1. Donaghy Problems: The Tim Donaghy situation is clearly the NBA’s biggest nightmare on many levels. But what do we really know about this whole thing yet? We know that Donaghy had a gambling problem, that he owed the wrong people money, and that there was a possibility that he was calling games in such a way to affect point spreads. It is not clear how this will all play out. David Stern has been very sensitive to any accusations of anything that implied that his product was anything less than 100% pure honest. So, to have an NBA embroiled in a heavy duty scandal is going to have repercussions. NBA refs are so heavily scrutinized by the NBA already that it’s hard to know how much more the NBA can do but I’m sure something will be done. Indeed, Stern already has had a press conference and the matter is on the NBA’s front page right now. In the end, so long as Donaghy is a lone bad actor, this scandal will blow over leaving a wound but the NBA is not in peril as a whole. Still, anything that even potentially threatens the value of a billion dollar industry has to be taken very seriously.
2. FIBA Games: In playing news, the FIBA games will start soon and this will be a welcome break from the Donaghy affair. In this case, the Western Hemisphere countries will all be converging on Las Vegas to for this Olympic qualifying tournament. As usual, the United States is the prohibitive favorite. Here’s a look at some of the recognizable player on each roster…
Argentina: The usual suspects are here. Former Temple point guard Pepe Sanchez, Luis Scola (who just signed with Houston), Ruben Wolkowisky (former Sonic/Celtic), Carlos Delfino (Toronto), and Federic Kammerichs (former Portland draft pick). Notably missing are Manu Ginobili, Fabricio Oberto, and Walter Herrmann all opted out of playing. Both Manu and Oberto were reportedly dissuaded by Gregg Popovich, who felt that the Spurs’ long season meant that they need rest. Herrmann is also looking to establish himself in the NBA (he finished pretty strong but the Bobcats are now loaded at the small forward slot) and probably does not want to risk injury.
Brazil: Brazil’s roster is a little touch-and-go. The official roster lists a bunch of NBA heavyweights, Nene Hilario, Leandro Barbosa, and Anderson Varejao. Barbosa, however, is reportedly going to beg out with elbow pain. Nene and Varejao are supposedly committed but Varejao doesn’t have a contract yet and Nene has had knee issues so I could see either being pressured out by their agents and or teams. Rafael Araujo (free agent last with Utah) and Alex Garcia (played with the Hornets in 2003-04) are also on the roster. For those who remember, Oscar Schmidt is finally gone for good, having retired in 2003 (he’ll be 50 next year!).
Canada: No Steve Nash…no chance. The current roster does have some quasi-known names: Andy Rautins (Syracuse) and Sheray Thomas (Kentucky). We also don’t see Jamaal Magloire, who was mentioned as a potential Team Canada player for years. Here is my All-Time Canadian team:
PG: Steve Nash
SG: Ernie Vandeweghe
SF: Rick Fox
PF: Jamaal Magloire
C: Bill Wennington (Todd Macculloch’s injuries knock him off the list and Bob Houbregs has an argument as an early player)
Virgin Islands: Since Tim Duncan is only eligible as an American (he’s bound to the first team he chose to play for internationally), Raja Bell and form NBAer David Vanterpool (played with the Bullets back in 2000-01) are the only recognizable names.
Mexico: Again, we don’t expect to the see the NBA guys to play. In this case, the NBA guy is Ed Najera, who I don’t really remember ever playing for the Mexico in the Olympics. Horacio Llamas played briefly for Phoenix in the late 1990s. He was quite big if not graceful.
Panama: Absolutely no big names here. Ruben Garces played 13 games for Phoenix and Golden State in 2000-01 and Ed Cota (UNC) is eligible to play but that’s about it.
Puerto Rico: They are always a tough in these types of competitions and relish trying to go toe-to-toe with the U.S.. The usual suspects are around: Carlos Arroyo and Daniel Santiago are the only NBA regulars but Rick Apodoca and Elias Ayuso have hit a ton of threes. Big Peter John Ramos (Washington) has had some NBDL time. Mainstay Jose Ortiz finally retired this year and is reportedly looking to run for the Puerto Rican senate.
Uruguay: Always near the bottom of the tournament and the only name you might recognize is Esteban Batista who was near the back of the bench for a bad Atlanta team.
Venezuela: The only name of note is Oscar Torres who had some decent moments with the Rockets as a three-point shooter. Otherwise, the best they got is the memory of Carl Herrera, who is now 40 years old.