February 15, 2012
Buffery: Quit cheering the enemy
By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - If I’m Jose Calderon and the Toronto Raptors, I’m not at all happy with the excessive cheering for Jeremy Lin at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night.
The ACC is supposed to be the Raptors home court, yet there were legions of Lin fans jumping up and down and screaming and waving Lin signs (many asking Lin to be their Valentine, and not just the women), and cheering like crazy every time the Knicks’ point guard made a free throw.
Now, I get it. Jeremy Lin is a great story — for the NBA, for fans outside of North America and especially for the New York Knicks. And the kid came up huge against the Raptors (suspect defence and turnovers aside). I love the Jeremy Lin story. But the ACC is supposed to be the Raptors’ home court.
It’s a shame that Toronto fans, while loyal and enthusiastic, are so fluffy. Do you think those Lin supporters would get away with their sis-boom-bah act in places like Philadelphia? No one wants violence at a basketball game, but, frankly, there has to be some sort of intimidation factor in your home barn. Yeah, some Raptors fans attempted to boo down the Lin supporters when the point guard was launching free throws near the end of the game, but it wasn’t enough. It’s the same if the Toronto crowd cheers on Steve Nash, the so-called Captain Canada, or that stiff Hedo Turkoglu or anyone other than a Raptor. True Raptors fans should let it be known that they’re not happy. A little intimidation can be good for the soul.
The Raptor players may say one thing for the record, but you know they weren’t impressed with all that cheering for Lin — especially when their own point guard Calderon was playing his ass off.
HORSE TRADER BURKE
With the NHL trade deadline fast approaching, you have to figure that Leafs GM Brian Burke is getting antsy. And he should be. The word is, the Leafs are looking for a big, top-six forward. But the real concern at this point has to be the goaltending. There’s no way Burke can know what he has in James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson. One game they’re up, the other they’re down. And neither has a track record in terms of consistent play for an extended period of time.
As the Feb. 27 deadline looms, Big Burkie’s going to have to make a very risky decision: Either do nothing and gamble that Reimer or The Monster catch fire and carry the Leafs into the playoffs. Or, give up some assets and make a trade for a proven veteran goaltender for the stretch run. Burke’s a known horse trader, but whatever decision he makes, it’s going to be a huge gamble. He knows, however, that his team is not going to make the playoffs unless one of his goaltenders gets hot.
WHERE ARE ALL THE COMEBACK KIDS?
One of the problems I have with this era of NHL hockey is the lack of comebacks. Fans love comebacks, but with scoring at a premium and coaches employing traps and boring defensive schemes, comebacks are all too rare in NHL hockey today. For instance: Trailing after the second period in 23 games this season, the Winnipeg Jets have yet to record a single comeback victory. Five teams have recorded only one win when trailing after two. The Leafs are 2-21-4 (.074) when trailing after two. In the NHL, if your favourite team is trailing after two periods, you might as well go to bed.
WHILE I’M AT IT
There are reports that former NBA star Allen Iverson has blown $154 million in earnings. Iverson spent millions on his incredibly large posse, which he used to take on all road trips. The posse included a personal hair stylist and tattoo artist. Apparently, the posse did not include an accountant.
Also: Now that the Davis Cup is over for Canada, can we go back to ignoring tennis?
WEENIE OF THE WEEK
Liverpool footballer Luis Suarez. In his second game back after serving an eight-game suspension for racially abusing Manchester United player Patrice Evra, Suarez refused to shake Evra’s hand before a match at Old Trafford.