The end of the weekend mail
Sorry I’m a bit late, folks. Was enjoying a loafing morning here for a change.
Long day ahead; don’t forget to be back around 8 p.m. for the IGBT and a Happy Father’s Day to all.
Q: I'm upset that a couple of the texters on your noon gig yesterday did NOT include Amir as a core player. What's the single top priority of any member of a basketball ball team supposed to be? Winning, period. Which two players were on more than half the winning 5-man units last year? DeMar & Amir, NOT Rudy NOR Kyle! This stuff drives me to the edge, I tell you ...
Can you explain it away for me?
Bo K, Mississauga, ON
A: No, can’t really. And, yes, Amir was a key member and energetic player for a team that won 38 games and missed the playoffs and should be considered part of the group that should be given time to grow together.
I personally think he’ll end up being a very valuable third big who brings energy off the bench if his body holds up.
Q: Hey Doug, love all the "reporting" from all aspects of the final. Going down to Philly and Camden NJ August long weekend for Yestival, a one day festival headlined by Yes, with The Musical Box, Renaissance and Cal Palmer's ELP Legacy. And taking in the Phillies and Braves. In all your trips to the area are there any establishments, food and beverage that should be on our to do list? Oh yeah, any reports how Super Son is doing on the roads back home? Looking forward to the reports the rest of the way. And hopefully the Spurs have the kid back for the Anthem before game 5!
A: Well, I’m not sure where you’re staying but if you’re in downtown Philly, where I tend to stay, the Reading Market is a great spot for lunch, there’s a really good sports bar right under the arch there called The Field House and if you don’t drink Yeungling, we might have issues.
If you can’t get that, Stoudt’s Gold works in a pinch.
If you’re looking upscale at all, The Palm in the Sheraton, I believe it is, has a nice bar to eat in and if Michelle is working and you tell her that Billy King’s friend the sportswriter from Toronto says hello, I’d appreciate that.
Oh, and Second Avenue is always worth a walk to see if you can find a nice eating spot.
Q: You answered a question about not knowing how the Mavs handle the fare for their beat writer. I assumed it didn't matter because the Mavs own their plane. It has their logo on it. The reason I know is I have flown with the team on it. They used to (not sure if they still do) sell dream packages to fly with the team and stay with them in the hotel, watch their shootaround and seats to the game. Prices depend on length (we flew to Minnisota and back) and prices started at $5000 (according to other ppl on the trip). I won a promotion and didn't pay that much. We flew sat at the back of the plane with trainers, therapists, tv ppl etc. Watching Avery Johnson disect the game film of that nights game on the little screens.
A: It matters because no self-respecting newspaper would take some of such value without paying, it would put you in a compromising position. So some money would have to be paid, even if it was, say, a donation per flight or something, to the team’s charitable foundation.
Q: For me, one of the most intriguing things about the hiring of Masai Ujiri is the fact that he tailored his roster to George Karl's style of play.
Assuming Dwane stays the coach and Ujiri similarly tailors the Raptors' roster to him, what does that roster look like - can you name a few players in the league that you view as "Casey-style" guys? Note that I'm not asking you how we would actually get them, because I know you hate trade rumours.
Mike D, Toronto
A: Is it fair to say the Casey-style players are the good ones and he’d take any of them.
But a tough guy like Reggie Evans sure catches his eye, older guys who’ve been around are his type of player but he’s also adaptable and doesn’t want to pigeon-holed.
And as much as I like to come up with five names, I don’t want to go through all the rosters.
So let’s go with Zach Randolph, Dirk, Reggie, and Westbrook.
Q: What ever happened to the days of discussing the pros and cons of a players worthiness to the HOF until after they hang em up? Seems to me (Hello James Gang) media are discussing young talented players and coaches way too early.
Guys who have been playing/coaching 3-4 years (Bosh is excepted, he brought the topic up)
Let's see their whole body of work before bestowing post career honours. My goodness. It's a 5 year window from date of retirement. Do you know how many stools that is?
A: I’m with you 100 per cent on that; my eyes glaze over when anyone talks about 20-somethings as Hall of Famers.
With the way the Spurs are shooting threes I am getting really tired of the ABC announcer hitting from downtown. Seems this all all backward. If you think about the metaphor, 'downtown' is in the paint where the player density is highest and most of the action is. A three pointer is made from the suburbs. Swirsky had it right.
A: Semantics. Think Swirsky ever really got out salami and cheese? And didn’t he used to say from downtown somewhere?
I guess technically, you have a point; but … Well, I got nothing.
Q: Hey Doug
Did you see in the fourth quarter of game 4 when Cory Joseph tried to force a pass into the post that was broken up by a hustling, sprawling Chris Bosh? Do you think Joseph can be forgiven for this mistake? I mean, he's only 21 and he's from Toronto - which means he's never seen Bosh willing to play defense like that.
To borrow a line from you,I keed, I keed. (But there is a grain of truth, no?)
A: Bosh was outstanding at both ends of the floor in Game 4, as good as I can remember him in a very, very long time. The slide across the floor with not much time left in a blowout was totally out of character.
Q: Hi Doug: I read recently that George Karl wanted an extension on his contract otherwise he would be a lame duck coach. I've heard this term before. My question is do you feel that there is any truth that players won't play as hard for a coach on the last year of his contract or is it just an excuse that many coaches use to sign another multimillion dollar contract and have some job security?
A: No, I don’t. I haven’t seen it personally and think there’s too much at stake for the players, who know how much people talk and how dimly other GMs or coaches would look at a guy who quit.
Now, I’m sure every coach wants the security of a longer-term deal than they have and would use “lame duck” as some sort of negotiation ploy but I think the truly good ones would be secure enough in their own abilities to work on the last year of a deal if they have to.
Q: Hi Doug,
I'd be really curious to hear your compare the 2007 championship with this one. How much better is Lebron, his teammates, his coach? I know you hate hypotheticals, but if Lebron stayed in Cleveland and continued to develop his game the way he has, do you think he'd still be in the mix for the championship? I guess what I'm asking is, how much of Miami's success is a result of Lebron being fantastic, and how much is the rest of the organization? How much is Spoelstra rather than Mike Brown? I wasn't a huge basketball fan in 2007, but I remember a lot of people talking about how unimaginative Brown was.
Also, what does is say about the Spurs that after all these years and essentially the same core of players, they're still right in the mix for a championship? Are they North America's best professional sports organization of the millennium to this point?
One more: what do you think of the finals 2-3-2 format? (Apologies if this has been asked before; I seem to remember you saying it had some advantages for the media, anyway). To me, it seems like that format makes it more difficult for the home team to close out a series on home court, but maybe not.
A: He’s far better, actually. Shoots the ball better and from deeper distance, understands the game a lot more, passes more efficiently and is just smarter overall. It’s simply a matter of experience and personal growth.
Now, could he carry a team with questionable talent like the 2007 Cleveland team did to another Finals? Probably, but it’s impossible to really say.
Spoelstra-Brown? I think Spoelstra has done an outstanding job devising an offence and defence that perfectly suit an abundance of talent. Is he better than Brown? I’ll just say different because I have no idea what Brown would do with this Miami roster.
Q: Hi Doug,
I read somewhere that Sports Illustrated will announce that the NBA Finals between the Suns and the Bulls from 1993 was the best finals series in the last 20 years. If that is true then I must disagree. For me, the finals series between my beloved Jazz and the Bulls in 1998 was the best [the Lakers/Celtics series of 2010 and the Mavericks/Heat of 2011 come close].
So my questions for you is this: what do you think was the best NBA finals series in the past 20 years?
A: Of the ones I’ve been at and followed closely, I’ll take either of the Bulls-Jazz, the Spurs-Pistons one that went seven games and the Boson-L.A. seven-gamer as well.
Q: Hi Doug,
Seeing all these big names leave Toronto, I'm wondering from the business aspect, does our income tax in Ontario/Canada play a role in keeping these players away? I saw an article regarding LeBron James going to Miami and "made a sacrifice" on salary.. whereas the truth is there's not state tax and he actually benefited more earning from tax-free endorsement income.
Any insights into this?
A: Who left?
Taxes have nothing to do with it; they are easily manageable with good financial advice and while they used to scare off some players who were looking for excuses, they are no longer an issue.
The Raptors make that abundantly clear to all agents and players every year.
Q: Hi Doug,
The price of coaching young people and watching games with your kids is that they ask a lot of questions that you don't normally think of and can't answer! Here are a couple I will pass on in the event that you can help (or maybe you can corner a referee in one of those lobby lounges you see them in):
If you shoot and you're fouled and miss (or make) the shot, does the miss count in your shooting percentage? What about if you make it?
If you shoot and you're fouled and is it possible to have a goaltending on the continuation if someone blocks it? I've seen a continuation shot batted away but I've never seen a goaltending call.
Last one: if you are fouled in the act of shooting at the buzzer, does your continuation carry through past the buzzer?
Hope you're having a good time but I also truly hope you are able to come straight home from San Antonio because the Series is over!
A: A missed shot on a foul is not a field goal attempt; yes, you can have a goaltending call on a continuation play and yes, if the shot is released before the buzzer, anything that happens in the play counts.