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  Tue, March 23, 2004


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Good Lord! What a giant ego

By MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

OAKVILLE -- "This," the principal of St. Thomas Aquinas High School reminded the unwashed media, "is a Catholic high school and as such we would expect the appropriate decorum."

Colin McGillicuddy was right. God is everywhere. He was at St. Thomas Aquinas yesterday in the form of a 7-foot-1 basketball player named Ivan Chiriaev. Just ask him.

"The NBA wants Ivan Chiriaev," Ivan Chiriaev said yesterday. "The NBA needs Ivan Chiriaev," added Ivan Chiriaev, who was there to announce Ivan Chiriaev was declaring Ivan Chiriaev eligible for the NBA draft in June.

Just why the NBA needs a 19-year-old-kid who knocked down a measly 16 points a night playing high school ball in Oakville (which no one has yet confused with the scene for Hoosiers II) is anyone's guess but one thing is sure: Ivan Chiriaev is NBA ready. He sounds like a jerk already.

In case you missed it -- perhaps you were mired in the boring details of your inconsequential lives -- a 7-foot-1 basketball player left St. Petersburg in Russia for Oakville in December 2002.

Since then, by virtue of a genetic wild card based in his pituitary, he has become a fashionable, albeit wildly speculative, choice to go in the first two rounds of the NBA draft.

By announcing for the draft, he may have closed the door to any potential scholarship. Ivan, pronounced Eee-van, said he had narrowed his choice of universities to a tidy five: Florida, LSU, Memphis, Syracuse and Iowa State. The winner, he said, would have been Iowa State, because it had the foresight to promise him he could play all five positions. "They were rebuilding for me and I could have made them one of the top 10 in the country," he said.

But the lure of NBA greatness, not to mention millions, was too great.

"I was told I had a great chance to go in the top five," he said, and again, who are we to argue with a deity. "If not the top five, then a lottery pick."

Among the other caveats:

"I will be the leader of the World team at the Hoops Summit," a USA basketball event that pits the world's best against the top U.S. high school players in an under-20 exhibition game. Not a player, mind you, a leader. "America and the world will get to see me play," he said, which will explain why all fighting across the world will cease April 4. Just thought you'd like to know.

If he does say so himself Ivan Chiriaev has a great work ethic. "That's what will make me an NBA all-star," he said.

Chiriaev said he can play point guard, but his chosen NBA position probably will be shooting guard. He stated this in the event some wayward NBA coach did not know which was the proper place to play him.

As a Catholic and, therefore, nuanced to the kind of decorum Colin McGillicuddy values so highly, it falls to me to, gently, point out a couple differences between Jesus, the deity under whose roof this news conference was called, and Ivan Chiriaev, who it appears merely thinks he's God.

THINKS HE'S GOD

First, Jesus was humble. He was a pacifist. He did not, as Chiriaev did, get himself suspended for 10 days for a fight with another student.

Second, Jesus spoke to everyone, tax collectors, prostitutes, assorted rounders. Ivan Chiriaev, through the helpful Colin McGillicuddy, informed one and all he would answer one, and only one question from newspaper reporters. Television guys were granted one-on-one interviews.

I didn't mind. Like many, I have often toyed with the question, if you could ask God only one question, what would it be?









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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