Congrats to the trio of Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke, head coach Ron Wilson and sniper Phil Kessel
for picking up Silver Medals at the winter games. Unfortunately no M aple Leafs were a part of Canada’s Gold Medal winning club which raised an interesting conundrum for some - if team USA had won the Gold Medal match, would any people have actually booed the American trio for foiling the Canadian dream? The club was expected to finish fourth or fifth and clearly overachieved with Wilson, to some, regaining his lost halo, after a difficult season as the coach of the Maple Leafs.
Regardless, with all the talk of Joannie Rochette’s grace under duress, Burke deserves kudos for showing such commitment to USA Hockey after the staggering and untimely death of his son Brendan. The father has pledged to continue to work on behalf of gay rights for his fallen son, even vowing to participate in this year’s gay pride parade after pledging to do so to his son.
Check out the current issue of Sports Illustrated for an excellent piece on Burke from the brilliant hockey writer Michael Farber.RAPTORS
There’s a reason there’s an 82 game schedule in the NBA. So that we can rise and fall with the inevitable peaks and valleys and certainly this year’s Raptors team is no exception. The club began the year with a treacherous schedule and chemistry issues with nine new faces and were 11-17. Then came a surge as the club began to gel and also took advantage of a home-friendly schedule along with more favourable opponents.
Now, the club is 2-5 since the All-Star break and needs to stop the bleeding before a key four-game west coast swing involving the Lakers, Kings, Warriors and Blazers. Before that journey, the Raptors have two home games against the Knicks and Sixers, who are both below them in the Eastern Conference standings. With or without their franchise leader in Chris Bosh, the club has to find a way to win those games.
Against the Blazers, the Raptors looked rusty (and a surreal feeling in the building with raucous cheers during standard plays in transition since fans were cheering the latest goals for Canada vs. Russia). After playing an inspired game against the Shaq-less Cavaliers taking them to overtime before coming up short, Toronto gave back-to-back poor performances in Oklahoma City and Houston.
Offensively there’s way too many turnovers, symptomatic of not having Bosh in the lineup and the club having to make extra passes to generate baskets. And defensively the club looks far too lackadaisical, especially in trying to control dribble penetration and protecting the paint.
Before there was talk of perhaps catching a four seed and nabbing home court in the first round of the playoffs. Instead with the Bulls, Bucks and Bobcats nipping at their heels, the Raps need to solidify the fifth spot and try to find a winning recipe away from home.OTHER STUFF ON MY MIND
- The average speedskater’s thighs are twice the size of the average human being. It’s this type of useless information that I’ve picked up during the Olympics which has no discernible benefit to me in my lifetime.
- No longer am I afflicted with Olympic fever. Now I’ve got the Fever. Bieber Fever. (Yes, this is a shameless attempt to lure his female following onto my own twitter
page to boost my followers.)
- Most underrated memory of Canada’s Olympic Gold in men’s hockey. The live shots of Gretzky’s restaurant in Toronto with the NDP’s Jack Layton, front and centre, mugging for the camera and leading the cheers. These politicians are beyond crafty. What time you think he got there to get that spot, before sunrise?
- I’ve seen every Academy Award nominee for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Sound Editing, and Visual Effects. I’m beyond hyped for this Sunday’s Oscars especially with two versatile, hilarious hosts in Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. Any show with Bruce Villanch involved can’t go wrong.
- I normally finish a book every two weeks but it took me an entire month to devour Bill Simmons mammoth The Book of Basketball
. 700 pages long and in serious need of some editing, the book is ambitious yet wildly uneven, undermined by the writer’s annoying Boston bias but salvaged by the Sports Guy’s terrific wit, obvious passion and knowledge for the sport and timeless pop culture references.
The best ones? “If David Stern is Michael Corleone, then Stu Jackson is most definitely Fredo….Bill Walton’s feet were as bad as James Caan’s after Kathy Bates hobbled him in Misery…Shaquille O’Neal is the Peter North of his generation-dominant but not the best”- and a two page dissection of Teen Wolf, in which he surmises that Michael J. Fox’s character put up an 18-8 with 3 steals in the decisive game and the coach is one of the most underrated characters in sports movies all-time.