The end of the weekend mail
I might have shut this down a bit early Saturday because there was stuff to do and a game to watch and people to see. But there are all kinds here and if I see any more in the queue I’ll get to them as I can.
Enjoy the day.
Q: Hello Mr. Smith, 2 questions
Is there any ex players that have stayed in contact with you over the years? Some that you check up on or they check up on you?
For some reason I always seemed compelled by the stories of ex-athletes going broke, I know the leagues have symposiums on this but it doesn’t seem to be stopping the amount of times it seems to happen, have they changed there approach in this regard? And when are the players eligible to get a pension?
Big fan of your work from la belle province
A: Former players that I’d just cold call to see what was up and say hello? Not really. If I hear they’ve done something or something good has happened I might text congratulations but that’s about it. It is nice to run into any of the dozens still involved in the game during the course of a season and catch up but that’s about it.
The NBA pension plan is one of the best in sports, players are vested after three years and it can be lucrative.
And there is nothing that can be done about players blowing through untold millions. There are programs available to them through the league and the union while they are playing and after they retire; agents should also be providing long-term planning but you can’t teach or reach everybody and at some point, it’s a matter of personal responsibility. Too bad, but that’s just the way the world works, I’m afraid; some people just cannot stand prosperity, in pro sports and real life.
Q Doug it sounds like you were watching the tennis as a fan, perhaps pulling for Pospisil? Let's say next year Damien Cox cannot cover the Rogers Cup and you are parachuted in. Would you be able to turn off the fan for your stories or is that not as important in a sport like tennis?
Mike K, London
A: Oh, sure I could. And it was far more a case of the compelling nature of the story that attracted me Thursday than any great rooting interest.
Q: Hi Doug,
My apologies if this has been addressed before, but after hearing Butch Carter on the McCown show this week it made me think: Why hasn't he received another chance? I know there was an issue with him angling for a GM job (or something, it was so long ago), but he got results.
Wouldn't some teams in the league think that he would be a good addition at some point? Can a reputation destroy a career that bad? Is it that he's been away from the game for too long?
Just hearing him on the radio reminded me that he seemed to be pretty good (at least from a young adult fan that many moons ago) and it surprises me that he has not shown up again.
A: I think some team should have long before now. I do know right after he left Toronto there were some business opportunities that he wanted to explore and did. I also know he was a finalist for the Orlando job that Jacque Vaughn got (the Magic made a mistake) and was among the finalists for the Detroit job that Lawrence Frank got.
So it wasn’t so much reputation as timing and the thoughts of others that have kept him away.
But he’s an excellent coach and some team would be wise to hire him.
Q: Dear Doug,
I have gotten over the emotional trauma of being dissed by you in reply to my question about why people were so gaga over the Lakers and the Blue Jays. My therapist says I am ready to ask another question now. (okay just kidding but you could have put a little thought into that reply).
You and I are from about the same vintage and from the same area, you from Niagara Falls and I from Welland. In our days in High School we had some great basketball players around. There was Jay Triano of course, but also Phil Tamburino who helped us win the double AA OFSAA championship in 1976 (Windsor Lowe won the triple championship that year and we played them twice in tournaments and split the games). Notre Dame had Tom Skerlak and there was also the Rick Plato fellow from Ridgeway I think. I saw some great basketball in those days. Were you a fan then? Did you ever watch some of those guys then? Did that inspire you to become a sports journalist? If not, what were the course of events that brought you into sports journalism?
Richard G, Milton, Ontario
A: Saw? I played against a bunch of those guys in high school (Stamford, best school down there) and also played with some St. Catharines guys for a couple of years at the University of Welland; a really good point guard Dan (can’t remember his last name but it’ll come to me) and a big man from Port Colborne, if memory serves.
But as for inspiration, they really had nothing to do with it. It happened because mono had knocked me out of Grade 14 and I was killing a summer doing nothing when I saw an add for a college journalism program that had 100 per cent placement and I figured I could write a bit so took a shot.
Some would say it was a pretty wise move; some would disagree.
Q: Hello Doug,
A couple of totally unrelated thoughts bouncing around my head. Let's call them "Art and the Art of the International Game".
Now we're used to (and enjoy reading) your restaurant, bar, saloon, roadhouse recommendations from your time spent on the road, but recently (and I think one was in answer to a question from an Irregular about places of interest in Philadelphia, and I can't recall the other city) you advised readers to visit art galleries. I found that both interesting and impressive that not only you go to galleries, but that apparently you like doing so! So I wonder if you'd share your favourite painting(s) or artist or style of art....(are you more Monet than Modigliani? Primitivism or Pointillism? Or my favourite: Matisse and those wild Fauves?!) or do you go to galleries to get away from the madding crowd and find a place of quiet contemplation? Which is also good. And very cool.
And I didn't get to see very much of the Canada - Jamaica game last night, but while I was watching I heard Leo say more than once that the younger players on the Canadian squad would have to 'learn the international game'.
Did he mean rules? style of play? getting to know their opposition? Thank you.
And many happy returns to your Super Son. Seventeen years old. Seems like only last week you were talking about him watching SpongeBob SquarePants.
Guess that's no longer a thing at Casa Doug, eh? Makes us all feel a bit old. :)
Lorie P, London
A: Spongebob might not be a thing for him but if I’m flipping through the dial and see it …
Now, before anyone gets the wrong idea, I don’t get to galleries on every trip, that would be so un-me it’s not funny. But Chicago, Philly, New York, San Francisco do provide a nice respite if there’s an afternoon free of work or stools.
As for style? I’m all about the impressionists, to tell you the truth. There are a couple of posters and prints Monet, Renoir and, I think, a Cezanne on the walls of Casa Doug.
As for the differences and what takes the most getting used to, I’d say it’s the style of play with the rules a close second. The game is rougher and shorter, far less isolation-oriented and it takes some time to be familiar with it.
Q: Greetings Mr Smith
Trusting that you have been able to enjoy some lazy and hazy summer days, staggeringly the Ex opens next week(!) the HOTH's return can not be that far behind.
So the big kerfuffle over some Russian law. Certainly from most perspectives, repugnant intent behind the legislation, however I am failing to see what either moving the event(beyond the sheer logistical impossibility that moving it now would be) or boycotting the Games would gain for anybody. In the event that Games participants or tourists would face some legitimate safety worries I could then understand prudence guiding a decison to stay away however I also feel that there is still a magic that happens when the world comes together and within that an educational process may unfold that does more to forward the interests of those in our societies for whom there exists a prejudice based on ignorance.
Curious as to your take.
As always, thanks for what you do
Doug from B-ford
A: I think my take is pretty much exactly the same as yours.
I don’t for a second think boycotts work (moving the Games is so utterly impossible from a logistics point at this time it’s not worth wasting breath over) because all boycotts do is punish the athletes who have worked so diligently to get the chance to perform on the world stage.
I think the only way to possibly enlighten such backwards thinkers as those who enacted and support those Russian laws is to be there and in their face and show them the stupidity of their ideals.
But I also realize that some minds are so closed they cannot or will not accept logic or reality so the educational process will be long and hard and cannot stop at the Olympics.
Q: Greetings Doug,
I hope you're enjoying the summer. I've noticed recently on the various sports websites that they are reviewing (over, and over, and over) again the effect that Wayne Gretzky's trade had on the NHL and hockey in general, especially in the US. I was wondering, are there any sports stories from the past that you would be interested in revisiting and why.
A: Oh, there’s all kinds of “anniversary” stories I try to re-visit as often as possible and while I don’t think I read a word or watched a second of the Gretzky stuff, I can see its historical significance.
My personal ones? Jackie Robinson, Magic Johnson and his fight with HIV come quickly to mind, Canada Day is not sports but is right on that list.
And I try to hit in some way the biggies every year because people need to be reminded of how we got to where we are today.
Q: Just the other day I read an AP story that James was called up for jury duty, and he went, and then wasn't called.
Perhaps a less important story could be written, but I can't think of one.
Next news item: LeBron drinks a glass of water. What is this? It certainly doesn't seem like basketball news in any case.
A: It’s not news at any level imaginable but it speaks the bane of our existence in these days when anything a celebrity does is treated as significant at some level. I’ve somehow found a way to block all that crap out of my mind and I’d suggest every other right-thinking human do the same thing.
Q: Hi Doug
A question prefaced with a brief observation.
In watching my kid's sports (and having played sports myself) I have observed that there are certain skills that with hard work can be improved upon however there is a certain amount of natural ability that really separates the stars and very good players. Some people seem to have "hands" (essentially great hand/eye coordination which would be beneficial to an athlete playing baseball, basketball and hockey to name just a few) while others who might work hundreds of more hours on a skill than a star and never get to an elite level. From a Raptor perspective lets say Vince versus JYD.
Assuming you agree with that premise on some level do you think DeRozan has perhaps worked extremely hard on his dribble the last few years and has maxed out at his peak ability when it comes to dribbling the basketball?
The reason I asked is last year I was frustrated at times that he would not take it to the basket more but perhaps he is keenly aware that his "handle" is not his strength and therefore his decision making is better than I, and I assume some others, think?
Mike in Hespeler
A: I read something the other night that was fascinating about the cognitive abilities of athletes and how being able to process information with just periphery use of the brain allows some to stand out from others. And that’s absolutely true in every sport, the greats just “know” things more quickly and can go from recognizing what needs to be done to doing it more quickly.
Now, specific to DeRozan, I think he probably realizes his limitations more than people watching do; that, yes, it’s all well and good to think he should be able to beat his man off the dribble more than he does but he understands that defence, and his own skill level, make it an unnecessary risk.
He has vastly improved as a ball handler from his rookie year but to think he’s all of a sudden going to be able to blow by people is folly; he’s not wired that way athletically. I think he can be good but certainly not great.
Q: In reference to my comment in the blog, Dylan Ennis is playing for Jamaica.
Now that he has done this, I believe he can now never play for Canada. Is that correct?
There has also been some hype about Tyler Ennis. Is he Dylan's brother? If so, would you expect him to play for Canada or follow his brother? As Tyler has already played for Canada's U19 team does this make Canada's senior team his only option or can he change teams when he promotes to the senior level?
Dave B Cornwall
A: Yes, he is a brother and having played for one senior national team precludes you from playing for another.
And I think if you legitimately look at the hopes of the two countries in the next decade and figure out which gives you the best chance to play in an Olympics or World Cup, there will no question where Tyler will play. Total no-brainer.
That’s quite aside from the commitment he’s already made to Canada and what esteem he’s held by the people who run the program.
Q: Hi Doug:
Competition for the PG spot with the national team appears to be at an all-time high with veteran members looking over their shoulders at up-and-coming players.
Could you rank the following players in terms of their current skill level and development? Jermaine Anderson, Junior Cadougan, Cory Joseph, Myck Kabongo, Philip Scrubb, Tyler Ennis and Kevin Pangos
(assuming Carl English Andrew Rautins Devoe Joseph, Brady Heslip are shooting-guards)
A: I really can’t, actually. It’s so apples and oranges it’s unfair to them and to me; you have some who have never played a game above the college level to compare with guys who have been in the NBA Finals.
I will only say this: I think the two primary point guards for this Canadian team this year should be Joseph and Cadougan with Anderson also on the roster.
So I guess right now, I’d rank them the top three of the legitimate possibilities, which Pangos and Ennis are not.
Q: Is Joey Graham playing anywhere nowadays?.. I feel like during his tenure he got stuck in Sam Mitchells doghouse... From what I remember he was a small forward built like a brick blank house. Could easily defend his position because of his strength and in today's NBA would probably serve as a power forward in a small ball scenario.
I thought he had a decent mid range jumper and could finish at the rim. Why didn't he make it? Lack of pt lack of commitment from his end. Seemed like a guy with good raw talent and good physical capabilities I was surprised he never panned out. But anyways just wondering if he plays anywhere now?
A: Man, the last I heard about Joey Graham he was playing in Puerto Rico or something like that. Can’t really say I’ve kept close tabs.
And while, yes, he did possess significant athletic attributes that would think he’d be an okay NBA player, he never really developed the instincts or the basketball IQ to be an NBAer.
Not an entire knock, lots of guys don’t, it’s just that Joey was more familiar to fans around these parts.
Q: So Yestival across the Delaware River from Philly was fabulous, but one of the highlights was Yuengling was available everywhere. Every establishment we tried, especially McGillan's, had Yuengling. Saw Liberty Bell, but the highlight of it is the history behind it. Didn't realize the historical significance of Philadelphia before.
So the schedule is out and plans are starting to be formulated in the recess of your mind, besides Yuengling and Philly, what other combinations for the road are you looking forward to? Got to believe Memphis and Beale St. is up there.
Scott M, Ilderton
A: The best trip – by so far it’s not even funny – is early December to Golden State, Phoenix and L.A.
If we play our cards right there will be a night off in San Francisco before the game, and a night off there after the game since there are two days before Phoenix. Then a night off in Phoenix and one in L.A.
All that means is for sure I get to Tomasso’s in San Francisco for the best lasagna I’ve ever had, will for sure have time with my man Jack Armstrong at the Buena Vista and will have an afternoon and evening in Phoenix to land at Pizzeria Bianco.
Doesn’t get much better than that.