A league back and worth a look; and a new era dawns in Brooklyn
Not saying you have to see every game but if you go, I’d imagine you’ll find it to be affordable entertainment and basketball at a pretty good level.
And the league seems to be once again doing things the right way – on a smallish scale without any grandiose moves – that connects it with cities like London, Halifax, Moncton, Saint John, Oshawa, Montreal and the new expansion team in Windsor.
Montreal’s the interesting one to me, since we were just there and saw a level of basketball interest that was a bit surprising. It’s also the biggest city the league is in, it’s getting a late start to the season because of some issues in Laval that forced the move to Montreal and there’s going to be some work to do to make sure it survives what could a rocky first season.
But there’s a guy named Pascal Jobin who’s in charge – I know him because he was the TVA analyst when the French network did a handful of Raptors games and we have some mutual basketball friends down there – and I’m pretty sure he’ll make it work, despite just getting started this week.
But, again, it’s a big city with lots of other entertainment options so if you were at the Raptors-Knicks game a couple of weeks ago or care about the game, try to get out to see a NBLC game, I bet you’re pleasantly surprised.
The league, as we said repeatedly last season, knows what it is and knows what it has to be. It’s got to be affordable, family entertainment with a strong local connection. The players, coaches and executives have to get out in their cities and meet people, get to be known, get to be familiar with folks at a kind of personal level.
In Windsor, for instance, they are giving away free tickets for their first game – an outstanding idea – because if people see it, I know they’ll like it.
A pro basketball league in Canada is important, it gives Canadian kids a place to play and make money, and it promotes the game where it needs promoting and that can’t be a bad thing at any level.
I’m sort of looking forward to getting back to Oshawa and London and down to Windsor at some time this season to do a bit more writing about the league, was always good time last year, I expect it to be the same now.
Considering where I’m going today, how cool is this?
I don’t presume too many of you saw it but the Argo-Ticat game last night was a doozy, 43-40 Toronto on a last-play field goal that sealed Hamilton’s fate.
And I don’t presume too many of you saw it – or Chad Owens eclipse a Pinball record for most yards in a season – because you were watching was I’m told was a somewhat boring NFL game.
Sure, last shot.
Going to do it today or tomorrow morning and get it up then so we can do the regular fare here Sunday morning after the Nets game.
I’m told it took the Miami Heat three hours to get from the airport to Manhattan yesterday after they arrived for tonight’s game at the Garden against the Knicks.
Not only does that worry me about my own travel (have never gone from LaGuardia to Brooklyn so I’m really going into this blind) but it also makes me wonder – again – about the prudence of even playing games this weekend in the storm-ravaged city.
Despite I’m sure the best efforts of every cleanup crew working, it just seems too overwhelming and I honestly think the NBA should have given the city – and the city should have demanded – the weekend to get things right.
Can’t wait to join it, although I would imagine I won’t be venturing too far from the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott tonight and that’s only about a mile, I’m told, from the Barclay’s Center.
Wish me luck.
But it will be something to see, first time we’ve been in the first game for a new arena, let alone the first real game for a team in a new city.
I presume Jay-Z will stop by to say hello and I’d think Beyonce would want to see how things are going with her favourite grunt.
(I’m told they’re famous music people and that you’ll get the reference).
But I also know Dwane’s a bit worried about the electricity in the air – if there is real electricity in the wake of Sandy – because the Nets are good enough without a boost from a crowd.
And after watching them for years in the morgue-like environs of the Meadowlands and then Newark, it’ll be shocking to see them actually have a big crowd legitimately cheering for them.
I know we’ve got some Expos fans out there and they had to be bit shaken if they heard the news yesterday that Pascual Perez was found murdered after an apparent home invasion.
I never covered Perez but I did know people who did and he was legitimately zany and wildly interesting. Not a great pitcher but a great story and one of the kind of “characters” that pro sports is missing these days. Sure, he had his demons, many of them and that’s truly sad, but he was something else.
Griff knew him pretty well and this is a helluva column and there was this story back in the day from Sports Illustrated that I remember making me laugh out loud.