The start of the weekend mail
Had a bit of an issue with the stuff I got Saturday and late Friday (I inadvertently deleted a file) so this will have to do for now and I promise some bonus mail on Monday or later today.
Enjoy this and we’ll see some of you about 3:30 east this afternoon, right?
Q: Hi Doug. Following up on a subject that was mentioned in Monday's IGBT regarding food/meals/snacks provided to the media. What percentage of arenas provide decent to good/great offerings? You seemed a bit underwhelmed with Denver's menu. Does it tend to be consistent by arena (good/less good)? Or hit and miss? As a food lover myself, these things are of vital interest.
Kate C, Toronto
A: I would say 40 per cent offer what you’d call “good” fare. Most of it is mass-produced dinners that are passable rather than outstanding.
And it’s pretty much the same year to year in every arena; Staples would be among the best, Miami among the worst. We don’t ask for much other than a variety of fresh stuff; Staples always has lot of choices, Miami has pre-fab slop most nights.
But we know who has good dinners and who has stuff we can pass on so we adjust our daily eating habits accordingly. We might pass up a late post-shootaround lunch if we know dinner will be good, we’ll load up on deli sandwiches at 3 p.m. for bad arenas and wait for post-game wings or somesuch. The dietary habits of some grunts leaves a lot to be desired.
Q: Good day Old Friend. I say Old friend because I have been reading your blog and articles for a very long time. So although you don't know me I certainly know alot about you. Kinda weird how that works.
Anyways, just writing to clarify something with regards to the Chiefs playing the game on Sunday. I believe (not certain) that the league left it to the owner whether to play the game or not. And the owner of the team left it up to a vote amongst the players. The player captains voted and decided to play. So although I agree with you that no one should ask of the players to go out there in these circumstances, the choice was left to them and they decided to play.
Just wanted to point that out.
Thx Doug! (Mr. Smith?). What do you prefer for future emails?
Georges B, Ottawa
A: That is a good point that I was unaware of in the immediate aftermath. But I also wonder if there wasn’t some subtle pressure from above since I have been told by friends in Charlotte that the team was told to continue with its travel plans in the very early afternoon on the Saturday. Regardless, I don’t think I would have voted to play.
And I like Old Friend, works for me. And I appreciate the sentiment.
Q: We did get to hear Leonard Cohen at ACC. Wish you'd been there, Doug, if for no other reason to hear poetry at the ACC rather than the insipid music accompanying our Raps point guards as they try to get into their half-court offense. But poetry brings up the question of players as readers and the overall ways coaches connect with players. Phil Jackson gave books to his players as a way to bond with them and show them other ways-ideas. Coach Mike Katz did same with his players at Humber and Univ of Tor. Does this work for the pros? Is a coach going to reach the modern NBA player with this kind of concern for their personal development?
What is the relationship between effective coaching and concern for players? I get the feeling Pop in San Antonio will receive lots back from the four vets he was concerned with when he gave them a day off the schedule.
Charles N, Toronto
A: I honestly believe that the good coaches treat the men they are in charge of like men; and it varies on how they do that. The relationship is often dicey, though, because it would take a while for a coach to understand which players need to be coddled and which need to be challenged. I guess it’s not unlike real life, where you need to know how to get the most out of your employees and I also truly believe all employees are not created equal and you treat more valuable workers a bit differently.
I think books would work with some players but some would say “what is this” and be lost. It takes a good coach to know which player is worth the effort.
As for Mike Katz, one of the great basketball minds in Canada, I understand there was a great event for him a couple of weeks ago. I missed it but he remains one of the all-time greats I’ve come across in the game in Canada.
Q: Hey Doug. Sekou Smith said that Kobe is "Top five on most people’s list and in everyone’s top 10.". Do you agree? Where is he for you?
David S, Calgary
A: This is one of the great debates in the game, isn’t it?
You have to put Jordan, Robertson, Russell, Abdul-Jabbar and maybe Wilt in the top five, no?
And what about Larry Bird? Or Elgin Baylor? Or a few others you can probably guess.
Today? Today I have Kobe in the top 10 for sure but I can’t figure out whether he’s No. 6 or 8 or 9 or 4.
Nice conversation on stools, though.
Q: They say it never rains in southern California. Is this true? Lots of talk of opportunity, though.
Assuming New Orleans is going to give the Hornets name back to Charlotte, will Utah help out the anti-pelican lobby and give the Jazz name back to N.O.?
How about The Raptors changing their name to The Huskies? Maybe it would change their fortunes. The guy could give up the chicken suit and become Sgt. Preston, or even better, Sgt. Renfrew and Cuddles (Dave Broadfoot reference)
Bob E, Kanata
A: What? No Dudley Do-Right? Imagine the logos!
Q: Hi I Love your blog and column, thanks so much for the great job you do. I will greatly miss it if and when I have to subscribe for it.
Thanks so much.
Gerald B, Mill Cove, NB
A: There’s no indication now that will be the case. Let’s see how things play out whenever it is in 2013 that things change.
But thanks for the kind words.
Q: Question regarding weight training. Was here watching an excellent game by Mike Petrius, and they spoke of him being in the gym in the morning.
Now, most people I know cannot fathom lifting weights the day they are supposed to shoot a ball (makes you all gimpy), but we hear NBA Players who have excellent workout regimes, which includes lifting during their game days.
Without the usual answer that athletes are simply better than us, and that they are freaks of nature to be able to recover.
How do they really pull this off I wonder?
Atif K, North York
A: Well, it’s not like they do some Lou Ferrigno workout an hour before any game. Mostly it’s to get the body working, to work up a sweat and get the juices flowing, so to speak.
Just like when you see guys riding stationary bikes during a game, it’s just keeping the body going.
Oh, and they are a bit super human compared to many of us mortals.
Q: I have a question, but first: Oh, woe is me. I hold tickets for the season to watch at team that sucks . . . again, another year, every year since I bought those tickets! We hear lots of excuses: one night it's attention to detail, another it's spacing, a third it's the big Italian that went 4 for 20 without playing defense, sometimes its injuries, or "we just have to play for 48 minutes" -- too often it's all of them. Despite all of this, players with marginal talent or (unfulfilled) promise get big, long-term contracts. It seems that players, the GM, maybe even the coaches all live inside a bubble and act from a sense of entitlement, or a state of perpetual rebuilding.
Here's the question. Do you agree that there is no real accountability -- true mutual accountability -- for producing results in the organization? What is your prescription?
JP B, Ottawa
A: I disagree. There is accountability, just not impatience. And obviously not to the level that some fans want; sorry abut that, but that’s the way it is.
Dwane is accountable to Bryan, Bryan is accountable to his bosses on the board, it’s just that, as most prudent businessmen do, they realize that throwing everything away and starting over all the time might not be the best idea. But, trust me, when things go bad, underlings hear from their bosses, they just don’t make it public all the time.
Q: Hi Doug: I don't have a question regarding the Raps but I was hoping you could shed some light on Myck Kabongo's issue with the NCAA. From my understanding he is currently practicing with the team but is ineligible to play in any games due to the NCAA's investigation. This has been going on for some time. When will the governing body make a decision on him?
Curtis R, Stouffville
A: I wish I could shed some light. The issue is a visit he took to Cleveland, I believe, and who funded it and the NCAA, in its infinite wisdom, is dragging its feet with it’s “investigation.” Talking to some people out here this week, there is no indication when any resolution will be coming.
It’s got to be killing the kid, and hampering his development
Q: Hi Doug. I remember reading a few months/years ago that Andrea Bargnani had started the process towards becoming a Canadian citizen. Any word on where that stands? Seems like the public (including myself) can't get him out of town quick enough. Any chance we can expect to see Il Mago lining up for the Red & White at an international event anytime soon?
Come to think of it, wasn't Matt Bonner trying to get his citizenship as well? Any word on that?
John M, Toronto
A: Not sure about any citizenship status but Bargnani’s already played for Italy, Canada is out.
As for Bonner? Process is ongoing but his days as an international possibility have come and gone. He’s getting older, has other things in his life and that ship has probably sailed.
Q: Hi Doug. Enjoyed reading your column on Masai Ujiri. While reading the kind words that Bryan Colangelo had to say about him, I realized that I haven't really heard him talk much/be quoted in the media at all this year. In fact, he seems to have really reduced his visibility this year compared to previous years. Can you shed some light on why this may be?
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: He’s been around, actually. Some of us talk frequently to him in short spurts, just to check and see what’s going on and there’s no news.
But on the two major issues so far this season: DeMar DeRozan’s contract extension and the brutal start, he’s been out there talking quite publicly. He made it a point to come by practice to chat with Mike Ganter and I on Saturday in LA and stood there and took questions about DeRozan for as long as we wanted the day after that deal was struck.
But I, nor any other self-respecting beat grunt, is going to pester him once or twice a week for no reason other than to make ourselves feel good. If there’s a need to talk, he does.
Q: Hi Doug. Simple question today. Who are Gumby, Stumpy and the First Lady of the Beat? I've been guessing but have no idea. Thanks.
Dave M, Puslinch
A: Those are closely held secrets but if you read the other paper that travels regularly and the People’s Wire Service, you can probably figure it out.
Q: Hello Doug. I read something interesting in Tuesday's Star (via Griff) that should be of interest to people who believe there is some geographical reason why the Raptors don't attract free agents. I have never believed this myself, having lived through the Blue Jays glory years (players wanted to come here) and the period before that when we we not the top of the foodchain (players didn't want to come here):
“I’ve had (Jays) players call me and say, so and so wants to come here, free agents, that’s exciting to see,” Anthopoulos said. “We haven’t won anything or played a game yet, but it’s the attempt to win and be competitive and be a contending team has opened eyes and that’s exciting. There’s definitely been more interest because of the commitment that ownership has made and it’s clear everyone believes we’re trying to move forward and make the club better.”
Players want to win. Yes, they want to get paid, but given their druthers, they want to win and get paid. I know this isn't news to you, but what (again) are your views?
Brian V, Toronto
A: I think it’s simple human nature, isn’t it? We all want the best job for the most money at the most prestigious company in our craft.
Like if someone said I could make a relatively great living at the best paper in the country, I’d jump at it. Oh, wait. I’ve already got that.
But isn’t the bigger question which of those two things would most satisfy you? We can’t all have the money and the success and which do you want to chase? Me, I’d like to chase the success because I think I’d find that more rewarding. And would lead to the other thing; if you made the money but lost consistently or hated work, I think that would be worse, wouldn’t it?
Q: Hi Doug. All signs point to Valanciunas eventually becoming a solid contributor for the Raps (I would be happy with 18 and 10). What do you think should be the team's approach during the off-season? Encourage him to see one of the experts such as Grgurich or Olajuwon, or let him develop at his own pace through gameplay with his national team?
Anson B, Ottawa
A: Dwane actually mentioned this week the possibility of having him work with Olajuwon this summer and as long as someone write a check big enough, it’ll happen. Guess it can’t hurt.
And I’m not sure what’s up this summer for the Lithuanian team outside of qualifying for the 2014 worlds but I’m sure Jonas will be part of that team.
Q: Have told you before but on my ipad2 I have been successful once on IGBT and also can no longer play your embedded YouTube clips.
All started with upgrade to Apples latest operating system IOS 6 and I really am quite disappointed the Star's IT folks have not figured it out.
Enjoy your work and perspective.
Freddy W, Cambridge
A: I don’t know IOS from IOU but will make sure people who do know such things see this.