Archive for May, 2009
Sunday, May 31st, 2009
Sunday May 31 2009 – 2:05pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)
Best record in the NBA.
Only 2 losses at home (regular season).
MVP of the league.
Coach of the Year.
On the golf course on May 31 – getting set to watch the Lakers and Magic in the Finals.
From the Browns (Elway – and much more) … to the Indians … to Cavs teams from years gone by (see: MJ/Ehlo) … chalk up this loss for LeBron and Co. as yet another disappointment for the city of Cleveland.
And what comes next for the Cavaliers?
Danny Ferry will surely try to sign James to a contract extension this summer – but does this loss to Orlando push LBJ out the door (to New York?) that much more?
Big Z is 34 and on the decline.
Ben Wallace is hinting at retirement.
Anderson Varejao is a free agent.
And Cleveland – like Toronto (and many other teams in the league) – is starving for a wing to play alongside James as long as he’s still in town. Mo Williams was solid this year and he took some of the load off of LeBron’s shoulders, but clearly the Cavs need more. Orlando just proved that.
Interesting summer ahead for folks in Ohio.
Friday, May 29th, 2009
Friday May 29 2009 – 7:50pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)
I Twittered earlier today that I would consider doing a live blog tonight – during the LA/Denver game …
So I’m going to hold true to that.
At the risk of stealing some of my buddy Doug Smith’s crowd, I will be online tonight during the Lakers and Nuggets. If you want to stop by and submit a question or comment, feel free!
See ya in just over an hour
Thursday, May 28th, 2009
Thursday May 28 2009 - 2:30pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)
The key to last night’s win for LA? Lamar Odom.
He averaged 14.2 PPG and 10.6 REB last season but willingly accepted (begrudgingly or not) a reduced role this season for the betterment of the team. Thus, his numbers took a dip this season (11.4 PPG and 8.2 REB) but he still played a significant part in the Lakers’ 60+ win season.
And though he’s been quiet in this series against the Nuggets (and in the playoffs overall), he woke up in a BIG way last night.
Coming off a 1 for 8 performance in Game 4, Odom torched Denver for 19 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 blocks last night … vaulting LA to a 3-2 series lead.
But that can’t be it for Odom. The Lakers will need that kind of performance again in Game 6 and if LA does move on to the NBA Finals – and a possibly match-up against the Orlando Magic – he’ll be that much more important when facing big, athletic guys like Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu.
1. I hate the rain.
2. I’ve lost my Blue Jay fever.
3. Further to point #2: Cito … stop using Carlson!
4. I’ll take the Pens over the Wings in 7.
5. I can’t wait to watch T.O. and the Bills this year.
Many folks (including me) theorized that an NBA Championship run might entice LeBron James to stay in Cleveland and sign a long-term deal with the Cavs. Forget about the fact that staying would also see him get an extra year on his next contract and a lot more cash; LeBron is going to make so much no matter where he is – through endorsements – that that extra year on a deal probably means little. But a winning team – a CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM – might mean something. The chance to build a dynasty might mean something.
But if Cleveland loses to Orlando … does that give LeBron a little push towards leaving? Does he think: If I can’t win it all with this group – after all the success we had this season – will I ever win here? Should I just start over (in New York?) and have the world at my fingertips both on and off the floor?
BACK ON THE AIR
Be sure to tune in to the “Hoops” show tonight on the Fan 590. Jack Armstrong and I will be on the air from 7:00pm – 9:00pm.
Paul Jones won’t be joining us this week – so Jack and I will have to hold it down on our own. Jonesy will be busy being inducted into the York University Sports Hall of Fame.
Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
Wednesday May 27 2009 – 12:13pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)
TAKE THAT TIGER
I’m a little late in getting to the blog today because I was faaast asleep in an Advil-induced haze; trying to relax my body from yesterday’s 100 Holes of Golf charity tournament for the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Ontario.
I had the pleasure of riding in a cart with Doug Smith (Toronto Star) for the entire day and I’m pleased to announce that I set a personal best this year – plowing through *80* holes in about 7 hours! This was my third year taking part in the charity event … and I had previously tackled 63 holes (2008) and 77 holes (2007) in one day. So 80 now takes the cake – and I’ve set the bar quite high for next year.
Someone in the post-golf dinner claimed to get through 210 holes … and while I know this is all for charity and the number of holes truly means nothing … I’ve gotta question the legitimacy of that 210 claim! Doug can back me on this – cause we golfed together all day: While we may have taken the odd mulligan and re-hit a few balls, and while “gimmies” on the green were in full effect (within about 2 feet) … we hit EVERY ball through 80 holes. Drive, chip, putt … they all were counted and hit. And we played for about 7 hours – stopping for maybe 30 minutes total (for lunch and various coffee and/or bathroom breaks) – and we juuust crammed in 80 holes. I’m doing my best Anderson Varejao on this one and crying foul! I believe Smitty and I played the most holes (legitimately) and I’m standing by that!
We even kept score …
Through 80 holes:
Doug – 264
Eric – 295
SHOCKINGLY, I recorded only three 7′s all day and NO 8′s (normally a common digit for me on the golf course). It was 5′s and 6′s for the most part (though some of those 6′s were on the Par 3′s). I had 13 pars, and no birdies (or eagles, haha).
Speaking of which … here’s how our 80 holes broke down:
40 Par 4′s
38 Par 3′s
2 Par 5′s
The final total for all of the money raised for SBH is not yet known but last year the golf event brought in about $30,000 and members of the board told me this year – based on early returns – they think they well surpassed $30K. Outstanding!
210 vs 80 controversy aside, despite the brutal weather, it was a GREAT day for a GREAT cause and I look forward to playing again next year.
For more information on Spina Bifida and Hyrdocephalus, go to: http://www.sbhao.on.ca/
Speaking of Doug Smith, I’ve gotta give him a virtual high-5 …
He’s the only one (locally and nationally (maybe even internationally)) that I know of that picked the Magic to knock-off the Cavs. Smitty is looking like a genius right now.
If not for LeBron’s heroics in Game 2, the Cavaliers would be on the golf course this morning … fresh off a sweep by Orlando!
I didn’t see this coming. I figured the series would go to 6 or 7 games (and it still might) with Cleveland moving on, but the Magic have been outstanding on both ends of the floor and their size/scoring - especially with Turkoglu and Lewis – have caused major issues for Mike Brown and the Cavs.
I’m sure the NBA offices have a major headache right now – seeing their dreams (and mine too) of a Kobe vs LeBron NBA Finals possibly going up in smoke – but Orlando deserves a ton of credit!
Let’s just hope LA can take care of Denver … ’cause if it’s a Nuggets-Magic final, I think we could see an all-time low for TV ratings.
1. Somebody tell Cleveland’s bench that this series started 4 games ago. Thanks.
2. Superman should now by know as SuperStuff after that monster block late in the game on LeBron last night.
3. I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again: I’m tired of Anderson Varejao’s whining and theatrics.
4. Mo Williams: Want a do-over on that prediction/guarantee?
5. I’ve got the Lakers tonight
HALL OF FAMER
Congratulations goes out to my friend and broadcast partner Paul Jones … who will be inducted into the York University Sport Hall of Fame tomorrow night.
Jonesy won three provincial titles (1978, 1980-81) as a member of the York men’s basketball team and was awarded the Kitch McPherson Trophy as most valuable player of the Ontario championship game in 1981. A two-time Ontario all-star (1980-81), Jones participated in the CIAU national championship tournament four times and won two bronze medals (1978-79). In 1983, he won a silver medal as a member of the team that represented Canada in the Commonwealth Basketball Tournament in New Zealand.
Joining Jonesy in the 2009 Class are: Carol Wilson, Stuart G. Robbins, Karen (Jackson) Northey, Dirk Leers, and Susan (Craig) Kuck.
The Hall honours those who have significantly contributed to York U athletics as athletes, coaches, and administrators over the years, as well as those who “exemplify the spirit and ideals of York University sports in professional or community life”.
The York U Hall inducted 27 members from 1980-1986 but funding issues saw it fall by the wayside for almost 15 full years. But it was revived in 2001 – with 10 new inductees – and the 2009 ceremony will now induct 6 more.
Congrats again Jonesy!
Monday, May 25th, 2009
Monday May 25 2009 – 2:07pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)
NO WAY JOSE FOR SPAIN
Despite some erroneous rumors, Jose Calderon has stood by what he told the FAN 590 late in the season – and what he re-iterated in his post-season scrum as well: He will NOT play for the Spanish National Team this summer.
Taken straight from his personal website, www.josemanuelcalderon.com, here’s what Calderon had to say:
“This morning I called José Luis Sáez, President of the FEB. I asked him, if he was considering my inclusion, to exclude me from the pre-selection for the European Championships that will be played in Poland this summer.
This was a very difficult decision for me to make because I think that everyone knows that my involvement with the national team is concrete. I have played with them uninterrupted in all of the categories since I was 14 years old and I was very excited about participating in this Championship.
Never the less, I know that now I need to rest, recuperate well from the injuries from this season and seriously prepare for the upcoming NBA season where my team requires 100% of my effort to improve our results from last year.
I want to be clear that this waiver is only temporary- it is not taken lightly. Rather, it was a result of the outcomes of various consultations and medical tests that I have undergone in the past few days.
If the FEB is agreeable, they can count on my participation in the future. At the same time, I hope that that the fans understand, and that everyone is aware that this was a very difficult decision. For me, playing with the National Selection Team is the best.”
Nobody can question where Calderon’s loyalties lie now.
He is committed to the Raptors – and making sure he’s in top form for a very important season for Toronto next year.
And there’s no doubt that the management staff of the Raps is doing cartwheels right now; nobody wanted to get into another potential Garbo situation.
Things are pretty quiet around the ACC these days. Aside from the noise coming from the construction workers that are hammering away at the ACC, Maple Leaf Square, and the new Telus building … there’s no news coming out of the Raptors (or the Leafs for that matter).
Jay Triano’s hiring is old news by news, though we’re all still waiting for an announcement RE: his assistant coaches / staff. There are rumblings that something could be finalized by the end of this week but nothing is set in stone. In fact, as I’ve written before, Toronto still may opt to wait until June 30 – when the contracts of the 3 current assistants (Mike Evans, Alex English, Gord Herbert) expire and then officially make the new hirings.
There’s still no word yet if Evans, English, or Herbert will be brought back for next season.
What seems to be officially unofficial though is that Marc Iavaroni will be on Triano’s staff … and the talk of Alvin Williams – first reported here a couple of months ago – is legit. The interest is there on the Raptors’ part … but time will tell if Williams is interested as well (and if he is – if the I’s can be dotted and the T’s crossed on a contract). And *IF* Williams is ultimately hired by Toronto, it may be in an assistant coach / team ambassador kind of role. Williams could workout players and act as a sort of mentor to some of the younger guys while “learning the ropes” of coaching in a sense. As I’ve said before, if he were to join the staff, there’s a chance that he could possibly sit in the 2nd row – with the other basketball development consultants/coaches (not necessarily up front with the main assistants). We’ll see how it all unfolds … if it all unfolds.
WANDERING AROUND THE WINDY CITY
One bit of news that is happening with the Raps …
The basketball operations staff will be heading to the Windy City later this week to check out some of the Draft prospects at the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp.
Toronto holds the # 9 selection for the June 25 Draft.
Monday, May 25th, 2009
Monday May 25 2009 – 12:55pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)
One last cheap plug before the big event tomorrow …. I originally posted this on May 4 …
Spring is here after a long and snowy winter and it’s time once again for the Annual 100-Hole Charity Golf Challenge in support of the Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association of Ontario (SB&H).
Hydrocephalus is a neurological condition caused by an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the brain. This can result in many long term effects including impaired vision, headaches, sensitivity to changes in external pressure, hearing sensitivity, hormonal imbalance, seizures and in untreated cases, brain damage.
One of my closest friends, Justin, was diagnosed with hydrocephalus at the age of 10 and had two separate surgeries in connection with the insertion of a shunt. We continue to be grateful to the staff at McMaster General Hospital for ensuring that Justin is completely healthy. He’s been symptom and issue free for 20 years now … living a completely “normal” life.
Justin is now one of the top corporate lawyers at Stikeman Elliott LLP in Toronto and he’s also on the board of directors for SB&H. He and his wife recently celebrated the arrival of their first child as well.
The Golf Challenge is SB&H’s primary fundraiser for the year and an excellent opportunity for me – and many others – to embarrass ourselves on the golf course. We will attempt to play 100 holes each … in 1 day!
Funds raised through this event will ensure that SB&H can continue to support families, children and youth living with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus through research, care, awareness and advocacy programs. SB&H is the only charity in Ontario providing support, education and information to children, parents and adults living with the challenges of these conditions. Further, SB&H receives no government funds and is dependant solely on private donations and fund raising events.
I know that you are all approached to donate to many worthy causes, and we’re all dealing with these tough economic times, but I would greatly appreciate your support in pledging me for this great cause.
Your donation is 100% tax deductible and a tax receipt will be mailed to you.
If you are able to pledge me at this time, you may donate:
(a) by cheque (Cheques can be made out to “Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association of Ontario”). You can mail it to me if you like.
(b) by credit card, 1-800-387-1575 or 416-214-1056
(c) online at https://www.canadahelps.org/DonationDetails.aspx?cookieCheck=true
If you choose Option B or C — to donate over the phone via CC or online — please be sure to identify me as the golfer that you are sponsoring and let me know how much you are donating so that I can note your donation on my pledge form.
On behalf of Justin and I and the members and directors of the Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association of Ontario, we sincerely thank you.
All the best,
Saturday, May 23rd, 2009
Saturday May 23 2009 – 1:05am Eastern (Toronto, ON)
In case you missed the incredible finish about an hour ago …
Thank You, LeBron James.
You (and Mike Brown) just proved my point:
PUT THE BALL IN THE HANDS OF YOUR BEST PLAYER AND WIN OR LOSE WITH HIM!
Cleveland did what L.A. should have done on Thursday night … and look how it turned out.
Incredible shot by LBJ. Incredible shot.
What a huge win for Cleveland — avoiding the embarrassment of blowing a 23-point lead on their home floor … and more importantly … avoiding a 2-0 deficit in their series against the Magic.
1-1 … heading to Orlando.
The first 4 games of the Conference Finals have truly been AMAZING.
Friday, May 22nd, 2009
Friday May 22 2009 – 2:50pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)
I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m a Lakers fan. I grew up idolizing Magic and Kareem – and have just as much love for guys like Cooper, Scott, Rambis, Worthy, and more.
When I’m broadcasting a Raptors/Lakers game, I keep it professional. It’s my job. But when I’m at home on my couch – watching LA on TV, I’m a fan. And last night … I was one livid Laker fan!
What was Phil Jackson thinking at the end of the game … NOT giving Kobe Bryant the ball?
I know, I know … who am I to question one of the greatest coaches of all time (maybe THE best). The man has 9 Championship rings … and I’ve got a wedding ring from Le Chateau! But, still, you can’t draw-up a play at the end of the game without Bryant being involved.
You win or lose with your best player. And when your best player may be the best clutch shooter in the NBA, your decision should be a no-brainer.
I said it a couple of weeks ago – when I mentioned that I voted for LeBron James for the MVP award this year: LeBron may now be the best overall player in the NBA / the guy I’d want to build my franchise around, but if I needed one shot to win the game and could pick just one player to take that shot … Kobe would be my guy. I guarantee a majority of coaches and GMs around the league would agree as well.
But even if Bryant isn’t taking and making the game-winner, he’s making a play. Period. He’s making the decisions; he’s in control. With the ball in his hands, Bryant has the ability to expose a defender if he is guarded in single coverage or pass off to an open teammate if the D tries to double or triple team him.
Why Jackson chose to go with Derek Fisher in the right corner is beyond me.
Now, perhaps the play wasn’t drawn-up the way it unfolded. Maybe Jackson DIDN’T intend for Fisher to heave up a contested 3 over the outstretched arm of Nene at the buzzer.
But if you saw the game – or the replays – it’s not like Denver was denying Kobe the ball. Carmelo Anthony was covering Bryant but he wasn’t suffocating him defensively. Kobe could have got the ball. Kobe should have got the ball.
Plus, there were 4+ seconds left in the game — plenty of time to run an actual play. It’s not like LA had to really rush things and fire up a shot in desperation.
If #24 had the ball in his hands, a similar result (Fisher shooting a 3-ball from the corner) could have still unfolded:
- Kobe drives …
- The defence sucks in …
- Kobe dishes it to an open D-Fish in the right corner
- Fisher gets an uncontested look at a game-tying 3PT shot
Classic drive and kick. Fundamental bball.
Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals is not the time to make Kobe Bryant a decoy. He should have had the ball in his hands and been given an opportunity to win (or tie) the game for his team.
Combine this miscue with the fact that the Lakers failed to bury Denver in the 2nd quarter – when LA was up by 14 points and looking to make it 20 or more – and it’s easy to see that the Nuggets have got the momentum in this series as they head home to the Mile High City for the next 2 games.
It’s not like LA is “on the ropes” right now, but they should be up 2-0.
Thursday, May 21st, 2009
Thursday May 21 2009 – 6:15pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)
Waaaay late checking in today. But, hey, aren’t blogs supposed to be random anyway? It’s not like I’m expected to have things posted for the “first edition” … like a newspaper or something!
So as we all know by know, the Raptors didn’t move up in Tuesday night’s Draft Lottery. They went into the night with the best shot of landing pick #9 and that’s exactly how it unfolded.
And who might the Raptors be eyeing with that 9th selection?
Let’s take a look at some of the prospects (knowing full-well that a TON can change in a month … so this list can (and likely will) change as June 25 approaches and the Raps have had guys in Toronto for pre-draft workouts, etc.
In no particular, here are a handful of candidates; my “9 at 9″ …
Earl Clark (Louisville)
- Athletic … Can shoot the 3 … Versatile / can play multiple positions … Decent shot-blocker
- Will he take contact?
Gerald Henderson (Duke)
- Very athletic … Smart player from a “smart program” … Solid defender
- Average 3PT shooter
Stephen Curry (Davidson)
- Great basketball IQ … Good passer (PG possibilities) … Outstanding shooter who can fill it up
- Small / slim
Tyreke Evans (Memphis)
- Always looking to score / get to the hoop … Speedy and aggressive … Good rebounder for a SG
- Not a great 3PT shooter
DeMar DeRozan (USC)
- High energy … Good scorer (on the drive or with the jumper) … Big 6’7 frame for the SF slot
- Not a great defender
Jrue Holliday (UCLA)
- Good defender … Quick and aggressive on offence … Solid passer
- Not really a 1 or a 2 (“tweener”)
Brandon Jennings (Lottomatica Roma)
- Good decision-maker … Athletic for a 6’1″ PG … Quick on both ends – in all directions
- Undersized (height and muscle)
James Harden (Arizona State)
- Strong player who won’t shy away from contact … Fantastic scorer
- All-but certain to be gone by #9 though
Terrence Williams (Louisville)
- Good defender … Tough and physical … Can rebound well … Athletic
- Is he the “SCORER” the Raps truly need?
Again, there’s still more than a month to go ’til the Draft, but if it were up to me right now I’d really be zoning in on DeRozan, Evans, and maybe Williams (knowing that Harden is likely gone by 9 (but hoping he’s not)).
It’ll be interesting to see how it all unfolds.
Tuesday, May 19th, 2009
Tuesday May 19 2009 – 9:23pm Eastern (Toronto, ON)
Anytime the CLIPPERS win anything, you know there’s no “fix” in the works!
Here’s how the Draft Lottery unfolded (with Sacramento being the big loser):
14 – Phoenix Suns
13 – Indiana Pacers
12 – Charlotte Bobcats
11 – New Jersey Nets
10 – Milwaukee Bucks
9 – Toronto Raptors
8 – New York Knicks
7 – Golden State Warriors
6 – Minnesota Timberwolves
5 – Washington Wizards
4 – Sacramento Kings
3 – Oklahoma City Thunder
2 – Memphis Grizzlies
1 – LA Clippers
Talk to ya tomorrow folks!
* To listen to Bryan Colangelo’s (Raptors President and General Manager) comments after the Lottery was completed – with Toronto staying put at the #9 slot – check out this link: