Game 1, Year 18.
Where does the time go?
Game 1, Year 18.
Where does the time go?
I would think by now you’d realize I’m not the biggest Kevin Garnett fan in the world, I have admired his willingness to play hard every night but his whole howling, trash-talking, self-motivating over-exuberance has worn a little thin over the years.
Strikes me he’s more of a wannabe bully these days and I’m not sure it carries very much weight with other players now; they see it as the trickery that it is.
That said …
I loved the way he snubbed Ray Allen last night during the Celtics-Heat game.
I am a fan of Allen, love his game, love the way he handles himself, he’s always been a pro and a gifted player.
But this whole hugging and saying high and being friends and lovers during games and before games kind of irks me.
It’s certainly not just Allen, it’s endemic in all sports and doesn’t it fly in the face of the whole reason they play them? For good, hard, legitimate competition?
I understand entirely that a lot of these athletes are close friends, they’ve grown up together, probably been teammates before and there truly is some kind of kinship among them.
But leave it for after the game. Or the summer. Or the off-days. Sure, maybe a handshake of good luck before a game isn’t too bad but there seems to be almost too much familiarity and maybe it makes someone wonder about the legitimacy of the actual competition.
I know that some – and probably all – players can put aside personal feelings once a game starts but I kind of liked it better when opponents were opponents before, during and after games.
That’s the healthiness of competition; all this love-in crap before the game gets to me.
I’m glad Garnett ignored Allen’s friend entreaty while the game was going on, hope it becomes the norm. It won’t but we can hope.
Know what I’m not?
Big on Halloween.
Really, I can’t remember the last time I had a costume on and I don’t quite get it. But Happy Halloween, everyone. Guess the thing I’ve missed the last few years is Super Son’s cache of candy that I could “borrow” from over the course of the few days following Halloween.
But you had to guess this might be coming, right?
Let’s nip this in the bud right now.
Please do not expect Andrea Bargnani to become a good rebounder; his coach doesn’t and this kind of echoes what we’ve been saying here in rebuttle to the slags we read weekly.
“One thing I’ve come to understand, and we did the same thing with Dirk, he’s never going to be a great rebounder so to turn him into a rebounder is like turning Reggie Evans into a three-point shooter. It’s not going to happen.
“But the one thing he has to do is box his man out. Not let his guy get the ball so that’s the deal we have, that’s the rebounding he has to give us.”
Sound fair? If that’s Dwane’s standard I think fans should be comfortable with it, too.
Mail? Sure, why not get it started.
Not sure what we’ll do this year, with so many Friday night games calling out for some sort of discussion, maybe we’ll only do one mailbag a weekend?
I don’t know, let’s see how it goes.
But for now …
Oh yeah, chat time at noon for an hour, okay?
It’ll be post-shootaround, I’ll likely be lounging in the media room at the arena so stop by and say hello.
I’m not entirely sure what to think about this Ricky Romero news yesterday that he had minor elbow surgery to clean some stuff up a couple of weeks ago after experiencing some discomfort – that’s the best way to put it, not pure pain – for most of last season.
I love an athlete who doesn’t make excuses (check out Romero’s quote that ends with “I stunk and that’s it” in Brendan’s piece here) and Romero going back out there day after day when he knew something was off was commendable.
I suppose some might think he should have let someone know at some point early in the process so he could maybe get it taken care of and finish the season better but, all in all, I guess I’d rather have a guy willing to work through some things in silence in order to try to help his team.
Besides, if they decided to shut him down at some point last season, it would have been just another blow to the psyche of the team and its fans.
I haven’t been in New York, I have only spoken to a few friends there electronically in the aftermath of Sandy but from the pictures I’ve seen and the stories I’ve read, I’m not entirely sure I can get behind the NBA’s decision to go ahead with Thursday’s Knicks-Nets game at Brooklyn’s new Barclay’s Center.
Sure, I get that it’s a big event, there are TV and future scheduling concerns to think about but, really, doesn’t it strike you that the city seems still under siege and putting off a somewhat meaningless sports event might be the right thing to do?
But part of me hopes it works because we’ve got to be there Saturday and it’s already going to be New York City Marathon weekend and it’ll be a circus. If they get through Thursday, Saturday should be okay but I question the wisdom of going ahead with the first game.
Hey, do me a favour? Anything “extra” you want to see in either IGBT (and we’ll be here for sure tonight) or in the post-game regular fare here?
Let me know; if there’s stuff we can do, we’ll do it.
Now I’ve just been informed I have to gut a pumpkin before Super Family carves it and there’s a shirt to be ironed, a shootaround to go to, a chat and a game.
Busy day and I love it; about time we really got into the rhythm of a season, isn’t it?
It was kind of fun, actually, we were overwhelmed by the number of comments that arrived, many well thought out and which could have led to far more discussion.
But the heart of the conversation was supposed to be which team is closest to contention of the pucks, Raptors, TFCs and Blue Jays and while we didn’t come to any consensus, I’d say the Raptors are the next Toronto team to make the post-season, followed by the Blue Jays, TFC and I don’t know about the Leafs, mainly because I don’t know if there’ll even be a season and if there isn’t, what kind of setback that will cause. But the interesting questions was about championships, and whether it’s better for fans to have a team catch lightning in a bottle and win one before fading away or to have team that’s always in the post-season but still striving to win it all.
I can see both points, a championship run is exhilarating (or at least that’s what friends tell me, I haven’t experienced one in decades) but I honestly think the second scenario might be better.
After all, you have to walk before you run so getting in is the first job; and once you’re in, who knows what might happen, as we’ve seen so many times with lower seeded teams taking advantage of breaks (Philly in the NBA last year when Derrick Rose got hurt) or coming together at the right moment (last year’s Kings in the pucks, or the ’99 Knicks in the NBA).
But if I’m a fan and you gave me five straight years of playoffs – with hopefully a natural progression for a first-round exit – I might take that over one magical year and then nothing.
What do you think?
But, of course, in the discussion was a question of which team would win a title first of those four.
Me? I took the Blue Jays. It’s a sport where you can transform your team in very short time (two pitchers, three hitters with career years out of nowhere and you might get there) and the playoff journey is not nearly as arduous as the others. Get the right spot in the regular season and you could have a really short run to a championship.
We all agree?
Maybe you guessed this was coming?
If you’re looking for a Raptor who might come out of relative nowhere to have an impact this season I’m going to suggest you pay close attention to Alan Anderson.
He seems to have supplanted Linas Kleiza as the primary small forward backup – Anderson’s a better defender with quicker lateral speed and, frankly, he’s shooting it as well as anyone today – and Anderson’s just the kind of guy Dwane likes, as the coach told us the other day at the casino.
“He’s a solid pro; he’s a man and it’s man’s league. He comes out and brings a solid effort, he’s where he’s supposed to be all the time, nothing fancy, nothing flashy, he just goes about his job. And that’s what you respect about it and that’s why he’s back here.”
With Landry Fields struggling to shoot with any consistency, and with Anderson providing some of the toughness that Casey so loves, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Anderson doesn’t have a much increased role once the season gets going.
Man, that was some wind overnight, wasn’t it?
Feel terrible for my friends in New York City and on the Eastern seaboard and I will say this: The forecasters got it right and I guess that might let them off the hook for the other scares that haven’t quite panned out.
Hope you all got through it safely.
So I see Amar’e Stoudemire might be out six weeks and Kobe might miss the Lakers opener with a sore foot and the NBA regular season is upon us.
I’m sure you’ve all seen this but if you haven’t (and shame on you!) here’s how one guy sees the year turning out.
And if you get back to our site this evening or tomorrow morning, there should be all kinds of Raptors stuff, too.
Hmm, I see not too many of you are in total favour of any kind of paywall we might put up sometime in 2013 after Mr. Cruickshank’s announcement yesterday morning.
As I mentioned the other week in a mailbag, I believe it was, there has to be some way for newspapers to monetize the internet since dwindling print advertising revenues are a huge issue.
Now, I also don’t think we can, or should, start charging for everything and I have the utmost confidence in our Tallest Foreheads that they won’t make that the case.
I know “trust us” might not be something you want to hear but I must say I was a bit taken aback by the rather strong reaction to a rather vague announcement from our publisher.
I think we should all just relax a little bit and see what they come up with next year; maybe it’s only “extra” stuff that carries a fee, maybe there’s a limit on the number of items that are free. I don’t know and – as hard as this is to believe – they haven’t shared their innermost thoughts with me.
But something is coming, it’s the way of the world and, sadly, it’s unavoidable.
But we also don’t know what it is.
Hey. Since you’ve all read that little discussion we talked about off the top, what did you think of it? First time we’ve tried anything like that and we always appreciate feedback.
James Harden can’t get a deal on a contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder and, boom!, he’s shipped off to Houston for a package of players and picks.
Not sure how much a more punitive tax threshold that’s coming factored into OKC’s decision – it had to play a role – but I think they might have made the right basketball decision as well as the right financial one.
Look, Harden’s a gifted player, no question about it, a 23-year-old shooting guard who should be entering the prime of his career and he may have had an atrocious NBA Finals last June but he’s skill.
However, he’s also never been The Man and never would have been on any team with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and it makes it a lot easier to be very good when you’re surrounded by great. I don’t know that he’s capable of lifting a team on his back alone because he’s never had to do it and there are enough flaws on the Houston roster that no matter how good he is, they are a marginal playoff team at best.
The Thunder is still good, very good, still the second-best team in the West (and awfully close to the Lakers) and losing Harden isn’t going to change that. They are being a bit financially prudent – it’s a byproduct of the new CBA as much as anything – and while you might see some shortsightedness in this deal from their side, they are better poised now to be flexible in the future than they would have been had they stuck with Harden at a maximum value deal.
But here’s one of the more important things about this whole affair:
For every decision someone makes, there are consequences and repercussions that you need to live with and have to anticipate when you make them.
I would presume, and hope, that Harden and his agents knew there would be backlash to his turning down what would appear to be a pretty good deal but you can’t leave a good situation without knowing there would be a price to be paid.
And as long as you’re willing to live with those consequences and repercussions, there can be no looking back.
I don’t think for a second that Harden regrets what he did, nor should he. He did what he thought was best for him and there’s no reason to look back.
We can’t presume for a second to know who “won” this trade at the moment, it might take a year or two before that becomes crystal clear.
But the salient fact right now is that it looks like everybody won:
Harden should get is maximum value contract, worthy of it or not.
The Rockets got a fine young player and still have enough money to go after another one next summer.
The Thunder still have Durant and Westbrook and Serge Ibaka and their depth and ability to get young players in the future has been enhanced.
Sure, it would have been nice had Harden taken the last offer and stayed in a place where they had something special going on. He didn’t, he made a choice, rightly or wrongly, and has to live with his decision.
You had to know this was coming, right?
Man, don’t you just hate it when things just fizzle out.
Like the World Series.
Good on the Giants – and team with a guy they call Panda and a pitcher who evokes memories of Sidd Finch is okay with me – but I’d rather have seen the Tigers win.
Or at least win a game because there’s nothing as off-putting as a sweep.
But at least now we can start thinking about how AA is going to fix the TOD and who might manage it.
I’m available for either.
I’ll tell you what, aside from the fact it’s about 150 kilometres from Casa Doug, they’ve got something good going up at Rama, the casino way up north that hosted the intrasquad game Sunday.
And quite aside from the fact two public intrasquad games is one too many – ask the coaches and players in their heart of hearts whether they really wanted to be there and you’d get an overwhelming “no, not really but I guess we have to do it – the facility was outstanding.
Had that theatre lighting we like so much and it’s too bad it only holds about 3,000 for basketball because I bet it’d be a cool place to have a pre-season game.
No, I don’t know how Jose Calderon or John Lucas III is after banging up their knees yesterday and we won’t find out until much later today after practice.
The timing’s awful, though, if they have to miss even a day of practice since they’ve only got today and tomorrow to get ready to start things but, as Dwane said somewhere in this piece, things can happen at any time.
Just a tough break.
Oh, yeah, we’re going to chat.
Seems we have this thing at noon today with me, Not Grace Kelly, Dave F. and McGran to talk about the sorry state of Toronto pro sports teams and that ought to be, um, fun.
And there’s some talk about doing something at noon on Wednesday that’s basketball specific.
Man, you folks and I are going to get to be really close, aren’t we?
And is that a good thing?
Hey, bundle up and be safe, folks.
It’s going to get nasty out there.
I’m off to Rama for practice – never been there before, kind of interested to see how they pull it off – and then need some revisions to an NBA preview thanks to the big Harden trade last night.
You’ll see more on that tomorrow.
Oh, and I can sure pick a World Series winner, can’t I? Damn Tigers.
Q: One for the mailbag. So, there's a new outbreak of SARS, massive layoffs at Mother Star, a barely-averted zombie apocalypse that wipes out half of the staff or whatever. The Powers That Be insist that the scant few remaining writers cover everything the paper normally does, and the writers will have to wear several different hats. Let's say 3 you'd like and 3 you'd hate.
What would you go for? Restaurant reviewer, fashion guru, romance advice columnist?
Would you try to avoid the City Hall or crime beat, celebrity gossip or the pucks?
Jonathan M, Toronto
A: I think I’d like to write four general columns on week on whatever I fancied and I’d probably be okay doing restaurant reviews (as long as I didn’t take it too seriously) and if I had to go do some baseball, I’d be quite happy with that.
If they made me cover politics at any level, crime or economics, I’d probably seek alternate employment.
Q: What is worse:
Having your birthday fall on Halloween or Christmas?
Being the 14th guy on an NBA bench, or a CEO for an oil sands company? (Or a city engineer in Montreal)
Having a great jump shot and being unable to dribble, or having a great handle and being unable to shoot?
Being a blog/sports reporter kind of guy or a regular schmo?
Being Obama, Romney, Dalton, Harper, or being anybody else?
Bob E, Kanata
A: Christmas would be way worse, wouldn’t it? Don’t see a lot of Halloween gifts.
An NBA 14th man has no real responsibility, it’d be way easier than being some boss and you can always teach a guy to shoot so I’d rather be able to dribble first.
My gig’s the greatest, a regular schmo’s might be too routine.
And for all the perks of the job, I think being President would be kind of neat.
Q: I love the way you periodically insert stuff that has nothing to do with basketball, whether it be other sports or other-than-sports (eg, YouTube clip on Memphis musical). As regards the latter, any idea whether and, if so when, that musical may make its way to the Frozen North?
Bill W, Burlington
A: I don’t, unfortunately. I remember reading something about them making a movie with the original cast but I honestly don’t know where that is in the process.
But if you get a chance to see it; or even watch a bit of it on-line somehow, I’d recommend it highly.
Q: This may be a bit late for this week. Assuming that the Raptors and DeRozen doesn't agree to an extension before Halloween, if DeRozen is traded this year, does he still become a restricted Free Agent with his new team next summer?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: If there’s no deal before Halloween, he’s a restricted free agent wherever he ends this season. A team that acquired him mid-season could not start negotiations until next summer on a new deal.
Q: Hello Doug. The only really troubling part of the pre-season has been the slow starts, at both ends, but especially defensively. So Coach Smith, if there was a tweak to be made among the starters, any ideas? About the only thing I come up with is maybe Kleiza for Fields. Might be good for both their comfort and productivity levels, at least until Landry gets more acclimated with Casey's system? And Kleiza has that mental toughness. Thanks for the blog!
David M, Ottawa
A: I was trying to think of that very thing after the game Friday in Memphis and I guess, all things considered, the small forward spot might be the spot, unless they wanted to make a change with Valanciunas, but I don’t think they do.
But maybe not Kleiza. Since the issue is giving up points at such an alarming rate, perhaps they look at a so-called defensive stopper like Anderson there?
But I don’t see anything happening for at least five or 10 regular season games.
Q: Congrats on the Nash interview, pleasure to read, thoughtful, insightful responses. Questions were well thought out.
Finally the regular season is here. Any idea why the NBA would kick it off with the battle of the Titans, Wiz/Cavs? Can' t figure that one!
John C, Hazelville
A: Yeah, that one does seem out of place, doesn’t it?
Only thing I can think of is they wanted a Kyrie Irving-John Wall matchup for the NBA TV game and didn’t get it.
Q: Hey Doug: Since you basically answered my question about Stern in today's blog, I'll replace it with this one (and hope it's not answered in the Nash article!):_On the cover of a recent Sportsnet magazine was the sub-headline "Can Nash and Kobe play nice?" or some such. I haven't had a chance to read the article, but can you see any sort of conflict occurring? Steve is a great facilitator, but I get the sense that there are times when Kobe wants to be 'the one.'_Thanks!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Part of our NBA preview package that’s running the first of the week is a piece on the Lakers that gets more into this but having spent some time out there and knowing where all those players are in their careers, I suspect there will be no issues at all.
Q: Hello, Doug: It's been awhile so maybe one should be polite and ask how you are? Air Canada, Marriott, cabs and hotels and all other parts of the travelling life of a sportswriter been satisfactory - or at least reasonably priced and on time - lately? Oh, and here's some travel advice for you. If possible, avoid any trips to the North-Eastern Seaboard next week. I'm hearing something about a storm that's one part Nor'Easter, one part blizzard and one part hurricane - with a full moon and Hallowe'en arrival date thrown in for added horrow.
Anyway, my questions. I'm looking forward to reading your interview with Steve Nash in my paper tomorrow - and perhaps these questions will be answered in the piece - but right now I'm wondering about how the feature came to be.
Did you approach Steve Nash directly or was it a case of "your people talking to his people" sort of thing? Did you decide jointly to publish the interview in a Q&A format or is that always left up to the writer in these situations? Were you limited to a certain amount of time, (and was it enough?) as in, do you get the sense his days are fairly heavily scheduled? Which one of you chose the location(s)? And, as I say, I haven't read it yet - but did you ask him about any future political aspirations he might have? I'm still liking him for that Governor General of Canada gig. Thank you.
Lorie P, London
A: It wasn’t really all that hard to put together, actually. When Steve was here for the national team announcement and camp, I had mentioned I thought a trip out there during training camp would be good, the bosses thought it was a good idea that fit into the schedule and a couple of texts to Steve the week before set it up. Most players like to just do scrums after practice and get on with their day but I’ve been writing about him for 20 years or so and when I mentioned I would like a little one-on-one time after a couple of workouts, he was fine with it. John Black of the Lakers PR staff helped facilitate it to and it went off without a hitch.
As for the style, it was a discussion with the Tall Foreheads, we knew it would be wide-ranging and might not lend itself to a strict narrative so that seemed to be the best way to present it. Was kind of easy on me, just a matter of asking some OK questions and letting the conversation roll; I don’t mind that every now and then at all.
Governor-General? If not him, then me. That’s if I can’t be a Senator, that is.
And me? I’m cool, a de facto 10-day road trip to Montreal, L.A. and Memphis was a bit tough but we’re getting into the rhythm of the season quite nicely.
Q: Any changes to the intro this year and anything special for opening night planned?
Alex H, Toronto
A: Oh, I’m sure there are but I’m sure not privy to them. That’s a state-held secret.
Q: Hello Doug. I had the opportunity to attend the Raptors Coaching Clinic last Sunday. Retired NBA referee, Steve Javie, spoke to us and told us some very interesting stories about life as an NBA referee. That brings me to a few questions:
During your career, what was the most memorable confrontation you ever saw between a player/coach and a referee?
Which current or past Raptor coach was the best at working the referees during a game?
Which current/past referee is very good at managing the game and its personalities in the NBA?
Joe D, Mississauga
A: I heard that was a great day, very cool.
Classic confrontation involving a Raptor coach? That’s easy. We’re in Miami, Sam’s coaching and the officiating is, um, suspect. He explodes (right in front of Larry Tanenbaum, who was at the game) and gets ejected. He walks about 30 feet onto the court, points at each of the officials and says something to the effect of “ screw you!” to all three. Classic.
As for working the refs? Butch was really good, he’d have a way of making quiet points without much fanfare that planted seeds.
And I know some won’t believe this but Joe Crawford is great at engaging and explaining and then getting on with things during games, so is Dan Crawford, another well-respected official.
And that’s the way it should be.
The Raptors and his people are still chatting – and I know Bryan’s said often that he considers DeRozan a key part of the future – but doesn’t seem like a deal is imminent and the kid will become a restricted free agent next summer.
No sense, in my mind, in tying up big bucks for years to come on promise; it makes far more sense to see what the season is like, see how DeRozan develops and find out what the market is like next summer.
Doesn’t mean they don’t want him, and he’s had an excellent pre-season for the most part, and it’s not like there should be any acrimony as the Oct. 31 deadline comes and goes.
It means the Raptors are being financially prudent, keeping open some flexibility for next summer when they might be able to make some free agency moves if need be.
DeRozan has had a good camp, he’s more aggressive and stronger and better capable of finishing at the rim right now but gone are the day when teams should pay for promise; now it’s time to hang on to cap room and pay for performance rather than the future.
I presume there’ll still be conversations between DeRozan’s folks and the Raptors before the deadline arrives; I’d be shocked if they came to any kind of long-term agreement.
And it’s not just here where they’re being safe. I think there’ve only been about three or four guys who’ve had their rookie deals extended and the biggest question still unanswered is what the Oklahoma City Thunder do with James Harden, who is in exactly the same place as DeRozan.
I have no clue what’ll go on there but I do know teams seems to be far more careful with long-term contracts for any players, young ones chief among them, and that just makes sense.
Rum Booogie Café at the bottom of Beale, a cup of Gator gumbo, a couple of bottles of refreshment and jazz and blues live on stage?
Not a bad end to a de facto 10-day road trip to Montreal, Los Angeles and Memphis.
Did here the fellas do a version of this one, which was nice.
Things You See, Vol. 1,291,209
Leave the room about 6 a.m. in search of coffee, see a fella about my age and a bit bigger on all fours outside his room door fumbling around and you wonder, hmm, this can’t be good. “Sir, are you okay?”
Um, seems he was, just was a late night on Beale Street as evidence by the stumbling and bumbling and weaving while trying to fit the key into the door.
Miffed with gusts to perturbed.
And a tad perplexed about the zaniness that went on as the HOTH (Heroes Of The Hardcourt) gave up 36 first-quarter points in another desultory start.
“I don’t know what it is but we have to find a remedy for it because it’s a trend. I know it’s pre-season … but it’s been every game we’ve gotten off to a slow start and the second unit has had to come in so we’ve got to either look at the lineup, see what we’re doing, who’s in the lineup and what we’re doing. We give up 66 points in the first half and that’s unacceptable.”
He said he’s not panicking but he has options that he’ll explore if this continues once things start for real on Wednesday night. I don’t think it’s time to make a change yet – and I don’t know precisely what they change would be – but if this trend does continue for the first three or four or five games of the regular season, all bets are off on what he’ll do.
“We can’t wait to the second half to get started, when they throw it up at 7 o’clock, we’ve got to be ready to roll and we haven’t been.”
Yeah, we should have some here, but there was other stuff to do, there’s the Nash stuff that follows that I wanted you to see and there probably wasn’t enough to spread over two days.
So if you want to get in on the fun …
I’m going Memphis-Charlotte-Toronto and not home until after dinner but I’d like some fun letters to see when I get there.
Yeah, seeing the story on line confirmed there was some good stuff in there, but here’s a wee bit more that didn’t make it.
Q: What do you think people think of you? As a man, not as an athlete?
A: I think I get an overwhelming support from people and I’ve gotten so much respect and support in my life and career that sometimes … I’m almost skittish about it. It feels like I don’t deserve all that.
People, what do they think about me? I think people think that I’m generally a good guy that has a passion for life and that likes people. I’m not perfect and I think people realize that but I have a sense of humour and I have a passion for life.
Q: There are basketball players who are solely basketball players, they have a sense of entitlement from the time they’ve been teenagers until the end of their NBA careers and have nothing outside of that. You do.
My parents never got in the way of us but at the same time never allowed us to be entitled or spoiled. Life was never meant to be easy to me, therefore when life throws shit my way, I don’t feel sorry for myself.
I just think it comes from your parents or your coaches or your teachers … I feel like I really had people that kept me straight as a kid.
I can’t remember how we started this question.
Q: It’s about the inquisitive nature of your life, with the green initiatives and the peace initiatives and things like that?
I think what I was getting at was I think my parents had interests in other things, they were always inquisitive in every conversation I overheard.
I was pretty wasn’t ready in university. I was majoring in basketball – I know that’s a … cliché – but I was going to the gym every night so I was going to the gym twice a day and I was just trying to get by in school. I’m not necessarily proud of it but I believed I could do it so I got stuck on that path and then afterwards I got more inquisitive and wanted to travel and I was just intrigued by the cultures. I think if you have an open mind and you want to travel, all of a sudden the whole world opens up to you, whether it’s the environment or peace initiatives or whatever. When you travel and you meet different people and you’re sensitive to that, you can’t help but open your mind to different things. That’s how it came about.
Good evening, everyone
Hope all's well.
Everyone will have an opinion, some more well formed than others, but in this corner, he leaves a legacy of unfathomable success and as one of the very best commissioners in the history of the four North American pro sports.
You’d probably put Pete Rozelle at the top of that list all-time, you might say for competitive balance and North American success that Bud Selig’s doing a pretty good job but what Stern has done globally is unmatched, and will be, forever.
Yes, he can be autocratic and a bit of a bully but you can’t herd ownership cats and players like he has to without being that way. It’s not an easy job by any stretch of the imagination getting diverse personalities and businesses to act for the common good and if takes some arm-twisting and arrogance and toughness to get it done, so be it.
Yes, there were lockouts – they seem inevitable -- and, yes, vetoing the original Chris Paul trade might have been a stretch of authority but if you’re a position like that, things are going to happen and decisions will have to be made that, in hindsight, might not be the greatest.
But it cannot diminish from the overall picture.
Stern made, or helped make, an incredible amount of money for a lot of people; he presided over an era of unprecedented global growth of the game and the sport is positioned today better than perhaps it ever has been.
I guess the argument could be made – and will be made – that the growth would have been inevitable and others in Stern’s place could have pulled it off, but I doubt it and discount that point of view.
No matter what you think of him, he got it done; he twisted arms to make deals because he had to and he cleaned up a sport rife with drug problems and one that was far out of the consciousness of the general public and made it a global force.
He presided over an era of inclusion for people all over the world, he presided over an era where basketball almost rivals soccer as the world’s No. 1 game. No, it’s not there yet but it’s closer than you think.
Say what you will about his style but his style works for the common good; he’ll leave a game unimaginably better off than when he arrived and he should be remembered as someone who had a passion for the sport and business that was perfect for his time.
Is he perfect? Who is?
Was he a perfect fit for the job? I’d say so.
You wander down Beale Street at 6:30 p.m. and stop in the Blues Hall Juke Joint and hear a really good five-man band doing the blues and then you can walk up to BB King’s to have some catfish bites, a couple of glasses of Yeungling and hear three guys do Suspicious Mind because it’s the last No. 1 hit for Elvis and it’s a not bad night at all.
And the common song heard at both places?
Should have worn by Muddy Waters t-shirt.
So, yeah, Obama goes on Leno and says something about hoping the pucks people get their act together – as if anyone connected with the union or ownership are going to pay attention – and it becomes news.
This would have been news.
“Jay, I don’t care if they ever come back. Hockey’s a marginal sport here in the United States, I don’t think too many people miss it and, besides, I’m a basketball guy and if there’s no hockey, there’s more room for hoops.”
But, seriously, who gives a rat’s bum what a politician says, it’s sure not going to make a bit of difference to the two sides.
Speaking of questions and answers …
And, yes, we shall return with an IGBT tonight, right around 8 p.m. Toronto time, if you’re interested.
As a guy who has decried the lack of original nicknames in sports these days, I’m quite fine with the Sandoval dude on the Giants being known as the Panda.
All right, you might want to sleep fast tonight because, with all due modesty, the Steve Nash thing we’ve got going in the paper is pretty fascinating.
It’s not “written” it’s more a Q and A and his own words, I was the guy doing the transcript and the questioning.
Q: I know the Terry Fox film was obviously a very personal thing (Nash produced a critically-acclaimed documentary on Terry Fox for ESPN’s original 30 For 30 series) and I know you and Jay (Triano, an old friend and former coach) had great respect for what Terry did. How did that influence your life?
A: I was six when Terry was running across our country and to see a young man running across Canada, he looked like a hero and he looked fit and healthy and then you notice he’s limping. As a six-year-old, you think, ‘hey, look at this great athlete, why does he have a prosthetic leg, what is that, why?” And it just provoked so many questions and taught me so many things about life. Not only about the fragility of health, the fairness of life, but getting on with life and being mentally tough, unselfish and bringing people together, so many lessons and thoughts that Terry provoked in all of us. As a six-year-old it was pretty impressionable and I’m sure it was the same way for everyone at every age.
He was a hero to all for us add I don’t really know if there’s a bigger figure in Canada than Terry Fox. Even Gretz because of the special moment in time and Terry’s incredible story.
Seriously, I don’t often toot my own horn but there’s some really interesting stuff in there if you’re inclined to give it a read either today if it gets posted here this afternoon or tomorrow morning in your paper I don’t think it’d be time wasted at all.
Okay, I’m back to normal after that little LA experience, a shootaround and an early story today and don’t forget we’re coming to Rama on Sunday afternoon for yet another open practice.
See you then.
ßSo I’m checking in with some folks back home after the HOTH go through their work yesterday and the story is that Dwane was a bit cranky because it was one of those blah days I warned you about in the interminable pre-season.
It was another off-day with little to look forward to, everyone’s a wee bit bored, a wee bit tired and focus and intensity are lacking and who can blame a coach for being a tad miffed.
Now, I didn’t see the other night’s game but I did see the five before it and despite a gaudy record (if such a thing exists in the NBA pre-season) there is a lot of work to do for these guys and I know Dwane understands that.
They are on a good path – the offence is better than I’d thought it would be, primarily thanks to DeMar DeRozan and his ability to finish at the rim now – but if anyone thinks they’re ready to start the season, I suggest they check their meds. And look at the number of turnovers if you really want to gasp in horror.
The defence has slipped a little bit, they give up far too many points in the paint and the transition defence is sorely lacking at times. It’s what they used as a calling card last season and maintaining that edge is the only way they’ll continue to make gains this season.
But here’s the thing: They aren’t far off from being okay, if Dwane proved anything last season it’s that he can get them to defend more than adequately and suggestions he couldn’t find a way to put in an effective offence have to be squashed by what we’ve seen so far.
That’s the funny part, isn’t it? These guys are scoring at a rate that’s more than acceptable; they need to tighten up at the other end.
Of course, maybe they’re scoring because they’re playing a bit faster and maybe a half dozen or so turnovers every night are directly attributable to the speed at which they’re playing.
As Dwane has been saying almost all the pre-season, they have to find a balance; so far they haven’t struck it.
You know what gets totally under-rated when it comes to entertainment and entertainers and what we should like?
I’m sure a lot of you know a lot about it but I don’t and I’m always blown away when I see the talents of the Broadway performers, or any live musical theatre anywhere for that matter.
So I’m off to Memphis and could do BB King or Elvis or some blues. But, no …
Last Broadway thing I saw was so outstanding you need to hear it.
Oh yeah, Tigers. For real. In six.
And go ahead, have at me for the reverse jinx and everything because someone obviously switched Zito for Verlander without telling me.
And, yes, I (heart) Miguel Cabrera for his hitting acumen but if he had any kind of fielding dexterity, he comes in and gets the ball that hits third base before it has the chance to take a wild hop and he gets the ball in the fourth that goes to his left.
I’m watching the game and having Tiger fielding flashbacks to the last time they were in the Series and they couldn’t catch a cold or field a bunt to save their lives.
And if you can’t field the ball, you cannot win.
Sooner the better ‘cause Friday’s going to be busy and today, not so much.
Okay, okay, okay.
Given that it was 20 years ago yesterday and a first and quite the moment in Canadian sports, I’ll give you the first Blue Jays World Series win was pretty special.
But if you want to put it on that list from yesterday, it’s going to have to be at least seventh because as far as drama goes, I’m putting 1993 ahead of 1992 by quite a stretch.
The first was cool – I was covering it from the bowels of the old Atlanta stadium as a wingman to the one and only CP Slim – but I don’t think the series holds a candle to the next one.
<-p>Sure, the Ed Sprague homer was dramatic and the upside down flag was cool and Game 6 was special (check out Boxer’s recap of that night here and stroll down memory lane) but the Philly series the next year just evokes more memories than the 1992 one does.
I remember the zany 15-14 game pretty well – I was working for Canadian Press and the game went so long a story I wrote during it on the rather odd night of Todd Stottlemyre ended up in the early edition of the Toronto Star and I thought I was the cat’s meow for that little coup.
I remember sitting with Slim and, I believe, the outstanding AP pair of Ben Walker and Ron Blum and betting that Joe Carter would pop out foul to the right side about a minute before he homered (which, in hindsight, seems to have been my first reverse jinx); now that was drama.
Atlanta? I don’t remember an awful lot except the work and tumult immediately following the game. The series? Outside of the Sprague homer, the blown call that robbed the Jays of the triple play at home (it should have raised the first call for instant replay) and the flag thing, that’d be about it.
But I cannot believe it’s been 20 years and a day. I’m old.
I’m not sure whether this 4:30 p.m. start to most games and a 5 p.m. start to the World Series is a good thing or a bad one. Starts the day early but ends the night the same way.
Of course, with an 8 a.m. flight, I guess that’s not a bad thing.
You want a feel good story if you’re a fan of Canadian basketball?
It’s Kris Joseph apparently making the Celtics from a second-round draft slot; a story I read yesterday seemed to make that a certainty.
I remember talking to Joseph at the Chicago combine last June and he struck me as a kid with his head in the right place. He knew, and knows, his limitations and will work on them, he’s unassuming with a solid work ethic and when I saw he’d been drafted by Boston, I figured that was a great spot for him.
Doc, and the other Celtics, appreciate hard work and a willingness to learn and do what it takes to stick. I don’t imagine Joseph is under any illusions about what he is or where he fits in Boston; I’m pretty happy he made it, though.
So, who do we like?
I’m going to leave all the legitimate analysis to guys like Griff who know far more than I do because, well, because they’re smarter than I am (although any team with a Triple Crown winner on it has to be great, doesn’t it, Mr. Sabremeticians among you?).
But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a rooting interest and let you know about it, does it?)
It’s just deciding why that’s hard to get to.
You know I think Justin Verlander is the best pitcher of this generation and Miguel Cabrera is, well, a Triple Freaking Crown Winner and the rest of the Tiger staff is outstanding until you get to the arsonist Valverde in the ninth so that should be enough, right?
San Francisco is an exponentially better city than Detroit, there is not even a comparison.
The old Tiger Stadium was way better than the old Candlestick.
I’ll take Willie Mays and Juan Marichal over Al Kaline and Jack Morris, I believe.
The new park in San Fran looks way cooler than the new one in Detroit, which is far too cavernous for my tastes.
Tomassso’s is one of the top 10 road restaurants; there is nowhere good to eat in Detroit or Auburn Hills.
There might not be a more under-stated and classy uniform in all of sports than Detroit’s.
Tigers in six.
Sounds pretty well thought out, no?
Thinking cap time.
Best World Series I can remember?
Here we go, from five down to one.
1986 Red Sox-Mets
Buckner. Mookie. Crushed.
Game 6 might be in top 10 games I’ve ever seen.
Puckett’s homer, Morris’s One For The Ages.
Lolich and Gibson both go nine in Game 7? Unheard of. Classic.
1975 Reds-Red Sox.
Bernie Carbo. Carlton Fisk. Joe Morgan. Will never forget it.
And if you can’t recall it, check out this recap of Games 6 and 7 and live some nostalgia. I sure did.
What have you got?
Any why do I long for the days when you’d hide a transistor radio in your desk at school? Ah, the good old days.
Oh yeah, did you guys get the news yesterday?
About the Raptors hiring a guy named Dave Pendergraft as the team’s new pro personnel scout?
He’s the de facto new Jay Triano and comes over after being an assistant GM in Atlanta. He’ll be out on the road an awful lot checking other NBA teams and their personnel and he’ll be another Henchman to bounce stuff off as trade talks heat up.
And I’m sure he’ll put putting together a dossier and a depth chart on the other 29 teams that’ll come in handy next summer when it’s free agent time just as much as it will next January and February when Bryan’s in the throes of thinking about trade possibilities.
It’s a pretty big job and it goes a lot further than just knowing who’s playing well and who can make a jump shot or not. One thing pro scouts have to find out, through sources and their own eyes and repeated visits and conversations is what kind of guys players are. Are they good teammates? Are they the least bit disruptive when things aren’t doing their way? Do they get along, generally, with coaches and general managers?
All too often we’ve seen players acquired amid even marginal fanfare and a few months later they’re on the move again because there’s just something about them that doesn’t fit.
I’m not saying it’s all on the pro personnel guy to figure that out – like everything else, the final call remains with the GM – but it’s part of the “scouting” process that sometimes falls by the wayside.
For no other reason than it popped up on the iTunes shuffle while I was writing …
That and I’m sure we’ve never had Trombone Shorty and James Andrews here but we should have ..
Kirk Hinrich hurt his groin in a game last night and Derrick Rose is on the shelf for months and John Lucas III picked Toronto over any chance to stay in Chicago.
That really says an awful lot about the kid, doesn’t it?
Right, it’s that time of year again.
Am on a panel this afternoon to pick the guys on the NBA’s all-star ballot (the other luminaries scheduled to take part are NBA.com ace Steve Aschburner, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle and Kenny Smith of TNT fame) so when it comes out and your guy’s name isn’t on it, blame them, okay?
But it looks like we might have a different job than in the past – this is my fourth and final year on the job, thanks to my gig with the writers association – because they seem to be finally changing the way the ballot is laid out, according to this David Aldridge story.
Makes entire sense and makes it far easier on us and, after all, we all know it’s all about me, right?
It’s going to be crazy busy over the next few days with some Nash stuff for the weekend, some Lakers stuff for the first of next week, a trip to Memphis to catch up with the lads later this week and a whack of NBA preview stuff to do.
But there’s always time for mail if you’re so inclined.
I’m way late to the dance on this and I know a couple of Irregulars already mentioned it but I did get a chance to electronically congratulate and say hi to Tammy Sutton-Brown this week after she and the Indiana Fever won the WNBA title.
Tammy’s is one of the most under-reported stories of the last few years, she’s had a long and illustrious basketball career here and all over Europe – I think I recall writing that she won a title in Turkey one year – and it’s a story we should have told more often.
And it’s not just basketball she’s been busy with.
Check out this little gem, the little girl and the chameleon who area the subjects of some children’s books Tammy’s penned. That’s pretty cool.
Not sure if there’s much basketball left for Tammy, she’s going to stick around these parts this winter to work on her girls camps – she’s been running them in and around Toronto for a few years now – and market her books.
I must admit I haven’t read them but I’ll blindly recommend it because I’m pretty sure Tammy would do a good job.
Someone check ‘em out and let me know? Thanks.
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).