been telling the kid what to say?
Next up for him is a couple of weeks off – he’s been on the go pretty steadily for about a month and a half – and then it’s back to the gym because now he’s got some idea of what’s ahead of him.
“I played against all the NBA stars so I think that was good experience and it’s going to help me for next season.”
I come around a corner leaving the mixed zone after talking to Jose and who do I run into?
The one and only Jorge Garbajosa, who has to be in the top three or four Raptors of all time in my books, was standing there waiting to talk to Pau Gasol while accepting congratulations and hugs and kisses from a handful of Spanish journalists.
Garbo looks like he could still give you 12 and 10 on any given night but his career as a player is over.
Now he’s working for the Spanish basketball federation (“A big shot? Oh, no. I don’t know what I’m doing, they think I can help") and one of his primary gigs is to help prepare for the 2014 basketball World Cup.
And if you don’t think I’m already planning to weasel my way to Spain for three weeks or so to hang in Barcelona, Seville, Gran Canaria, Malaga and wherever else they play games, you don’t know me at all.
(Boss? I am soooooooo going. Thanks. Just wanted to let you know)
Anyway, another great Garbo line, right up there with “if I am the rookie of the month, this league is (blanked)” came to mind.
He used to bust on people, jokingly, for their choices in fashion, ties and shirts were a big target. One day we’re standing there, he looks at person who shall go nameless – honest, it wasn’t me, I’d take great pride if it was – and smiles:
“If you wear that in my city, you will get beat up.”
Love the guy.
Think you’re having a bad day?
Pack up all troubles in your old kit bag, please.
Things I never thought I’d hear myself say, Vol. 10 or so:
“You know, maybe it’d be kind of cool to do a day-long web diary of the basketball quarter-finals.”
And this is what you get after a dozen hours in the O2 Arena.
Hey, this is Thursday, right?
Less than a week to go!!!!!! And if you don’t think Monday is going to be spent on a walkabout that includes stops at The Ship, The Cheese, Citte of York and The Red Lion, you don’t know me.
You can also tell it’s getting close to the end because everyone’s getting a tad more testy.
Angry that buses are either full or a minute or two late, a tad hot under the collar at the crowds and the crush, a bit chuffed if things run even a wee bit off kilter.
Haven’t seen any true explosions yet – lots of grumbling last night but no swearing or punches – but it’s coming. Someone will tell me about some dust-up any night, I’m sure.
And then the Olympics will be complete.
Okay, Mr. K and I are off to the football thingamabob up or over or down in Coventry (I should really look at a map) and you’ll see the fruits of our labour here later on.
You’ll also see or have seen (this time zone thing is messing me up big time) Christine Sinclair because did the right and honourable thing by delaying any discipline for the team’s antics after the semifinal until the bronze medal match has been played.
Sure sounds to me like the mandarins of the sports realize the referee was awful, she kind of decided the outcome of the match and know that dropping any suspensions before today would have been a gross miscarriage of justice.
And I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the whole thing is swept under the rug eventually, or a suspension is offered for some “friendly” some time down the road.
And now, a personal moment, if you’ll indulge me.
This is one of the great gigs in the world, being a sportswriter. You see history on courts and you see history in the great cities of the world and it’s a priviledge to be able to try and tell some stories.
But there’s a toll. The 110 or so nights you’re away from home each year wreak havoc with family stuff, you miss things that are important because there’s not much alternative.
It takes great and loving people to put up with it, they sacrifice as much as we do, if not more.
They need to know how hard it is to be away on those big moments, how much you wish you could be there to share them.
So, Super Son, have yourself a helluva good 16th birthday, it’s a watershed moment that I hope you’ll enjoy to the hilt; I wish I was there.
And, no, you cannot drive the Smelly Ford Focus around the crescent.