A quick start before a lot of travel
Well, folks, it finally got me this time around.
A late game, an early flight and time beat me from the usual fare at the usual time on a usual morning.
So as I begin my “two middle seats because I have no status on Delta” journey from Miami to Atlanta to San Antonio (this is the you-can’t-get-there-from-here Finals) I’m not going to be able to have all the regular stuff up until mid-afternoon.
Here’s a couple little snippets of the weekend, I’ll expand on some game stuff from Texas.
That is a pretty cool new award the NBA came up with, the Twyman-Stokes best teammate award.
In honours one of the great stories in league history - one man's devotion to help a teammate - and in a pro sports world that is far too often about "me, me, me" and "I, I, I" it's important to recognize the best guys in the business.
In a nutshell, here's the story and I'm sure those among you with interweb search skills superior to mine can find more details.
Maurice Stokes falls during a game in 1956 and hits his head, suffering an injury that eventually left him paralyzed. Twyman, his friend and teammate, takes it upon himself to raise the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed for Stokes’s lifelong care.
But it’s more than that, he takes care of his friend, brings him to his home, cares for him, cares about him; it’s a helluva tale that not nearly enough current NBA players – or anyone – knows about.
Chauncey Billups, as good a pick the first ever recipient, said he wasn’t fully aware of the story until he was told he’d won the award.
“I have a family, a wife, and I have three daughters, and I can only imagine the sacrifice that he made at a very young age to bring in a guy that was probably his competitor, and especially in that day and age when the racial division was so prevalent.
“For him to make that sacrifice, it's unbelievable and it's the utmost sacrifice. So for my name to be mentioned with his and anybody else going forward to be mentioned with his, I really don't feel worthy, to be honest with you. It's kind of embarrassing. I do feel like I'm a good teammate, but I haven't had to make that sacrifice.”
And it got me to thinking about teammates and what it means to be a good one and how one should conduct himself. It’s rare that anyone would face the situation Twyman and Stokes did in this day and age – at least you would hope not – but being a good teammate should be an every day thing anyway.
And here’s what I came up with as the three most important attributes you can have:
Play for the other guy
Sam used to use this all the time: Play for the guy sitting next to you and whatever it takes to make his job easier, do it.
Firm, but fair
Don’t be afraid to criticize but do it fairly and with respect and handle things the way you would want them handled.
Know how to read
The situation. Don’t force yourself into an issue, but be there; figure out what’s the best way to handle it, knowing full well that not saying a word sometimes speaks volumes.
What are yours?
Matt Bonner, what a guy.
It’s the first off-day, Friday I guess, and we’re all hanging around waiting for the Spurs to show up, right by where the enter the court, it seems.
I’m sitting there by myself, Matt sees me, wanders over on his way to practice to shake hands and say hello.
He leans over and gives me this:
“Doug, got a question.”
“The people of Toronto? Are they over that hockey game yet?”
I told him about the zombie-like state that so many were in following the Leaves loss and the New Hampshire guy shook his head.
“Yeah, figured it would be like that.”
So, in honour of Matt …