A little toughness goes a long way
Hey, guess what I have in my hand?
A BOARDING PASS!!!!
For a real, live flight back home. Hopefully by the time some of you are reading this, I’ll be somewhere in the air headed home.
Anyway, my good friends at Champions at the Indy downtown Marriott have a good enough satellite system so I could watch the game, which kept me away from the Grammys, and a bit more sober.
Showing some grit
Know what I like best about Jonas Valanciunas?
He doesn’t give a crap.
The kid just goes out there and smacks people around if he has to, he takes a smack if he has to, he’s got some toughness we’re just starting to see and he is the least intimidated rookie big man I’ve seen in these parts for a while.
The other night he banged around with the thug Hansbrough and David West, he hit The Other Lopez with at least one hard foul in the second half of Sunday’s game that I can recall and Valanciunas is playing with a level of confidence and aggression that I thought would take a lot longer to develop.
Now, he does still make his fair share of mistake – he could rotate on defence much more quickly and he’s far from mastered the art of setting a solid screen – but mentally, he’s figured out just how physical he has to be.
And if people come at him, he shrugs; like he’s saying: “I’ll take whatever you’ve got; and give as a good as I get.”
Not a bad attitude.
Was the first quarter the most complete quarter Kyle Lowry’s played since he got back?
He looked quicker, more assertive, more decisive and more able to get his own while getting others’ theirs than he has in a long time.
Not sure why but I do know his coaches and teammates appreciated it and it harkened back to the first five or six games of the season.
And he keeps having that kind of impact on the game – particularly the starts to get everyone’s head into the night right off the bat – it’s going to further endear him to everyone.
What they’re saying
Was talking to an Eastern Conference assistant coach on the phone over the weekend – you tend to do a bit more calling, chatting, texting and e-mailing when you’re loafing for two extra days in a strange city – to get his take on some NBA matters.
And once we went through some things that may or may develop into stories, I got around to asking him what he thought of the Gay trade; we hadn’t spoken since it went down.
He said something very interesting, to me at least:
“They’re big. That’s a big, long team now.”
If you think about it, he’s right.
You’ve got Valanciunas and Amir, Bargnani and the very “long” Rudy Gay that you can run through the 4-5 positions and 7-foot Aaron Gray as a serviceable big, if needed.
I wondered if the thought around the league would be that the deal made Toronto more potent offensively; was interesting to hear an assistant’s take on it.
Sure, I’ve got half an hour to kill before we (hopefully) board this baby plane.
So we know there are few – well, there are no – benefits to playing and living in Detroit over playing and living in Toronto so it’s easy to feel at least a bit disappointed for our old friend Jose.
But he gets to hear Martha and the Vandellas at halftime tonight (the Pistons are always trying to juice attendance someone) and she’s no Vanilla Ice.
Okay, we always run into conventions on the road -- the ComicCon one at LAX a few years back was freaky and a bit scary, the tattoo convention in Phoenix or Sacramento a decade or so ago was frightful, the lawyers one in Philly was a tad boring.
And I do remember checking out of the downtown Marriott in Philly with a younger, more single, more adventurous grunt and him being horribly disappointed that we were leaving just as an association of student nurses was starting its annual meeting.
Well, it’s such a big convention city that there were three there this past weekend:
Farm equipment trade show/convention.
About 3,000 fraternity/sorority teens doing something; I have no idea what.
A gathering of, I believe, mid-western Lutherans.
And aside from getting a steakhouse recommendation in San Francisco from a fellow traveller, they were the three most boring conventions/meetings I’ve ever been around.
Not a fez to be seen; nor were there 10 grown men getting out of a small car.
It’s about 5:30 Sunday night, shift change behind the bar at the Champions in the Marriott, same woman who watched me sit on hold with AMEX Travel for TWO FREAKING HOURS Friday night with no resolution to my travel woes and was working Saturday when I had a post-St. Elmo’s nightcap walks in:
“What? You’re still here? You eligible to vote yet?”
I laugh, ruefully; she goes away, pours a Stella, comes back:
“You need this.”
Truer words were never spoke.
I guess I missed all the Grammy stuff (I know, I’m crushed) but I did look up to another TV at one point and wondered why, with all the great music personalities out there, they got the dude from NCIS Los Angeles to host.
Then I read somewhere LL Cool J did a great job; figured he would, he’s good on that under-rated show.
Oh, and way to go Drake! Good on ya.
(He is from Toronto, right?)
PITCHERS AND CATCHERS TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!
Wish me luck on the flight, hopefully I’m in the office just after 9.