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Joel Anthony a true pro and a Canadian to be proud of

I’m going to miss tonight’s game – more on that later – and while I’d love to hear what Pop has to say pre-game about just about anything anyone brings up, there’s one other reason it’s ticking me off to miss it.

Won’t get a chance to touch base even quickly with Joel Anthony, who has signed a 10-day deal with the size-starved San Antonio Spurs and who will be in uniform tonight.

It has been my great pleasure over the years to have covered an awful lot of basketball players – both women men – who have taken great pride in representing their country, no matter the circumstances or the role.

None did it as much and with as little ado as Anthony.

He always answered the call. He went to the tournaments to qualify for the bigger tournaments, he went on those exhausting exhibition tours of Europe when Canada hadn’t qualified for anything, when the team was fodder for other countries who had something to play for, when Canada played like nine games in six cities in 10 or 11 days and all they got for it was a lot of losses, some thanks and some weariness.

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And through it all, guys like Joel and Levon Kendall and Jermaine Anderson and whole bunch of guys I should also mention turned up consistently. They played because that’s what you did and putting on the Canada jersey meant something to them, even if it didn’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things.

It didn’t come as too big a surprise when the Spurs reached out to him when Pau Gasol went down and the frontcourt hole was gaping. Anthony had been in camp with them – I thought in October it was a perfect fit of player and program – and you know he was keeping himself in shape.

This is his 10th NBA season in fourth team and he’s one of those hard-working, no issue, no ego guys who should have job in the NBA for as they want one.

He never struck it rich – and I know ridiculous that sounds about someone who made $ 22 millio over his career but you know what I mean – but he was a good and dedicated teammate and end-of-the-bench guy that successful franchises needed. Frankly, he is a Spur, if you think of selflessness and doing what needs to be done and not taking oneself too seriously.

It’ll take a curious confluence of events for him to get on the floor tonight but you never know.

If he does, someone stand up and applaud a bit loudly for me, would you? Thanks. A lot, a lot.

This played in the saloon one day so …

Way late to this but …

The Adam Hadwin fellow goes out and a blisters a golf course for a 59 on Saturday – a 13-under 59 which is something even more special – and it was one of those rare performances that has to be celebrated no matter how the weekend turned out.

The question that came up in one discussion was where does a 59 rank among all the amazing one-off sports feats we rarely see.

Is it a 60-point NBA game?

Would have to be 60 because we’re so many 50-point nights that they are

A 20-strikeout MLB game?

The way bullpens are used these days that’s even more rare than a perfect day.

A six-for-six day at the plate?

See bullpens and specialists out of them and know how hard that is?

How about a five-goal pucks game?

Teams don’t score five goals. Do players?

But you know what? They all come because you get a break and that’s one of the wonders of sport. You get in that “zone” and things are working like they’ve never worked before and somehow the god or forces beyond your control look and say, “yeah, let’s reward this guy or gal and finish this day/game/night off perfectly.

I’ve never had that feeling of basic invincibility, where you know the next play or next shot or next sentence is going to be better than the last but, man, that must feel good, no?

Too bad Hadwin didn’t go on to win the tournament for all that would have meant career-wise but that’s a magical number no one can take away from him.

For all your Raptors entertainment needs this evening, check out my man D. Feschuk. I’m on a stupid early flight to Memphis to hang out for a day and see what I can scare up in the way of a story.

It’ll be airport to arena to hotel to work to the Rum Boogie Café’s Juke Joint for early music and then catfish at the Blues City Café in the back bar where there’s a couple of good TVs that hopefully have NBA-TV so I can catch the game.

If not, get on the tweeter machine or e-mail and keep me up to date, please.

The DeRozan new sucks for the Raptors, doesn’t it?

The timing couldn’t be worse because they’re in the middle of this ghastly slump – ghastly being relative given that they’re 28-16 and stuff happens to every team over the course of the year – but losing their offensive anchor for even a couple of games will be hard to overcome.

I don’t know who’ll fill the offensive void, I’d say it’s Terry Time but he’s turning back into Terrence, but I don’t know if that’s the biggest issue.
They’ll score – it might not be the same guy every night but they’ll score. The issue is going to be their collective psyches because this latest news is just piling on to a team that has having a hard time summoning the mental energy to get through this time of year.

I don’t know if shoulders will droop more now when things to south without DeRozan to calm down segments of the game but that’s one of the things to watch for.