The end of the weekend mail, sort of
A confluence of events – flight back from Montreal, desire to make dinner for Super Son and Super Wife, early night because of an early flight to L.A. – conspired against me getting all the mail done.
So you read this while I fly and I’ll get to the dozen or so other questions – some lists, newspaper paywalls, all kinds of fun stuff – when I’m either in the air or on the ground out there and we’ll get some bonus mail up later.
Have a good day.
Q: Hi Doug. Time was it was the NFL that had the reputation of being the 'no fun league' but according to what I've read today, perhaps that moniker should be passed along to the NBA. It seems the league has put a limit on the amount of time players can shake hands, perform routines, dance moves and even skits before the game begins. The time players can now entertain the fans with routines that in some cases were perhaps getting into the territory of being eligible for Tony Award nominations is limited to 90 seconds post player introductions.
Now, I seem to recall that we'd all mock some of this stuff on the IGBT. And I also seem to recall that there was also some disgruntlement by a certain someone (okay, YOU!) that it potentially compromised writers being able to file their stories on time.
So, Doug: truth! Was it the PBWA that petitioned the league to make this rule change. And if so, what's next on your association's agenda? Decibel levels in arenas? Seriously, how do you feel about this rule change and is it true that a team contravening the time limit gets a technical? Doesn't that seem a bit harsh to you? Thank you. And Cheers! (which are sent to you without time-wasting dance moves and below 15 dB)
Lorie P, London
A: I wish it was us, would give us credit for improving the pre-game period but, alas, we don’t hold that kind of power.
Actually, the handshakes, hugs, high fives, dance routines, pantomimes, love-ins weren’t too too horrible; some of them were kind of fun. Not sure what got the league’s knickers in a knot about them but limiting them to 90 seconds is probably better than banning them all together.
And not a technical foul but a delay of game warning; and if you get two in a game, then it’s a technical.
Think there’ve been two or three assessed already and I did hear that an official through the ball up for an opening tip while Kevin Durant was still fist-bumping his teammates the other night. That would get a coach’s attention, I’m sure.
Q: Hi Doug. My question deals with the LA Lakers and their ability to constantly retool with superstars. Is that simply a matter of the owners willing to spend above and beyond other teams and pay the luxury tax? I find it quite fascinating that the Lakers have only missed the playoffs 5 times in the 64 year history. With the Lakers having to deal with the same rules as the other 29 teams, what makes them be a playoff contender year in and year out, and have superstars constantly sign with them? Even the Celtics were bad in the 90s.
Dave R, Toronto
A: Well-managed with deep-pocketed owners willing to spend is probably the easiest way to explain it. But they also have made wise draft choices (getting Kobe in a pre-arranged trade at No. 13 was pretty smart), had cap room at key moments (Shaq), bamboozled other teams (Pau) and accumulated assets to turn into other assets (Bynum going out in the Howard deal made it possible). They’ve had a pretty good run, indeed, but you can’t point to one specific reason for it alone.
Q: In your opinion, what is the biggest stumbling block for the Raptors playing one regular season game in Montreal and Vancouver per year. I can think of several pros and few cons.
Looking forward to Friday. Montreal's passion for basketball should be on display.
Ted S, Montreal
A: Outside of the ticketing issue with season ticket holders and any travel issues that may pop up for the visiting team, I can’t see a reason not to, to tell you the truth. They play games in London, England, for goodness sake. And I recall Boston used to play a game or two in Hartford, I believe; and I think Utah or the Lakers or someone went to Vegas once or twice.
But I guess the poobahs in New York are trying to “grow” the game in Europe more than, say, Montreal or Vancouver.
And the passion on Friday was excellent to see; we’ll have more on it in the usual fare Monday but it was an excellent night all around.
Q: Doug. So now we have an absurd wave of attention to what LeBron James is going to do two years from now!!! Good grief. Of all the major North American professional sports leagues, none compares to the NBA for fan/media attention to off-season moves. At times I wonder if many fans wouldn't rather talk about the off-season than watch actual games. For these people the regular season and the playoffs simply serve as a testing ground for what future moves should be made. Why do you think NBA fans are so caught up in speculation about the future?
Joe S, Kingston
A: I wish I knew. I guess it can be partially chalked up to the free agent frenzy and the hope that some star will move to “your” team sometime in the future. The way the league operates compared to others in North American kind of lends itself to that ridiculous, time-wasting speculation.
Frankly, it all bores me to tears and I pay scant attention to any of it. Yawn and move on until something real happens.
Q: Bonjour! I arrived to work and as my usual routine called your daily blog up on the 'puter. As I am sure is a complete coincidence, the gist of your missive deals almost directly with what I had been thinking about on the drive to work. There had been discussion last season regarding the lack of preparatory time that Dwane had with the team, given the shortened season and this year I have found myself wondering why they seem to have regressed on the D end, which given the full preseason one (IMO) would expect to be considerably more finely honed. So after having read the blog this am, why is it that the players are able to give less than their full attention to the preparation and still expect to progress as a team? Should not the "culture" around the team encourage, nay demand, full participation in a specifically laid out plan to improve the team's result? Or, perhaps, everyone sees the length of the regular season as time enough.
Thanks for what you do,
Doug T, Brantford
PS. have spent a lot of time debating paywalls this week. Creates quite a dilemna actually. Will be interseting to see how everything evolves.
A: It should demand that but, like all employees, I can see them getting a bit bored with the routine and that’s when attention wanes. Athletes tend to live for real, live competition and try as you might, you cannot get that in four or five practices in a week. It’s like overloading them with the mundane and minds wander. That said, they are getting better as the season approaches, guess the edge that impending games that matter helps.
And I wonder about paywalls, too.
Q: Was watching the A-Rod bikini hunt with dismay, but it did bring to mind all types of distractions that are undoubtedly brought to professional athletes every game. In your mind, are there any 'Romeos of the hard court', past or present who have shown to be easily distracted by off court diversions?
K M, Huntsville
P.S. Agree 100% with Magloire's value as a continued Raptor - as a motivator and mentor. Enjoy your work. Thanks Doug
A: Not easily distracted but if you’re at a game, or TV shows the huddle during timeouts, watch to see which, if any, players are actually looking up in the stands rather than listening intently to the coach. It happens. Now, I’ve heard – not seen, but heard – of players sending ballboys with notes to fans of the femaie persuasion during games, not all the time but every now and then. But it’s always been players not actually in the game but those who are getting a rest.
Q: What would you consider the most difficult/stressful situation for a player to win an important game in when the game is on the line and little to no time is left on the clock?
Would it be a kicker who needs to get a field goal in football? Perhaps a closer in baseball needing an out? A free throw shooter in basketball, or a goalie trying to stop a puck/ball in overtime or a shootout, in either hockey or soccer?
S S, Newmarket
A: Man, that’s a tough one because they’re all about the same, aren’t they? All of ‘em are dependent on the actions of other: field goal snapper and holder, guy taking the hockey or soccer shootout shot, the hitter for the closer.
If you’re looking at one guy doing one thing and depending solely on himself, has to be the basketball, doesn’t it? It’s you, the ball, the basket; no other outside influences from the game like in the other scenarios.
But they are all pressure-filled and I’m not sure you can say one is “harder” than the others.
Q: Doug. I am a season ticket holder and have watched all the pre-season games thus far. I see Jonus Valanciunas setting screens at the top of the key without hesitation and with abundance in the last couple of games. I have seen him recieve a pass on the roll down only a couple of times. Is this due to him being a rookie (Inexperienced)? New teammates? Jonus not rolling properly?
I expect that Jonus' touches rolling to the hoop will increase as the season goes on but how long will it take? The idea of Jonus receiving that pass in the paint then making a choice to go to the bucket or throw it out to the wing for an open shot excites me.
Mike H, Toronto
A: No clue how long it’ll take but since I got this before the Montreal game and he’d had precisely one game with Lowry and two with Calderon, I’d say we need to give ‘em a chance to figure things out. It’ll come, trust me on that. When? Impossible to say but sooner, rather than later. Of course, once teams get a scouting report on him and realize what he does best, it might be a bit harder to do consistently, those pesky NBA defenders have a way of guarding things well
Q: Hi Doug. You keep saying that the pre-season is way too long. After watching the games, it looks like the Raps don’t quite have it together, and are still working on lots.
Why aren’t the Raps (and other teams) doing better by this point in the pre-season if they don’t need the extra time?
A: They are doing better than they were at the start and I truly believe that if the games meant something, the concentration level would go up. Pre-season games are, to tell you the truth, boring to the players in a lot of respects. They don’t need more time, they need time that matters.
Q: Next season a more punitive salary cap comes into effect. One aspect of this cap is an escalating cost for teams that are consistently into the tax threshold for up to five years. Question: when this kicks in – will it take into consideration the first two years under this CBA. For example the LA Lakers have been in the Tax for the last two years, so will next year be year one for the Lakers – or year 3?
Kevin F, Hillsburgh
A: Year One as far as I can glean from people here. Same with everyone else in the same boat.