Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Canadian-Free NBA Finals

I've never been much of a basketball fan. I did, however, catch a bit of game five of the NBA finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics and really enjoyed it. I decided to watch game six which the Celtics won last night to clinch the championship.

I wasn't particularly bothered by the fact that the game was totally one-sided. I was just watching for the spectacle of the whole thing. Kobe Bryant was the only player that I knew. As I watched the other players I found myself wondering who they were and where they had come from.

This morning, I did a little research to see if any Canadians played in last night's game. It turns out that the NBA website contains a comprehensive list of player nationalities. You can check it out here: I was a little surprised to see that, in addition to Steve Nash, there are only three other Canadians in the entire NBA! Where are all the Canadians? Dominating the game of hockey, I suppose!

(p.s. Just as an aside, is anybody else befuddled by the names of the two teams that played in the NBA finals? Why is Celtic pronounced "Sel-tik" rather than "Kel-tik?" Given that the team is presumably named after the Celtic people, it really should be pronounced "Kel-tiks"--look it up in the dictionary. And the Los Angeles Lakers? calling the team the "Lakers" made sense when they were based in Minnesota--the land of 10,000 lakes. But, news flash, there are no freakin' lakes around Los Angeles! Why didn't the team's name change when they moved to Southern California? Just wondering....)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Miracle On Ice," my ass

I burst out laughing when I read Mark Spector's article in the National Post about Ron Wilson, the new coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The article (which you can find here recounts how, in trying to motivate Tony Amonte in the 1996 World Cup, Ron Wilson exhorted him to be Team U.S.A.'s "Paul Henderson." And Amonte's response? "Who the hell is Paul Henderson?"

The article goes on to decry an apparent lack of appreciation for hockey history among Americans. I'm not sure that I agree with this premise. Americans do appreciate hockey history, they just define it narrowly to mean U.S. hockey history.

I learned this first hand when my wife and I first visited the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto four years ago. My wife was keen to see the display dedicated to the U.S. victory over the Soviets in the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. She was apoplectic over the relatively few items--a Team U.S.A. jersey and a couple of other baubles--on display. "But. but, but it was the Miracle on Ice!" she stammered indignantly. "They have a whole movie theater built around that stupid Canada/Soviet series from 1972 and all the Miracle on Ice gets is this? This is ridiculous," she fumed.

My wife didn't buy my argument that the 1980 Olympic victory was really no big deal because Canada didn't send professionals to the Olympics back then. The Canadian team was made up of fourth-rate scrubs. Basically, the U.S. gold was a minor victory at best. My wife remains unconvinced. She still thinks that the U.S. victory over the Soviets in the 1980 Olympics is one of the greatest moments in hockey history. My response? "Miracle on Ice," my ass.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Joe Clark's Doppelganger

I like Joe Clark. He came to my hometown to speak during the 1984 federal election campaign. I know this may sound hard to believe, but he gave one of the most rousing political speeches that I've ever heard. The Progressive Conservative candidate in our riding won in a landslide.

Following my graduation from McGill in 1988, I spent the summer working for what was then known as the Department of External Affairs. Joe Clark was then the Minister of External Affairs and, at the end of the summer, invited the Department's summer interns to his offices in the East Block of the Parliament Buildings. He was a pretty funny guy and we all really enjoyed meeting him. Each intern then had his or her photo taken with Joe. It's not every day that you get your photo taken with a famous politician and the photo of me with Joe is framed and on prominent display in our living room.

I was very pleased to read about the unveiling of Joe's formal portrait to be hung in the House of Commons. Here's a photo of Joe at the ceremony:

Looking at Joe, I realized that he looked a lot like somebody that I'd been seeing a lot of lately. I furrowed my brow, doing a mental inventory of everyone that I'd been in recent contact with. I just couldn't place who he reminded me of.

Several days later, it all became clear. Joe Clark's doppelganger is Hillary Clinton! Check out this photo of Hillary:

It's not just their chins and jowls that match. Check out their noses. They're identical! Eerie....