A good reason to appreciate good players
Got a quick note from the HOTH yesterday that kind of warmed the heart and got me headed down Memory Lane a wee bit.
The one and only Mo Pete, as beloved as Raptor as there’s ever been and may ever be, is being inducted in the Michigan State hall of fame later this week, a final honour for a stellar career that preceded his time in the NBA.
And what I thought about mostly was why Mo seemed to connect with the fans more than just about anyone, what was it about him that made people genuinely like him, want him to succeed, to appreciate him.
And what I came up with was pretty simple and I think strikes at the heart of Toronto – and perhaps even Canadian sports fans – and is something of which we can be proud.
I think we appreciate athletes who are humble, who play hard, who seem to genuinely enjoy their time here and who like some kind of interaction with the fans.
Am I right?
We don’t like braggadocio or people who show off, or athletes with a sense of entitlement that is so common and so off-putting today.
We want honestly good people and nice people and people who don’t go around with some kind of goofy “hey, look at me” attitude.
And there might have been no one who embodied that more than Mo, which is why he was so well thought of.
Just look at the others in the history of the Raptors who might fit that bill:
You’ve got Mo and you’ve got Alvin Williams and you’ve got Matt Bonner and now you’ve got Amir Johnson and I would suggest those four would top the list of “most liked” wouldn’t you?
And I’m fine with that.
Yes, you can probably put Jerome Williams fifth on that list but there was a level of “show” to him that didn’t exist with the other four so I’d have him a distant fifth.
I truly believe that it says many good things about the fans as it does the players. We like good guys and that’s fine.
Now, what also endeared Mo to the people was his penchant for zany shots and plays that will live in memory forever.
The halfcourt heave against Washington that night.
The basket he made with his headband accidentally covering his eyes.
All those contested corner threes at all those important moments in games.
But to me, three moments:
The day he playfully slapped his good friend and former teammate Vince Carter on the side of the head and over-reactive ref Steve Javie misinterpreted it and threw him out of the game. Never saw Mo more disappointed.
The night, and I’ve told this before, when we’re conducting some post-game scrum at the locker next to him, I’ve got my back to Mo right next to him and he starts whispering to me about his discontent at his role. Turned into a really good story I never forgot.
And the best?
The best was his first game back when he ran out to the middle of the court, knelt down and kissed the logo.
Classy. And so Mo.
Oh, I guess the time he did his hair so he looked like sprinter Marion Jones would be up there, too.
And because these guys are tightly connected to one of those guys on that list above, why not some new Arcade Fire?
So Super Son drags me to the big grappling extravaganza down at the Air Canada Centre last night – belated birthday gift and, yes, I might be Dad Of The Year – and the big question is this:
What in the world is going on?
I never felt more like I was simply a member of a studio audience; or even just sitting on my couch watching a show.
It was long – more than three hours – far more theatrical and filled with television commercials than I had expected and while Super Son had himself a blast (at least he said he did) a neophyte was totally confused.
There don’t seem to be any “good” guys and “bad” guys or “baby faces” and “heels” as I think they used to be called, everything seems blurred along those lines.
And for a guy who still misses Bruno Sammartino, Gene Kiniski and the truly olden days, it was quite an evening. Yes, they do fly around and look like they are doing serious damage to themselves and as stuntmen they might be among the best going but it’s way too theatrical. And confusing.
But as long as Super Son had fun, I can survive three hours-plus with 19,000 of my friends in the ACC.
Here’s a tip, though, which my travelling companion noticed when the loud guy was hyping up the audience before the TV portion began:
It’s Sportsnet 360 and not The Score any more; don’t imaging the overlords at Rogers would have appreciated that mistake too much.
It’s gonna feel like it’s 40C here today?
Lunch on a patio sounds really delightful but I’m not sure I can stomach a humidex alert at this time of year.
I don’t know which Evil Empire is screwing with the weather these days, turning it on its ear one day to the next, but they are messing up like never before.
Remember when there used to be what’s called “seasons?”
Kids, you won’t believe this but at one time you’d have winter and it’d be cold, spring and it’d be warmer, summer and it’s be hot and, my personal favourite, fall when it would be cool.
You would not have 17 C one day day and 35 C the next; you might get an October stretch we used to refer to as Indian Summer but you could set your clock, and your calendar, to it.
I just want whichever wizard who’s behind the curtain pulling the levels on the Global Weather Machine to leave us alone and let us get back to the good old days.
Too much to ask?
It is to our great loss that so few were paying attention to European or international basketball in the heyday of the great Brazilian Oscar Schmidt.
He was of the best scorers and players of his era and, judging by his Hall of Fame induction speech (you can see it here, it’s a bit long but it’s really, really good) missing out on interviewing him at the apex of his career is our loss, too.
But I did know he was a good quote because of one of the all-time great lines.
Oscar wasn’t known as a particularly adept or willing passer or screener; teammates could do the dirty work, his job was to score and he knew it. He was asked once about it, about why he didn’t partake in the secondary parts of offence. His classic line:
“Some people, they play the piano. And some people, they move the piano.”