Good afternoon, everyone.
Hope all's well.
Good afternoon, everyone.
Hope all's well.
Okay, folks, same dilemma as last week.
I got a bunch of these done with all great intentions to finish up on Saturday until I discovered I needed a break from thinking and working.
So have at these, there’ll be more – and some good ones – later on tonight because I have about a zillion loads of laundry to get at, some tape to transcribe for a couple of stories and other things that were on my mind.
See some of you around 3:30 this afternoon, right?
Q: Hello...It seems Tiger plunked one in a patron's cup at Augusta. The revealing fact is that beer is only $ 3.00 a cup at The Masters.
Any chance a Toronto sporting event would sell the stuff for $ 3.00? When was the last time you had a cheap beer at a sporting event?
How about all leagues have a game to honour # 42 once a year?
Will the Dinos have a new point guard next year? Will AB be at their training camp? Just threw those last two queries in there for fun...and consternation
Bob E, Kanata
A: Cheap beer at a sporting event? What’s that old saying?
A story: A buddy of mine goes to a Raptors game and he figures it’s time for a beer. He orders, hands guy a $20 and gets back a couple of coins. He says to the guy: “I think you made a mistake, I gave you a $20.”
Dude looks at him with the “yeah, right” glare and moves on to the next customer.
Some kind of Robinson honour would be excellent sports-wide, it’s going to be interesting this afternoon to see Jerry Stackhouse representing Brooklyn and wearing No. 42, won’t it?
Yeah, consternation, indeed. Don’t really need/want it at the moment, there’s months for it to percolate.
Q: Doug, as the season winds down a grab-bag of questions come to mind.
First, a couple of playoffs related questions: Do you think the Lakers can grab the last spot in the West in light of Kobe Bryant's injury? Also, with Toronto the only team in their division missing the playoffs, I was wondering if every team in a division has ever made the NBA playoffs with the current format in place?
As for the Raptors, do you think Sebastian Telfair comes back next season? Finally, if I want to catch one last game at the ACC, would you recommend the Boston or Brooklyn game?
Thanks for your coverage throughout the season.
Bill G, North York
A: In light of Friday, I’d say there’s a slim – very slim – chance the Lakers hold on.
And under the current format, no division has ever sent every team to the post-season.
I doubt Telfair will be back, at least that’s the sense I’m getting right now; there are other fish to fry roster-wise but if he does return, I think it’s as a last-resort.
Yikes. Hate to try to tell a person how to spend their money but I’d guess today’s game will be better but you’d have a better chance at getting some token gift on Wednesday.
If it was Super Son, I’d tell him to go this afternoon.
Q: Always enjoy the read Doug. Here's the question: can you play 'arm-chair GM' for a moment? It's the end of another season without a sniff at the playoffs and you need to decide if the team's going in the right direction or not. Do you A. re-build (or re-tool) again or B. stay the course around the current core?
Related 'arm-chair owner' question. Has Colangelo done enough in your/their estimation to keep his job for another year or is time to break with him and give someone else a shot. If the owners do that, what would be the top 3 issues for the new GM to address? Thanks for the great stuff.
A: I don’t mind the core, actually, and if you talk about moving out four or five rotation players, you get into a vicious circle of always wondering if you’ve got the mix right. I think this mix – the five starters – needs to grow together.
But you’re always re-tooling, every team in the league is looking to make moves to get better, it’s no different for good teams or bad. New York did it this year with Kidd, Prigioni and Felton, Miami with a couple of additions to the end of the rotation and Oklahoma City did it with Martin over Harden.
And, yes, I think Bryan has done enough to put the team on a track that he should get the final year of his contract picked up.
Q: I think you missed one, perhaps intentionally and that is Jose & Ed. I believe this one will be one of the last huge blunders by Colangelo. Calderon was the heart and soul of the franchise and the one PG who could get the most out of a healthy Bargs. Ed was only just beginning to blossom and given the right circumstances will become a good one!
Toronto should be looking at the character of a team as well as asset value. Sometimes you are better off taking care of the quality assets you possess.
PS: I used to wish we didn't have a franchise here in the west because I was a Raptor fan who didn't want to live with "black-outs". Now, bring on a western franchise......the sooner the better. Until Colangelo goes this franchise is doomed. My guess is that if he stays Casey goes. Casey is making mistakes but he has the right philosophy and needs better coaches around him.
Thanks for all your great work. You are my constant link to the Raptors.
A: I agree entirely that character and fit have to be taken into consideration when compiling a roster; it’s not the end all and be all but it is important.
There is no question they miss the character of both the players they dealt away, it remains to be seen how the fit is with the current group, I’m not sure they’ve had long enough yet.
And, yes, bring on another western team, I miss the road trip a lot.
Was trying to figure out if you could have an NBA team (all-time) made up of guys who changed their names as adults. We have Kareem, Mehta, and World B, which is actually a pretty good start for a team. Can you add any, I have one more in the back of my head but it isn't coming forward?
A: I don’t suppose you count (H)Akeem Olajuwon or Nene (Hilario), do you?
But how about Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf? He was a far better player than Chris Jackson, wasn’t he? Except for the whole “not standing for the anthems” thing.
All together now:
Three. Six. Twelve.
Oh yeah, sorry I’m late, stuff going on. We’ll be better
Mr. Tough Guy
So I wander up to DeMar DeRozan in the locker room after the game and say:
“Didn’t know you were a goon.”
He laughed, of course, but his little set-to with Rip Hamilton that finished with Hamilton getting thrown out for what looked like a forearm to DeRozan’s face was something we hadn’t seen before and something quite welcome.
DeRozan had been in Hamilton’s chest most of the night, letting him know there’d be no space to operate and, as Dwane put it after the game, “getting them frustrated instead of us getting frustrated.”
If there is one troubling trait that this group has displayed over the past, oh I dunno, eight years, it’s that it can be pushed around a little bit. It’s not that they won’t stand up for themselves, it’s just that they don’t react as forcefully, or force the issue physically, nearly enough.
And it’s not that DeRozan did anything dirty or untoward, he was just playing hard and aggressive and they need a little bit more of that from time to time, if for no other reason that to send a signal to the rest of the league that they’ll be the ones hitting instead of being hit.
Sure, Game 78 is too late and it’s something that has to be present from the start of the season but they saw it could be done, and should be done.
Yep, you’re gonna love Quincy Acy if his game keeps developing, no doubt about it.
His teammates already do.
In that conversation with DeMar, it was pointed out that Acy was there quick as a flash to act perhaps not as an intermediary but as someone who was there to help.
Don’t think the players didn’t notice – “We know he’s always got our back,” was how DeRozan put it – and don’t think it elevates Acy to a significant spot in the roster pecking order.
Now, his game needs some work; if he’s going to be a three-four in small lineups, he’s going to have to develop some kind of shooting range to go with his rebounding and defensive abilities.
I do think he’ll end up being a good fourth “big” on a good team but it’s only going to happen if he can contribute more on the offensive end of the court.
Does it matter?
I was talking to someone after the game and it was suggested these wins – the two last week, back-to-back over Chicago – don’t mean anything.
In the context of the whole season? Probably not. There’s a feeling that we’re living a repeat of the 9-2 finish or whatever it was in Jay’s interim year where too many people looked over too many flaws by getting caught up in the strongish finish.
There’s an inherent danger in that, you think you’re better than you are and flaws can be overlooked and I’d hope that everybody connected with the franchise realizes that. It’s important.
But in the smaller context it doesn’t matter who plays for you or them, it’s always, always, always better to win that to lose and if some of these guys get a good feeling in their heads after a couple of late-season victories, good on them.
Okay, when you go down the list of the guys who make you howl Of A Certain Vintage, you had Rodney Dangerfield at the top – of that there can be no dispute – but the most under-rated?
I’ve got Jonathan Winters, don’t you?
Man, what a night.
I go to sit on a stool and wait for The First Lady Of The Beat and Not Grace to get done their scribbling and look up just in time to see Jose Reyes crumple to the ground in Kansas City.
Not as gruesome an injury as we’ve seen but since he’s the best player on the team it’s got the possibility of being a crippling blow.
And then I’m watching over my shoulder when Kobe Bryant blows out his Achilles and now you have wonder if his career is over, to say nothing of his season.
Now, I will never, ever doubt Bryant’s resolve so to suggest he’ll never be back is folly but that was one horrible stretch of time for sports fans.
Regardless of how you feel about athletes – whether you think you like them as men or women and whether or not you cheer for the teams they play for – no one ever wants to see anyone writhing in pain with their futures – short and long term – in doubt.
That was a terrible night for fans of sports.
Yeah, need some. Probably be sitting around all afternoon with little to do and since I have to stay up to fetch Super Son at work late the evening will be free, too.
So help a fella out, would you?
Talk to you soon.
You want to talk about people with what seems an overwhelming sense of self-importance and a stickler nature that doesn’t take common sense into consideration?
Read this by Perk about the dude at the Masters who tried to screw up the best part of the tournament to date, the 14-year-old amateur tot from China.
Look, I’ve talked to more than my share of golfers over the years and the constant complaint is about slow play and it can be nauseating to watch at times. Club changes, six or seven tests of wind speed and direction, plum-bobbing three-footers dead up hill and tracking long putts from ever conceivable angle. It’s a terrible blight on the game.
Common sense, folks. Common sense and an equitable applications of the rules would be a good idea, no?
Good evening, all.
I like to think the league that I cover is the leader, probably worldwide, in a lot of societal aspects.
It’s got a great track record for minority hirings in positions of authority, its charitable endeavours and global initiatives get to the heart of some significant issues, it is truly an inclusive organization that should be proud of what it does and should be held up as a beacon to the other North American professional leagues.
Now, I understand a lot of its worldwide efforts come because of basketball’s popularity around the world, it dwarfs hockey and football and baseball so it’s logical that the NBA would reach out to Asia and Africa and Europe a bit more.
But there was a story that caught my eye yesterday that shows the pucks are doing the same kind of thing and should be lauded.
The NHL and its players association have struck an agreement with the You Can Play Project, the advocacy group that fights homophobia in sports.
The news is here and it should be welcomed by all; it formalizes what’s already been in practice and that’s a good step.
The NBA is already aligned with Athlete Ally and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, those groups provide educational sessions as part of the league’s rookie orientation program last year and this and it’s another huge step in the right direction.
Professional sports is a powerful vehicle in our society, they reach people across all economic and social strata and we’re not talking just about players, coaches and team officials who can and will benefit from formalized programs to fight discrimination simply because of sexual preference.
Fans – the most important group because their lives are far more normal and likely to include contact with gay and lesbian groups. They need to know that the people they look up to, the athletes they admire, are more than willing to be open and accepting of others, regardless of their lifestyles.
Sports has come a long way in this regard – the Neanderthals are being weeded out and enlightened by educational programs and peer pressure – and the NHL’s move yesterday and the NBA’s continued educational programs are moving the needle in the right direction quickly.
It may not be quickly enough – this is an awareness process that is going to take time – but each step is important in creating a more open and accepting society.
Good on them.
I’m sure someone out there will like this, not sure you all will, but for some reason I can’t quite pick out from the deep, dark recesses of my mind, this came into my head yesterday.
Yeah, it’s The Cure.
Vote early, vote often?
Nah, probably can’t get away with that since everything’s done electronically and pretty well tracked but it’s almost time to cast the post-season ballots for the NBA awards.
For some reason known only to the administrators at the league office I have votes in all seven categories – MPV, rookie, coach, defensive player, most improved, sixth man and the three all-NBA teams – and if I had to vote yesterday, here’s how I would have done it, as the Nothin’ But Net main suggests.
But I will tell you this, in all but MVP and rookie, there were probably five or six potential winners in each category; I’ve been involved in this in some way for about the last 10 or 12 years and I can’t think of a year where so many players or coaches could legitimately win so many awards.
I think I got them right but who knows.
Please. It’s email@example.com and while there was some yesterday, there’s always room for more.
And I have to congratulate you; it’s been at least two weeks since I’ve been inundated with Andrea Bargnani questions. Well done.
Okay, if you’ve been here often enough you’ll know that I think Vin Scully is the gold standard for every broadcaster in the world.
A wonderfully under-stated manner, the ability to weave stories in and out of games without distracting from the action at hand; a calm, soothing presence in a business populated by far, far, far too many screamers who think they’re a larger part of the event than they actually are.
And this is long and I apologize for that but if you’ve got 10 minutes listen to Scully do a one-man play-by-play of a Dodger-Padres brawl and tell me who else in the world could have pulled it off with such class and understated perfection.
Others would be yelling and chatting over each other in multi-broadcaster booths; Scully would have none of that.
It’s a classic.
Well, they’re banged up as this little item from yesterday’s practice mentions but I did see Valanciunas headed to a signing session well after practice was done and he was neck brace-free and his usual jovial self so that was a good sign.
And since he’s become much more a force on the court, you have to hope he plays the last four games so the folks can see him three more times at home.
He’s become something to watch, as Dwane pointed out.
“He shrinks the floor, we’re playing inside-out a little bit more and the defence has to compact a little bit and that opens up Rudy and DeMar on the perimeter a little bit more, and Kyle.
“He’s doing a good job of finding people once the defence does collapse so it’s an umbrella effect but it all starts with JV having the confidence and the respect of the defence.
“To this point, his growth in the last month and half has been tremendous.”
I’d say it was a pretty inspired draft pick, wouldn’t you?
Go back at look at who was behind him two seasons ago and ask, right now and I know it’s early, that you’d rather have on the team you cheer for.
Yes, IGBT thing tonight, Not Grace is scribbling the gory game details but we’ll be around just before 7 p.m. for all the fun and frivolity as this season continues to wind down to the time when the real work begins.
It’s been a couple of days now that I’ve been trying to figure out just what it is about The Masters that makes it so special because it is one of those annual sports events like Wimbledon or the U.S. Open that you just have to pay attention to, even if you’re just a casual fan.
It’s not the depth of the field because there are too many non-contenders; there are probably half a dozen or more events in the summer that have better fields.
It’s certainly not the sappy and syrupy announcers because that’s the one thing that might drive me away from the coverage. I get it that the azaleas are pretty and that there’s tradition to uphold but if I hear Jim Nance wax poetic much more about Augusta I might barf. Really, it’s too too too over the top.
And it’s not like it’s an Open Championship test of golf, the course is, basically, rough free and not all that challenging in many respects.
And it is absolutely not the history of the club with its exclusionary history and questionable treatment of minorities and women. That is Augusta’s shame and I get it entirely that private clubs can invite as members anyone they want and don’t have to defend their practice to anyone because, well, because they’re private.
So what it is it?
Just that it’s a right of spring? A sign of better days ahead with sun and green grass and flowers and all that annual season renewal crap?
Is it that you never know who might shoot 30 on the back nine on Sunday or who might shoot 40 and because each of those chances exists the tournament is always in doubt until late that afternoon?
Is it Tiger? Or the unknown guy who hangs around until Sunday morning against all odds before fading back into oblivion? Is it the old dudes taking the ceremonial first tee shot that evokes memories of past greats?
I don’t know but there is something magical about it in a lot of ways and it’s one of those events you just pay attention to. Isn’t it?
But I’m going to tell you one thing about the Masters that will never, ever leave my mind.
Mike Weir’s win, a decade ago.
Now, full disclosure, Mike’s a friend of mine, our families are friends, we’ve known each other for decades so there’s that to take into consideration.
I will say, though, that when it comes to great Canadian sports moments of the last half century or so, that has to rank right up there in the top three doesn’t it?
Even people who paid no attention to the sport were caught up in it; it was a great, galvanizing moment for Canadian sports and one of the greatest individual accomplishments by one of our own of all time.
That it’s 10 years ago stuns me because I can remember sitting on the couch riveted to the final few holes and getting a bit terse with Super Son, just a tot at the time, because he was standing in front of the TV mimicking the pressure packed putt on 18 on the Sunday and I couldn’t see.
Ten years ago?
Man, time flies.
And if you can see this, you should.
Caught a bit of it last night and it looks outstanding.
So Super Wife and Super Sister-In-Law-To-Be go motoring down the highway to Hamilton last night while I’m sitting in the Cawthra auditorium getting the low-down on a Super Son journey to Philly next week.
Yeah, I’d rather have been listening to these guys, too. But you do what you gotta do, I guess.
And, yes, it is a bit hard to believe that Great Big Sea is on its 20th anniversary tour.
I am officially old.
Sure, it’s a bit rainy and there’s a storm warning here and whoever is screwing with the weather had better stop it or I’m going to be miffed but it’s really, really that time of yearn now:
Yep, I’m talking to a friend the other day and we come to the conclusion that the less you wear socks the cooler the person you are.
And we all want to be cool, right?
Besides, who doesn’t like a little ankle?
Wish I had something but it was a dead quiet day yesterday and after we got the little Valanciunas update, all that was left to do was sit out the inevitable flight delay – thanks, United! – and try to figure out how the last week of the regular season will go for them and can they avoid the ignominy of another 50-loss season.
It’s not that big a deal but there is something about looking a record and seeing 48 or 49 losses that doesn’t make it as bad as the big, fat 5-0.
I don’t know that they can win three of their last four because there are some pretty solid opponents in Chicago, Brooklyn, Atlanta and Boston. Of course, we have no clue who’ll actually end up playing for each team because playoff matchups are getting set and there could actually be a Chicago-Atlanta tank-fest to see who can fall to sixth and avoid Miami until the conference finals, perhaps.
But we also don’t know who’ll end up playing for Toronto, either, since the little story said that Valanciunas will be re-evaluated today and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts the report is that he’s going to see how he feels tomorrow before anyone will know if he’ll play.
That, my ticket-buying friends, is about the best you can hope for and would be a bit better, I’d guess, than hearing that he’s definitely out.
Okay, tiny amount of mail yesterday, need more hellos and stuff so it’s at firstname.lastname@example.org please and thank you.
Okay, all together now …
Four. Eight. Sixteen.
Tiny collisions between big fellas
It’s hard to explain unless you’ve been right up close to a game – like front row or second row close – but the speed and physical nature of these guys is something to behold.
The way they hit and bang doesn’t really translate to television, I don’t think; these are thick, strong, fit young men who are unprotected by any padding and when they slam into each other, you notice it.
And then there’s the subtle kind of collisions like the one that Jonas Valanciunas and Rudy Gay were involved in last night that ended up with Valanciunas spending the night in a Chicago hospital.
Subtle but you’re talking about a 7-foot, 250-pound guy hitting a 6-8 and 230 and even if it wasn’t at full speed, that’s two rather gigantic men colliding.
I’m surprised, a bit, that there aren’t more injuries because these guys are huge and go at a pretty high speed.
And, no, we have no update on Valanciunas other than it was going to take too long to get test results last night to hold the team charter so he stayed behind and will likely get home to Toronto today.
And with the team off, it’s going to be late this afternoon, at the earliest, before we get any update.
Good move out of necessity
So it’s a two-point game in the final 30 seconds or so after a Bulls basket and I’m kind of thankful because a timeout as to be coming and it’ll give me a chance to catch my breath and chat with the people.
For the first time I can remember they didn’t call a timeout, they got the ball up the court, DeMar was fouled and the game played out.
And then I check and, yep, they only had one timeout left and Dwane needed to keep it in case they needed a last-second shot or something like that so the move was made out of necessity more than anything.
Too bad because I’m all in favour of letting them play, in part because it doesn’t allow the defence to get rested and set and a bit of helter-skelter play isn’t all that bad sometimes.
In the right hands
Yes, Kyle didn’t have a bad game at all (he’s actually finishing the season strongly) but there were far too many times as they were spitting up that 16-point lead that someone other than the point guard had the ball in his hands to get it up the court.
Gay at least twice, DeRozan once and at those times, Lowry has to demand the ball, bring some calm to the team, get things organized and settle everyone down.
It’s one of his failings and something he has to work on.
There’s always more.
When I rule the travel world – which cannot come soon enough – here’s what I’d have, besides more wall outlets in every hotel room so I could find a place to plug in an iron.
Every hotel room needs to have one of those little guides that tells you what station is where on the TV dial, I hate having to shuffle through 50 stations to find something I want.
If I know TNT is here and USA is there and ESPN is over there, I can move around the cable system; if I have to go station to station, who knows what I’ll miss because there are commercials on.
Sure, we did this at the start of the IGBT last night but what the heck, lots of you wouldn’t have seen it and if you did, there’s never too much Francis Albert.
So how about those Lakers, eh?
The league’s longest-running soap opera is lurching to its dramatic end – at least for the regular season – and now I’m of two entirely different minds about the fate I hope befalls them.
Yes, it would be nice to see them get into the playoffs so we can hear about how dangerous they are as a No. 8 seed and I guess that’d be fun.
(Although they have done nothing at all to suggest they’d be anything other than an easy out for either the Spurs or Thunder and those who think otherwise haven’t been paying much attention to the teams L.A. is beating)
But I think in some strange way it’d be better if they faded and didn’t make it, that would seem to be a fitting end to the sorry saga of The Super Team That Wasn’t.
Rain and ice pellets back home? Weather warning? What in tarnation is going on back there, people? But while you’ve got some time because there’s no reason to go out, start your visit to the mail bag: It’s email@example.com and you don’t have to have any secret codes or passwords to get involved.
So, it’s getting to be decision time around here. The e-mail arrived from the league last week with the ballots for the annual regular season awards and I have a vote in all seven of the categories.
And aside from LeBron James being the MVP – and if it’s not unanimous or almost unanimous we’re going to have some issues with my voting confreres – I think this might be the toughest year to make the calls.
And, yes, I’ll share them but it’s going to be more difficult than it’s been in a long time.
Okay, I hear the weather back home is crap, it’s foggy and gloomy here so wish me luck on the Air Canada flight back home.
I think I’ll need it.
Thanks for coming.
Boy, some of you got pretty riled up with the Babcock/Hammond thing yesterday, didn’t you?
Was just a thought/comment that seemed timely since I saw John for the first time in a while the other night.
But since you liked that …
What, pray tell, have been the four mostly ownership/management mistakes of the past decade or so? And I’m only going back that far because before that, the franchise was basically irrelevant.
So, whatcha got?
I’ve got these, in no particular order.
Firing Glen Grunwald
Made no sense, it wasn’t necessary and it started things on a terribly slippery slope into oblivion for a while.
Glen had to put up with KO as his coach – a hire that had as much to do with the wishes of people above him than anything else – and the team wasn’t that bad at all.
There was no reason to do it.
Trading Vince Carter
In no small part because of the horrible package they got but also because ONE NIGHT EARLIER Carter had spoken to his coaches in an attempt to work things out for the better.
One night earlier!!!
It wasn’t as if the team was horrible, it wasn’t as if the deadline was upon them and they had to do something quick to fix an entirely unworkable situation.
It was a panic move, pure and simple, or a move to teach the kid a lesson or something like that; it was ridiculous because he was, at that time, one of the biggest assets they had and they minimized it.
Gave it away.
Having no roster replacement in place made it even more shockingly bad.
Drafting Rafael Araujo
This might be the most ridiculous of them all.
If they feared, or knew, there might be an issue with Vince and the new general manager, wouldn’t drafting someone who might eventually replace him make the most sense?
Guy like, oh, I dunno, Andre Iguodala, just to have some insurance?
Take the big guy who could not play because a consultant thought Araujo was a throwback to the Pistons Bad Boy era, even if that era was dead and gone. And everyone knew it.
Letting Bosh walk for nothing
The situation was misread, in large part – and this is the absolute truth – because Bosh was less than honest with management and ownership and they believed him.
Now, they tried to move him – they were willing to take back the atrocious Baron Davis contract from the Clippers along with a draft pick for Bosh and L.A. said no – but they needed to be more proactive, as it turns out.
Now, I’m going to hear all day about Jermaine O’Neal and Shawn Marion and I’m sure Jason Kapono but those moves were all defensible when they were made and I’d rather have a proactive guy in charge than one who makes what turn out to be mistakes and can’t fix them.
Each, on its own, made sense.
Turk was the best free agent of a summer and decided to come to Toronto; that he was coddled at his first camp a bit and never warmed to his teammates or his coach or his situation couldn’t be known.
Marion was a rental, pure and simple.
Kapono? Guy didn’t make a shot but no one could have seen that coming.
They were blips, those other four were egregious mistakes that truly set the franchise back many steps.
Got some right here.
So, was the basketball game any good?
Let me guess.
Lots of missed shots, shoddy officiating, over-coaching except they don’t run any plays and lots of syrupy commentary about the heart of the kids and the drama of the tournament.
Did I get it right?
And, you know, I feel terrible for the kid Ware from Louisville, it was as gruesome a broken leg suffered on TV in a big game than I’ve seen and in this day and age, it became an international sensation.
It’s a broken leg, he’ll be back, doctors fix broken legs all the time and the four kazillion shots of him on the broadcast last night was too much.
No, that’s not heartless, it’s just me.
Now, I don’t have an opinion on the politics at all but in my era, I can’t think of a stronger – and polarizing – national leader than Margaret Thatcher.
We should mourn her passing, I don’t know that we’ll see another one like her.
But isn’t strong and polarizing what we want in our leaders? There was no wishy-washy, no bend, no compromising to her; she had principles and stuck to them and even if you didn’t agree with them, you had to respect the resolve.
To me, that’s leadership. And I think it might be in short supply around the world these days.
Oh, and check out my friend Mighty’s obit, it’s really good.
Oh, and RIP Annette, too.
Not nearly as socially significant as Lady Thatcher but …
So the lads practiced at Loyola University here yesterday – the Lakeshore campus as we found out after walking aimlessly around the Water Tower downtown campus looking for the gym – and that’s three colleges we’ve been at this year.
And obviously I’d rank them UCLA first by a mile, Loyola and then George Washington but Not Grace and Gumby talked glowingly about Georgetown, a trip I missed.
So, what’d they do?
Back to basis, Dwane said.
“We want to go out to compete to win but the main thing is our approach, our execution, working on our zone, working on our pick-and-roll defence, all those things that are going to be our staples next year going into the season. (We’re) treating these last couple of weeks like a mini-camp so to speak.”
It’s after the game in Miiwaukee on Saturday night and I’m waking down the hall to the Raptors locker room to see what’s up and I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in too long.
And the first thing that came to mind – even before congratulating him for getting the Bucks to the playoffs was:
What if the Raptors hadn’t screwed up so many years ago when they had the chance to hire Hammond?
What if they hadn’t blown it by going through a ridiculous process of whittling a large group to four only to say they were going to open up the process again only to come back to the same four and eventually picking Rob Babcock.
The four – Babcock, Jeff Weltman, Mark Warkentien and Tony DiLeo (remember that Gang of Four?) – were basically underwhelming at that time and that the Raptors – and I am pointing a finger directly at Richard Peddie – didn’t even deign to interview Hammond, who was the No. 1 man to Joe Dumars in Deroit at the time, was a shocking blown opportunity.
John wanted the job and deserved to have a shot at it; the short-sightedness of Peddie and his people set the franchise back years, so far that they might still be digging out almost a decade later.
Look, you all know that I understand completely that nothing in professional sports is linear, you can’t say with certainty that if this had happened, that would have happened and this other thing would have happened and the future would have been differently.
However, I can say, with the utmost confidence, that the course of Raptors history would be incredibly different if they had at least the sense to interview Hammond and offer him a job he wanted so many years ago.
Of course, I go to “if ifs and buts were candies and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas” but seeing John and chatting with him briefly made me realize what a blown opportunity it was way back then.
The fact I’d spoken briefly to Rob the night before in Minneapolis had sent me down memory lane, talking to John on Saturday made the trip a bit more wistful.
No, I was not glued to a TV last night watching the crooners at the Country Music Awards but when decompression was needed after that Saturday night carnage in Milwaukee it did mean a visit to Buck Bradley’s, the usual post-game haunt.
And as Jimbo The Bartender and I are reminiscing about legendary Grunts who’ve been on the same stools, this comes on the juke box.
It wasn’t exactly the most picturesque ride in the history of transportation but the train between Milwaukee and Chicago is easy, quick and now I’m trying to figure out how I can do more next season.
It’s downtown to downtown, no Institutionalized Security Paranoia to deal with and you can get up and walk around if you want to.
And since your bag never leaves your sight, Amtrak can’t lose it.
Now, I’ve mentioned before that I think the Davis Cup has lost a lot of its allure and that a team event for an individual sport is somehow odd but, by all reports, Milos Raonic and the rest of them captured the imagination of even casual sports fan back home.
And that’s pretty cool.
I’m not the biggest tennis fan in the world, that’s for sure; my interest generally lies in the final weekends of the Grand Slams. But I am a fan of sports and compelling stories and history and I think even the most short-sighted among you need to realize what was accomplished on the weekend.
Now, I understand that vagaries of scheduling given the individual pursuits these athletes have to make but isn’t it too bad that we’ll have to wait until September to see the semifinals of the Davis Cup?
Maybe not, actually.
Isn’t part of what made the weekend special the fact that big events like that don’t come around too often? It’s not like we get to cheer for Canada every couple of weeks or even every month so when they do play, the focus is even more intense.
Whatever, I can probably say this for the first time in my life: I wish I’d been able to see Canada’s tennis team play on the weekend.
Can’t recall ever sitting in a sports bar surrounded by 40 or so televisions and asking the dude at the door to switch one from a Sunday night baseball game to a women’s university basketball game.
Yep. Sure did.
That’s what covering the Canadian team will do to a guy, that and a compelling story of Notre Dame and Connecticut meeting for the fourth time this season.
Now, the play was far from crisp – I think Notre Dame shot a Raptors-like 30 per cent or something like that – but it was fun to watch Natalie Achonwa again and, besides, the 312 was quite tasty.
I honestly don’t care one lick about the college game tonight but since the NBA has ceded the night to the kids, I’ll be watching and I just hope the kid from Mississauga makes a shot or two so I can brag.
And guess I’d like to see Michigan win, if only to make Jalen happy.
Over and under on the number of times we see cutaway shots to The Fab Five is a dozen.
Doug Smith has been a sportswriter for more than 30 years, a journey that's included seven Olympic Games, numerous and varied championships and more dreary regular season games than he'd care to remember. Here, he'll talk about them all, as well as current events and pop culture. (Just don’t ask him about music nowadays — it's not his cup of tea).