A great honour, a great player and the great Canadian payback
Sometimes we’re a bit too quick to bestow legendary or iconic status on the men and women in the sports world, we put them on pedestals without thought to time or context and elevate them to places in our mind and lore that are unjustified every now and then.
I can safely say this is not the case with a man who received, posthumously sadly, one of the great honours in basketball yesterday.
You know me and Halls of Fame and how sometimes people go in who are on the side of unworthy, right?
Well, word yesterday that Jack Donohue would be part of FIBA’s 2013 Hall of Fame induction class (the details and the rest of an impressive class are here) was as welcome as a long and relaxing lunch on a sunny patio.
He is, and I can say this quite safely, more The Father of Basketball in Canada more than any other man or woman is responsible for the growth of any game here at any time in our history.
He coached teams and cajoled business for support, he put the game on the map through tireless work and a true of the sport and his adopted country.
He is the trunk of the tree that grows mightily today; his reach and impact on the growth of the game here began with a small group, but those whose lives he touched went on to set in place the foundation that today has Canada on the precipice of an unprecedented era in the game.
Jack was basketball in Canada.
Not sure when the first time was that I saw Jack, it was probably at some speaking engagement because he would do a million of them. To promote the game and publicize his team and let Canadians know that basketball existed, he would go anywhere anyone would have him.
He’d do the Optimist Clubs and Rotary Clubs and Lions Clubs and youth groups and big rooms and small ones. He’d tell hilarious stories about growing up in New York and coaching there, he was a raconteur of the first order.
And he would preach the game and teamwork and the need for individuals to work toward a common goal, valuable lessons that transcended the game.
Jack was a great, great man; this is a rich honour well deserved and somewhere I know he’s sitting around making people laugh with great stories.
Mighty Navy Tigers win a laugher, it’s John Fogerty’s birthday I heard somewhere so …
And from a guy who patrol the outer garden as a no-hit, good-field, two-tool backup, that’s not a bad little ditty.
Hey, you know how Tim Leiweke was all over the Canadian angle to the Raptors last week and turning the team into a national phenomenon or something like that?
Well, we’ll delve far more into that maybe tomorrow or the next day because I do have some thoughts on the issue but whoever’s in charge of letting him know what’s in the media today needs to point this out:
GO TO NEWFOUNDLAND.
You want to foster some goodwill out there? Pay back those good people who had a big game ripped away from them, a vow made that the Raptors would come back that turned out to be empty.
And make the New York Knicks and Glen Grunwald, who was part of that fiasco in a tiny way, go there and play you in an exhibition game.
I don’t care how much it costs or what part of the Knicks travel money you’d have to fork over but you’ve got to do it and it should be among the first “Canadian” things you do.
Ask around the office, someone will tell you why it’s necessary and long overdue. I know the 2013 pre-season’s set and it might not be possible to do it this year; it has to be Job No. 1 in your quest to “build the brand” coast-to-coast.
I know nothing about anything but I am of a certain vintage and this may or may not be apropos but why do I think the last few days in the inner sanctum of the Toronto Mayor’s office is like an extended Watergate Saturday night massacre?
No, the stakes are not as high and the personalities not as important in the grand scheme of things but, still …
(And, yes, it will take IOACV to know that one; you young ‘uns google Archibald Cox)
Fair amount of work to do today if Masai does the right thing and decides to come; an afternoon to hide in an office, I’d say.
Anyone got anywhere?
Tell me again how old Tim Duncan is?
He’s 37 you say?
Well, if he is – and he was the oldest guy on the court during the Western Conference final that ended so shockingly quickly last night – he’s certainly not acting like it.
I don’t know how many times in the four game series that I saw him beat every other big man down the court for an easy basket and it was interesting to hear rational as to why?
Some people were busting on both Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph for being out-run by a relatively old man (and I know how weird that sounds but in that industry, 37 is geriatric) and there’s some validity to that argument.
But I like to think of it from the other angle, that it speaks to Duncan’s effort, determination and conditioning more than anything.
I think it’s too cliché and trite to suggest someone we talk about as Duncan can be considered under-rated – and many will make that point between now and whenever the NBA Finals conclude – because his place among the game’s pantheon by those who pay close attention to it is cemented.
This argument, or discussion, will rage at sometime in the next fortnight: Is Duncan the best power forward in the history of the game?
Not sure but the list certainly isn’t long: It’s Kevin McHale, Karl Malone and Duncan, maybe. Bob Pettit and Dave DeBusschere are probably on the list; if you’ve got George Mikan as a power forward he can’t be forgotten, that’s for sure. Elvin Hayes? Likely.
But Duncan is there, right there, and he’s a treat to watch at 37, beating the kids down the floor, defending Randolph to near perfection and leading the Spurs back to another championship series.
Never thought they’d sweep the Grizzlies and I don’t imagine many did, it’s going to be fun to see them rested and ready to take another run at another title.