By Aaron Hutchins - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - 0 Comments
Players, politicians and fans respond to player’s announcement
By Mika Rekai - Monday, April 29, 2013 at 12:55 PM - 0 Comments
Collins becomes first openly gay athlete in North American major league sports
NBA center Jason Collins has come out as the first openly gay athlete playing major league sports in North America, sharing the news in a carefully-worded personal essay for Sports Illustrated.
The 31-year-old veteran of over 700 games says that he did not want to be a trailblazer, but is ready to take the mantle of responsibility because he is tired of pretending to be someone he is not.
“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation,” he wrote. The 7″ tall athlete has played in the NBA for 12 years, and says he hid his identity first out of fear and then out of loyalty to his teams.
“When I signed a free-agent contract with Boston last July, I decided to commit myself to the Celtics and not let my personal life become a distraction. When I was traded to the Wizards, the political significance of coming out sunk in.” He added that part of what prompted his decision was a desire to walk in Boston’s gay pride parade with his friend, a straight Massachusetts congressman.
A handful of professional athletes have come out after retirement, including John Amaechi (basketball), Billy Bean (baseball) and David Kopay (football). In Europe, rugby player Gareth Thomas came out in 2009, while he was still playing for Wales, and said that lying about his sexuality drove him to attempt suicide.
NBA Commissioner David Stern was quick to lend his support to Collins.
“Jason has been a widely respected player and teammate throughout his career and we are proud he has assumed the leadership mantle on this very important issue,” Stern said in a statement.
Former U.S President Bill Clinton also released a statement of support. His daughter Chelsea attended Stanford University with Collins.
“Jason’s announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community,” Clinton said. “It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities. For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive.”
By Colby Cosh - Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 9:28 AM - 0 Comments
Phil Birnbaum, who along with “Tom Tango” is probably one of Canada’s two great gifts to quantitative analysis in sports, has been studying the NHL over the past few weeks. It was only after a second or third reading of his series breaking down luck versus skill in the NHL standings that I was able to really grasp what he was saying. I’m a fluent speaker of basic stats-ese, but not a native. Phil is a pretty approachable explainer of things (including some of the things devised by Tango), so usually I don’t have to bash myself over the head too hard with his findings. But I didn’t see how interesting the message was until now.
Probably all hockey fans know instinctively that the introduction of the shootout has injected a fair amount of randomness into the year-end NHL standings. Birnbaum, looking at the shootout-era data, has now shown just how much. In the old NHL that still had ties, it took an average of 36 NHL games for a team’s actual talent to become as important to its standings position as sheer randomness. “Talent” is defined here as repeatable ability, ability relevant to prediction: after 36 games, your team’s distance in the standings from .500 would be about half luck and half “talent”, and that would be reflected in your guess as to how they would do in the next 36 games (assuming nothing else about the team had changed). Over a full season, we could be confident that there was little randomness left in the ordering of the teams in the league table.
But in the new post-ties NHL, Birnbaum notes, the standard deviation of standings points has shrunk from about .2 per game to .15. Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Monday, January 7, 2013 at 8:56 AM - 0 Comments
The conventional wisdom on the NHL lockout, usually delivered with a sneer, is that Canadian hockey fans will belly-crawl back to the league uncritically now that all the bickering and all the tantrums have ended. Like all conventional wisdom, it is conventional because it is quite a safe bet. I know I’ll crawl with everyone else: I’m capable of intellectually segregating my fondness for the game of hockey from my loathing of the existing institutions of hockey. (It’s not all that difficult! Nor is it shameful!) What’s different about this lockout is that in the meantime I took the bait of regular-season NBA basketball with enthusiasm for the first time ever. Continue…
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 6:50 PM - 0 Comments
Sports stadiums want to enter the smartphone era. The challenge: connecting 100,000 fans.
When the Barclays Center ofﬁcially opened its doors Sept. 28 with a sold-out Jay-Z concert, New Yorkers got their first up-close look at the brash, otherworldly home of the Brooklyn Nets. In renderings, the US$1-billion arena’s swooping lines initially resembled those of the Starship Enterprise. But, in real life, the deliberately rusted steel exterior (which drips bright orange splotches on the sidewalk below) conveys a grittier, urban aesthetic—more Blade Runner than Star Trek.
Nor is the futuristic theme limited to the Barclays Center’s appearance. The arena is trumpeted as among the most technologically advanced in the world, full of HD video screens and, most importantly, extensive WiFi connectivity.
It’s part of the mounting effort to drag the utilitarian sports stadium, with its popcorn and plastic beer cups, into the age of smartphones and tablets. With the exception of subway tunnels and airplane cabins, big sports stadiums represent one of the few remaining places in North America where decent wireless coverage can be frustratingly hard to come by—thanks mostly to the technological challenges posed by having the equivalent of a small city sitting in a single city block. At the same time, team owners are hoping to keep fans flowing through the turnstiles by allowing them to integrate their iPhones and iPads into the action. Though specific approaches vary, fans at places like the Barclays Center can expect to watch instant replays, monitor real-time video of their favourite players and order food and drinks from their touchscreens.
By Jason Parker Quinton - Friday, April 20, 2012 at 2:29 PM - 0 Comments
A six-foot-four guard is Burlington, Ont.’s best hope for a future NBA star
Every spring, campuses are full of students anxious to return home, and Brady Heslip is no exception. What is exceptional is how he spent this spring: tromping through the NCAA tournament, flashing his signature “3 point goggles” salute, winning academic awards, and emerging as Burlington Ont.’s best chance at a future NBA star. The 21-year-old, six-foot-four Baylor Bears guard deftly abides pressures of school and basketball, and then takes the long trip home from Waco, Texas, to the suburban house he shares with his mom, where he’ll kick back and bake banana bread (seriously, his mom swears it’s true).
Heslip’s Mom, Jodi Triano, is excited for the arrival of her boy, who will breeze into the house with his “too many clothes and shoes that spill out into all the rooms.” Accustomed to the company of sportsmen (her brother Jay is a former Olympian and the first Canadian-born coach in NBA history), she says that her son, “lights up the house, and it’s great to re-connect with his gaggle of friends.” She adds, “I am most proud that he has stayed so level-headed. He hasn’t let the hype disrupt his focus.”
When throwing up his trademark “goggles” (touching thumb to forefinger, and putting the ring around his eye), Heslip could be boasting about this focus, frequently credited as the key to his ascent. With a hint of emerging an Texan drawl, he says his main goal is “to graduate from Baylor a better person.” It’s a broad outlook, but one synthesized through concentrated and dogged training, as he shed 20 pounds before last season began. “There is no secret, just work hard, eat well, put in work in the gym, and watch yourself on film—you see it all in the game”
Whether or not he indulges the temptations of Texas barbeque or Baylor’s nightlife, Brady rises at dawn to exercise, before studying, then an evening workout, and pick-up basketball—a regime he continues when home on vacation.
And what keeps him level-headed is constant communication with family, and with the people he says, “have been my best friends since we were in Grade 5.” Even when he’s only home for a few days, Brady drives to Niagara Falls to visit his grandparents. He watches movies with his grandpa, and grocery shops for his grandmother. In Brady’s youth his grandparents were always there for him (he was raised by a single mom) and even as a sports celebrity, he wants to be there for them.
“Easter weekend, he was out partying it up with some friends at Brock University,” says Brady’s mom, “the next morning he was in Niagara Falls, at his grandparent’s house as they were waking up.”
Visiting old haunts, seeing old friends, coaches, and stomping grounds—for Brady Heslip, it’s just another summer before the NBA calls.
By Chris Sorensen - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
The company is challenging Nike on its own turf
Kevin Plank, the founder and CEO of sportswear apparel company Under Armour, has been a long-time supporter of the University of Maryland’s football team, the Terrapins, where he was once a special teams captain. But the relationship entered a new phase last week when the Terps’ new, Under Armour-made uniforms were unveiled for the upcoming season—all 32 variations of them.
The over-the-top, mix-and-match approach—there are four different colours of Terps jerseys, four different colours of pants, and two different colours of helmets—is all about marketing buzz and drew immediate comparisons to Nike’s efforts to use football players at the University of Oregon (Nike founder and chair Phil Knight is an alumni) as human billboards. “The sheer number of articles that have appeared last week about the Under Armour jerseys shows that it’s already been a successful marketing campaign,” says Matt Powell, an analyst at SportsONESource, which tracks sportswear sales in the United States.
It’s not the first time that Plank has challenged industry giant Nike on its own turf. On the eve of Under Armour’s entry into the Nike-dominated $2.5-billion U.S. basketball shoe market last year, Plank boasted that it was only a matter of time before he owned the category. “I’m 38,” he told Bloomberg news. “I’ve got a long time [to get there].” As for Nike, he said, “those guys are old.”
By Michael Friscolanti - Monday, May 30, 2011 at 9:25 AM - 2 Comments
Facing lawsuits on both sides of the border, a Toronto hoopster finally pays up
After yet another dismal season on the basketball court (22-60, third-worst in the NBA), the Toronto Raptors have a long list of decisions to make. What to do with Clarence “Sonny” Weems is one of them. Although the high-flying forward struggled on defence and eventually lost his starting job, he still reached career highs in points (9.2 per game) and assists (1.8). Now a free agent in search of a new contract, the 24-year-old will soon find out whether the Raps want him back.
One thing, though, is already certain: wherever Weems plays next season, his entire salary will belong to him. Three years and three court judgments later, he finally paid back the thousands of dollars he borrowed from a former Canadian Football League all-star.
As Maclean’s reported last year, Weems quietly took advantage of a lucrative but little-known enterprise: companies that loan wads of cash to elite college athletes, on the condition that the money be repaid (with interest) as soon as the client inks a pro contract. In his case, the lender was Felix Wright, a one-time Hamilton Tiger-Cat who went on to play nine seasons in the NFL before dabbling in the financial services industry. Back in 2008, after a standout senior season at the University of Arkansas, Weems and Wright signed a contract of their own: a cash loan worth US$23,500 (at eight per cent interest) plus the use of a Ford Taurus—“all of which,” according to court documents, “was to be repaid and returned respectively when the said defendant was selected as a draft pick on a National Basketball Association team.”
By Jason Kirby - Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 8:00 AM - 1 Comment
By signing deals with NBA stars, upstart Chines shoemakers aim to crack the U.S. market
In early January, as the Phoenix Suns basketball team struggled to turn around a disappointing season, two questions surrounded point guard Steve Nash—would the team trade him to another city, and what’s with those Chinese sneakers anyway?
After a 15-year tie-up with Nike, the B.C. native announced he had signed a sponsorship deal with Chinese shoemaker Luyou. It wasn’t a complete switch. Nash will still wear his old Nikes on U.S. courts, while he’ll lace up in his Luyous on trips to the Middle Kingdom. But as Chinese shoemakers stomp into the U.S. market, they’ve determined the two keys to success are a lookalike Nike-style swoosh logo, and an endorsement deal with a major NBA athlete.
Over the past couple of years, some two dozen NBAers have stepped into Chinese brand shoes. The Boston Celtics’ Shaquille O’Neal sports Li Ning sneakers. His teammate Kevin Garnett wears shoes from a company called Anta. Meanwhile a number of rookies, including Patrick Patterson of the Houston Rockets, have signed with Peak Sports. Unlike Nash, most of the players wear their Chinese sneakers during games. And while the overwhelming majority of fans will have never heard of any of those brands, the companies are banking that will eventually change. “A brand doesn’t exist anywhere but inside the minds of the customers,” says Joe Benson, a brand strategist with Brand Blueprint in Boston. “What the Chinese want Steve Nash to do is bring in some positive associations with the sneakers.”
The moves are part of a push by Chinese companies to establish identifiable global brands. On the surface, the sneaker business seems perfectly suited to the task. Western consumers already know American-brand sneakers are all made in China, quite possibly in the same factories and by the same workers as those of the new Chinese brands. The deals with pro athletes are the first step to getting the shoes onto store shelves in the U.S. Last year, Li Ning—a company launched by a former Olympic gold gymnast of the same name—opened its first U.S. retail store 20 minutes down the road from Nike’s headquarters in Portland. In 2009, Li Ning reported sales of $1.3 billion and has more than 7,000 stores in China.
By macleans.ca - Friday, December 10, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Skeletons in Princess Victoria’s closet, Dick Cheney meets his match, and LeBron James goes home
Helena Bonham Carter, fashion plate
Her corsets, crinoline and frizzy hair have made her a constant on “worst dressed” lists over the years, so when the British actor, who counts Marie Antoinette as her style icon and claims a “f–k it attitude” to red-carpet dressing, heard she’d made Vanity Fair’s “best dressed” list, even she burst into laughter.
When nature’s in your path . . .
Vancouver’s organic breakfast moguls, Ratana and Arran Stephens, may have cast their professional lot with the environment—their cereal company, Nature’s Path, aspires to “advance the cause of people and planet along the path of sustainability.” But this week they came under fire for razing 25 trees from their lawn in tony Point Grey: a violation of the city’s famously strict tree-protection bylaw, and a major no-no in Lotusland. Their sins made headline news in Vancouver, which bars homeowners from removing trees from their property, prompting the pair to apologize profusely and repeatedly, even writing a letter to Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson insisting that they be heavily fined.
By Michael Friscolanti - Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
‘Sonny’ Weems got a loan in college from an ex-CFL star who’s chased him from one town to the next
Clarence “Sonny” Weems is no Chris Bosh. He’s not going to pour in 24 points a game, or have his initials stitched on a pair of Nike basketball sneakers. A face of the franchise he is certainly not. But last season, when the Toronto Raptors were a pitiful bunch to watch, Weems was a welcome dose of hustle and heart. The once-perennial benchwarmer—already traded three times in his two-year NBA career—played with such passion down the stretch that he not only cracked the starting lineup, he earned himself a nice raise. Next season, his salary will top US$850,000.
Which is also great news for Felix Wright, a former Canadian Football League star. Maybe now—after lawsuits on both sides of the border, and a recent judgment from an Ontario court—Weems will finally pay back the $35,000 he owes him.
By Colby Cosh - Monday, November 30, 2009 at 4:57 AM - 17 Comments
Chris Ballard’s Sports Illustrated column suggesting that LeBron James should sign for the NBA minimum in 2010, wherever he signs, amazed me for two reasons.
One is that I found myself reading, in the pages of SI, a totally new, non-ridiculous idea I had never considered before. SI remains a great magazine: full of great photography, great profiles of interesting athletes, great tear-jerking stories, and sometimes even great moral force. It’s never been so strong on the ideas. That’s not really what it’s for (though maybe it should be), and we’ve got the internet for that.
But, and this is reason two, “LeBron for a buck” seems like such a terrific idea that I started to go a little crazy for a couple of minutes after reading Ballard’s piece. “This argument is so convincing,” I thought to myself, “that LeBron’s actually going to do this. Not ‘should do it’; ‘will do it’. He has to. The value of being the guy who took the bare minimum to win some championships, who chose a franchise totally without regard to salary and gave up his own money to get the best teammates, is too big to pass up. It puts Jordan and everybody else, everybody in any sport, in the shadows instantly—even if it doesn’t work.” The ploy isn’t even vulnerable to the “Why should a rich guy be expected to give money back to some even richer guy?” line of attack, if the team agrees, in an enforceable way, to spend close to the salary cap on top players.
But in short order I came to my senses, as you probably already have. Here’s the problem with Ballard’s idea.
“I think it’s very smart,” says one Western Conference general manager. “LeBron’s personal brand is worth way, way more than any salary he could draw from a team. It’s myopic to think otherwise.”
This unnamed GM (I’m guessing his name rhymes with Daryl Morey) is obviously right. Considered as a revenue stream, LeBron’s future salary from playing basketball is small in comparison with the value he can potentially earn as an endorser, speaker, businessman, totem… the off-court value of the LeBron brand. And championships inflate that brand value. Sure, fans in 29 cities might look slightly askance at a move that could injure the competitive balance of the league for a while, but ultimately, championships are the sources of the best stories, and the stories are what makes athletes attractive. Stacked superteams aren’t bad for sports leagues, they’re good. (If they weren’t, the Premiership would have gone under ages ago.) When those teams win, we talk about “Are they the best ever?”; when they lose, you’ve got David and Goliath. Everybody loves to hate the Yankees.
The problem is that brand value is more fragile than the value of a playing contract. The personal-branding stream may be bigger, unless something bad happens to harm the personal brand—like, say, your supermodel wife chasing you down the street at 2 a.m. trying to kill you with the tools of your trade.
Think about Tiger Woods: he might not have done anything worse than let his attention wander to his iPod when he should have been watching the road, but the hard financial cost of what happened to him on Friday has to be in the high eight figures, no? How does he shape up as an automobile endorser for the immediate future? You think the ads where he’s giving away Buicks still work?—is GM the kind of firm that can afford to shrug off a little ridicule right now, play around with its image? Every firm that employs Tiger as an icon needs to recalibrate now. He has always been portrayed as sort of half-human, half-automaton, a mischievous magician you can cheer for in spite of his gifts from God. He has appealed equally to both sexes; I’m pretty sure that won’t be true anymore.
That’s just a subtle, perhaps even overstated example of how quickly a brand can be damaged by the actions of others, of course. Forget Tiger; think Kobe. Brand value is ephemeral, and not entirely within the control of the athlete. Good character and smart decisions can help maximize it, but they can’t guarantee it. Whereas an NBA salary—that’s money no crazed spouse or tabloid journalist can take away from you. It’s money they have to pay you even if your leg falls off (as Greg Oden’s probably about six months away from proving empirically). It’s the low-risk segment of the portfolio. And as an athlete, you’re made constantly, nightmarishly aware that any contract might be your last. LeBron’s not signing for (the equivalent of) a buck. But it would still be pretty cool if he did.
By Charlie Gillis - Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 6:18 PM - 0 Comments
The Raps finally announced their deal to bring in Jermaine O’Neal. Some people don’t…
The Raps finally announced their deal to bring in Jermaine O’Neal. Some people don’t like this move: the kid has a wonky knee and brings plenty of baggage from Indianapolis. But hey, who wouldn’t want out of that hornet’s nest? So good luck to guard T.J. Ford and centre Rasho Nesterovic, who go to Indy in exchange. They’ll need it.
Toronto also re-signed Jose Calderon, an important development that will be lost in all the Jer-mania.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 27, 2008 at 12:20 AM - 0 Comments
As a follow-up to this, Chad Ford completed his last mock draft at 7:12pm,…
As a follow-up to this, Chad Ford completed his last mock draft at 7:12pm, 18 minutes before the actual draft began. Here are his projections with where each was actually drafted in brackets. By my count he got nine correct. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 6:46 PM - 0 Comments
In three sentences, here’s everything you need to know about the NBA Draft—the greatest…
In three sentences, here’s everything you need to know about the NBA Draft—the greatest non-athletic event in professional sports.
No one knows anything. Everyone knows that no one knows anything. But everyone still believes it is possible to know something.
If you were so interested—and apparently a lot of people are—there are now approximately 374 websites devoted to the NBA Draft. Each one run by someone claiming to know how it will proceed. Foremost among them is Chad Ford, ESPN’s designated draftologist. Chad holds three degrees from three different universities, once worked for the United Nations and currently teaches conflict resolution at a school in Hawaii. He has watched young basketball players on every continent, except maybe Antarctica. He is well acquainted with Omer Asik.
And yet, Chad Ford once strongly believed that Darko Milicic would be an excellent professional basketball player. And if there’s one thing you can say without absolute certainty about this unpredictable and unknowable world in which we inhabit, it is that Darko Milicic is not an excellent professional basketball player.
If anyone should have foreseen that, it was Chad Ford. But that he didn’t does not reflect poorly on him. It merely points to the underlying truth of the NBA Draft. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 2:36 AM - 0 Comments
If nothing else, the 2008 NBA Finals will be remembered for proving several theories…
If nothing else, the 2008 NBA Finals will be remembered for proving several theories beyond a reasonable doubt.
For instance, we can now be sure of the following.
1. Sasha Vujacic is the most annoying professional basketball player since Bill Laimbeer (and the worst part of the ongoing soccerization of the NBA).
2. The idea of Lamar Odom is always preferable to the reality (see also Gasol, Pau).
3. If you are a pregnant woman on a television sitcom and your water breaks and you need to be rushed to the hospital, Kevin Garnett is the not the person you’d want driving the car. (To use another medical-related analogy, if KG were a heart surgeon, he’d punch a hole in your chest and rip the still-beating organ out with his bare hands. Impressive in his intensity, physical ability and determination, sure. But not the guy you want to save your life.)
4. Jack Nicholson is now slightly more interested than Phil Jackson in coaching the Los Angeles Lakers.
5. Chris Mihm is still alive.
6. Paul Pierce is a Hall of Famer.
With all due respect to Sasha, Lamar, Jack, Chris and KG’s ultimately crushing fear of failure, it is this sixth confirmation that is most intriguing. Because previous to this Paul Pierce was the least remarkable superstar in the NBA. Or at least the least celebrated. And this was probably unjust. If not at all that surprising. Continue…
By Charlie Gillis - Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 12:02 PM - 0 Comments
La première étoile:… This guy. Given the name of this blog, we’ll never have
La première étoile: This guy. Given the name of this blog, we’ll never have a more apt clip. ‘Nuff said.
Two minutes for … indolence. To us. No Small Balls on Tuesday! Sacré bleu! Honorable mention to Ron Wilson for brandishing a Canadian passport at his indoctrination ceremony with the Leafs. I can get one of those off the street in Lahore in 27 seconds. And do you think the Leafs Nashun really cares that you’re a Yank? Win a few games, and they’ll be singing God Bless America.
Who’s got tickets? You’re going to get a lot of this while Euro is on, but I’m liking Czech v. Portugal at Stade de Genève (it’s on right now; quick! change the channel!). Any time pretty boy Cristiano is on the pitch, you’re guaranteed Grade A foot work and Grade 3 histrionics. Long live the beautiful game.
Fun police: Yeah, the Blue Jays are better this year. But every time we see clips of the tireless grinder Reed Johnson, we’re reminded why we loved the guy when he played for Toronto. No fancy diving crap. Just hunts the ball down and stabs it. Cubs are in T-dot on Saturday for a bit of interleague. Feels sinful not to cheer the guy on.
Extra bases: Poor NBA. The league get its dream match-up for the finals—Lakers vs. Celtics—and then gets smacked with this bombshell from disgraced referee Tim Donaghy, who claims two other hoops officials helped fix the outcome of a 2002 playoff game. … Avs appear ready to roll the dice on Jose Theodore … brilliant bit by Colbert on the Hockey Night in Canada theme, and, ah, “punching beavers in the face.”
By Charlie Gillis - Monday, June 9, 2008 at 12:58 PM - 0 Comments
La première étoile: Leon Powe. Forget Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. The Boston Celtics …
La première étoile: Leon Powe. Forget Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. The Boston Celtics benchwarmer was the difference in Game 2 of the NBA Finals last night, dropping 21 points in only 15 minutes of floor time. His dunk in the final seconds of the third quarter was the highlight of the night (nice pass, Rajon Rondo). It was almost as pretty as this one a few seconds earlier. Even if you hate basketball, you can’t help but cheer for a player—and a person—like Leon Powe.
Two minutes for … Overplaying your hand. Sounds like the CFL thinks it doesn’t need an operating agreement with the NFL. Reports say the CFL has ditched talks about a working agreement with the NFL as a “sign of strength” because many CFL owners are cheesed off about the NFL playing some games in Toronto over the next few years. Perhaps somebody should remind those owners that the NFL does not need anybody’s permission to come to Canada. If the CFL wants to protect its weaker franchises, the best place to do that is at a bargaining table. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 20, 2008 at 1:48 PM - 0 Comments
From my brief and unspectacular run as a sportswriter, I can think of one…
From my brief and unspectacular run as a sportswriter, I can think of one certifiably transcendent hometown crowd—the angry, bitter, vengeful group that greeted Vince Carter when he returned as a New Jersey Net to play the Toronto Raptors. As a fan, the only other that comes to mind is the uniformly red mob—giddy and a bit bewildered—that showed up for Toronto’s first playoff game a couple seasons later.
Except last night, watching Game 7 of the Spurs/Hornets series, it was difficult not to link the New Orleans loss with the dreadful showing of those in attendance. With all due respect to the people of New Orleans, who have suffered so much in recent years, it was unquestionably a pathetic effort. So much so that Charles Barkley took a moment at halftime to call out the 18,000-strong crowd, all wearing white and all seemingly petrified. Continue…