On Sunday night, live over the internet, NBA superstar Carmelo Anthony brought together a team of other NBA superstars (like Lebron James and Chris Paul) and some regular NBA stars, and called them Team Melo. They traveled to Philadelphia for the Battle for I-95, against Team Philly. (Team Philly consisted mainly of NBA players that a casual sports fan might very well be unfamiliar with, such as Tyreke Evans and Lou Williams, all of whom identify with Philadelphia.)
On the backs of their shirts were the initials BBNS, a stand-in for the slogan ‘Basketball Never Stops’. I more than anyone can appreciate the sentiment, however suspect the initialism. However, maybe ‘Basketball’ should have stopped for a practice session or two instead of going to the Philadelphia Eagles game that afternoon. Then we might have had a more coherent contest instead of just ‘Basketball’ going off for 43 irrelevant points in a slightly lacklustre losing effort. Although it was good to see the underdog home team get the win against Team Melo (thanks to great performances by Kyle Lowry, Hakim Warrick and others), Kevin Durant (pictured above), this summer’s streetball MVP, didn’t show for the game.
Anyway, it all just reminds me that there’s no substitution for the real thing. So NBA, can we get the season back on track, please? And while basketball was busy not stopping, here’s what else was going on in the world of sports:
1. On a dark and jellyfish filled night. In a story that seems to abound with political allegory, potential sleeper agent for US intelligence, or more likely near super-human 62-year old endurance swimmer Diana Nyad, attempted to swim the 166 km stretch from the Ernest Hemingway Nautical Club in Havana Cuba all the way to Florida. This weekend marked Nyad’s third attempt. The first was back in ’78 when Nyad was waylaid by uncooperative weather. Then last month Nyad tried the swim, only to be stopped by an attack of vomiting. On the first night of this most recent swim back home to the US, Nyad suffered a series of very toxic stings from Portuguese Men ‘O War. She was determined to swim on, despite the searing and disfiguring pain, but sadly on Sunday she had to resign the dream. With all of the built-up toxins in her body, another sting might have proven fatal.
2. 200,000 problems. As the Toronto Blue Jays host an array of maladies on their roster nearing the end of the season, baseball’s major league hits a milestone. Brett Lawrie breaks his finger, Escobar may be out for the rest of 2011, Colby Rasmus is suffering from the ever-pervasive flu-like symptoms, Bautista hurts himself badly on Sunday while tracking down a deep hit (unfortunately causing the Jays to give up an in-the-park home run—memories of my softball season this summer), and Adam Lind is home for paternal reasons (not this Adam Lind, mind you). So the Jays are in rough shape, but Major League Baseball is doing fine, recording it’s 200,000th regular season game in its history.
3. Wild card races. The boys of summer are getting downright autumnal. Other than the six teams who win their divisions, one team in the America League and one in the National League get a wild card playoff spot. So there’s lots at stake. And have no fear, even operating a MASH unit, the Blue Jays are right in midst of things. Of course, it’s divisional rivals Tampa Bay that we’re helping to make a run at the playoffs as Boston continues to struggle. (But 14 innings later: not so fast, Tampa). Anyway, at least we’re we’re helping someone.
4. School’s in for the NHL. The Leafs are getting ready to launch the 2011/12 season, and who knows how it’s going to turn out. But cuts are being made to get the roster in shape, and there’s a whole season’s worth of stories waiting to unfold for the Leaf Nation. But guaranteed to be a factor in the dispatches from the upcoming NHL season is Professor Brendan Shanahan. Shanahan is the new senior vice-president of player safety in the NHL, and as Toronto’s preseason loss to Buffalo illustrated, he’s making himself known. Impressively though, Shanahan the Disciplinarian has been distributing detailed video explanations of what kind of hits aren’t going to be tolerated this year in the NHL and why. A nice little bit of transparency. (It’s out of his jurisdiction, but can he crack down on racism?)
5. Something of an enigma. A couple of things happened in sports this week that I can’t quite understand. It turns out that professional poker is a ponzi scheme? Oh, and what exactly was this all about, the Buffalo Bills coming back from a 21-0 deficit in the second quarter to intercept the golden boy Tom Brady‘s passes 4 times and beat the New England Patriots 34-31?
Kyle Buckley is the Sports Critic of Toronto Standard.