Of trust, toughness and the athlete of the year
The ball can actually move
Side-to-side, that is. In Toronto’s offence. We know it can, we saw it in the first half and parts of the third quarter yesterday.
Want to know why?
It didn’t happen all the time but it did happen a lot and it was when they put Kyle Lowry off the ball to start half court sets.
Now, I’m not laying this all on Lowry at all but he does have a tendency to dominate the ball far too much. Getting them into an offence that doesn’t immediately start with him handling the ball worked quite well the few times I saw it Sunday afternoon.
Yes, he does have to have it in his hands a bit but he seemed far more comfortable moving it on when he was the second or third touch.
As we know, there is a level of Hero Ball to this team when things start going south; it’s funny that they forget what worked so well early in a game.
I know it doesn’t really count because it was just one game but there was a welcome level of feistiness to these guys Sunday, wasn’t there?
Saw the nice Kleiza elbow to Blake Griffin, Valanciunas hit some people and even Bargnani – yes, Andrea Bargnani – gave as good as he got in the post.
It was, to grab a word from the distant past, a nice “disposition” to see and something we haven’t seen in a long while.
Now, I’m not suggesting they’ve turned some imaginary corner or anything like that or will be known forever as thugs but that’s the kind of physical play – sneaky and open – that they need.
It could have just been than they were collectively fed up with what’s going on, which is another big step in the process of salvaging something out of this season.
So where from here?
Wish I knew.
I do think they still need to make some kind of change – to the starting lineup, the rotation, the roster – and I’d hope that three good quarters against a very good thing isn’t some kind of Fool’s Gold for them.
It’s interesting, in the wake of Bryan’s weekend public pronouncements, that the overwhelming feeling I got from public and private conversations is that everyone is taking their fair share of blame.
No it’s not strictly a talent issue because there is more than enough talent to have won more than four games.
No it’s not strictly a systems issue because we’ve seen those systems work for extended periods of time, just not often enough.
I think, at the very heart of the matter, it’s a trust issue.
And that’s entirely down the chain and might not be surprising.
Now, I’m not saying that people don’t like each other or think they are being undermined or anything like that; I think it takes time to develop trust that the general manager will get the right players, the coach will use them correctly and that the players trust the coach will use them right and their teammates will treat team right.
It’s something that absolutely takes time; with this team it’s taken too long.
Big day back at Mother Star.
Some of the Wisest Minds In Canadian Sports will sit around a board table and decide the winner of the Lou Marsh Award and probably drink coffee and eat bon-bons and whatever other delights are available.
Has to be Christine Sinclair?
Probably, and we all wrote about it when she was becoming one of the best stories of the London Olympics, but if I know my colleagues and friends, there will be some discussion about other possibilities.
Sinclair, of course, was in many ways an un-Canadian Canadian at the Games. She was tough and wanted to win at all costs, she spoke her mind, ripped officials and was one of the best players on a good team that captured the attention of the country.
I would suspect she will win, and likely with little contention and it will be an excellent choice.
But I’m going to give you one other to think about:
If becoming an Athlete Of The Year has to do with doing your best when it counts the most, you have to think about My Favourite Trampolinist.
Mock the sport all you want – and I know you want to – but at the most significant event of her career, under the biggest pressure and with the most on the line Rosie MacLennan came up with the best performance of her life and won a gold medal.
That’s incredible to me. She didn’t just win, she won knowing she had to have the performance of her career and nailed. That has to be worth something, right?
But I bet it’s Sinclair and that’s another outstanding choice.
I think I’ve only seen bits of one episode of the seldom-seen TV show Portlandia but it’s got a pretty catchy theme song and since we’re headed there in a couple of hours, why shouldn’t you hear it, too.
It’s about a 100-metre walk from our seats to the press room at the Staples Center.
By the time I’d walked back to dump off my machine at the end of the game and walked back towards the court to go do some locker room interviews, all of the courtside seats had been removed, the basket stanchions had been collapsed, most the Clippers signage around the court was down and that’s how quickly they move to covert it from one Los Angeles team to another.
And at about 4:30 p.m. Pacific time when we walked to find a cab, the Laker court was down and it was like the Clips had never existed.
Of course, since the Clippers are the best team in L.A., that’s not exactly true.
Yes, Jonas is a popular young fellow with Lithuanians on the road; was a group of about 50 waiting for him before the game in L.A. and I can only imagine what it’ll be like in Portland tonight with all the Blazers fans who fondly remember Arvydas Sabonis.
You know what I like about the kid the most, maybe?
He is not jaded yet, he’ll stand and sign autographs and speak to people and every time he sees even a beat grunt, he has to shake hands as a way of greeting.