Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss the Philadelphia 76ers, Gregg Popovich, Royal and Ancient Golf Club and Bill Belichick.
Bruce Arthur, National Post
My thumb is up to the Philadelphia 76ers, proud possessors of a win streak for the first time since two weeks before the Olympics began. Any task worth doing is worth doing with commitment, and while you can argue whether tanking to get a good draft pick should be worth doing, that's the system, and the Sixers have been crafting a masterpiece. Before Saturday night they had lost 26 in a row, 29 of 30, and 36 of 39, and 27 straight losses would have a set a new record for consecutive defeats. But Saturday in Philly, the Sixers pulled one out, blowing out the hapless Detroit Pistons by 25 and getting a standing ovation. It was a raft in an ocean, a blip in the sky. But now, no matter what, they can say this: it could have been worse.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media
My thumb is up to Gregg Popovich, who just might be the greatest coach in the history of professional sport. And I don't say that lightly with terrific respect for the work done by Scotty Bowman and Phil Jackson and Bill Belichick, and yeah, certainly Vince Lombardi. Put your championships aside for a moment - this is the 15th straight season in which Popovich's San Antonio Spurs have won between 50 and 63 games in the NBA. To put that into perspective, that's the same number of 50-win seasons combined over that time that the Knicks, Celtics, Bulls, Warriors, Nets, Wizards, Pacers, 76ers, Bobcats, Hawks, and Raptors have won. Having Tim Duncan helps. But Duncan at 37 is slowing down. Heading to another 60 win season, Gregg Popovich doesn't seem to be.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated
My thumb is up to the R&A, for finally entering a new century. The 20th. The Royal and Ancient is urging its membership to allow women to become members of the venerable St. Andrews golf club in Scotland when it votes in September. This is a mere 260 years after the home of golf was founded, which qualifies as progress. Two other courses in the Open Championship rotation, Muirfield and Royal St. George's, have yet to tiptoe down this perilous path to equality. By comparison, the nice gentlemen at Augusta National, which started accepting female members in 2012 - hello, Condoleeza Rice! - look like wild-eyed progressives.
Dave Hodge, TSN
My thumb is up to New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, for making me seem less crazy than others think I am. I have been saying for years that the complexities of video review are confusing and unnecessary, and that a better system would be a very simple system that allows anything to be challenged. And no less an authority than Belichick is leading a push in this direction in the NFL. Never mind "this can be challenged under certain circumstances, but not that under any circumstances"--as Belichick says, "if a coach thinks his team has been victimized by a bad call, he should be able to question it, and it's up to him to use the limited number of challenge flags with that in mind." As I say, "challenges might actually be fewer--same with wrong calls--and replay rules would be simpler. You can challenge those assumptions, but Bill Belichick won't.