Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week, they discuss standout moments from the NHL and NBA Drafts, the Coyotes speaking frankly and FIFA's famous foam.
Bruce Arthur, Toronto Star: My thumb is up to the NBA. Here's why. The NBA draft is a show about possibilities, and that's fun. Then, Thursday night, midway through the first round, Adam Silver stopped the proceedings to tell a story about a prospect named Isaiah Austin, whose career ended last week after he was diagnosed with a disease called Marfan Syndrome. Then Silver stepped up to make Austin a ceremonial pick on behalf of the entire Association. They took a moment about the cruel end of possibility, and the NBA made it beautiful. Best moment in draft history, hands down.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is up to Don Maloney, general manager of the newly named Arizona Coyotes - and yeah, that sounds weird - for his unusual honesty in explaining why the club has chosen to buy out top-line centre, Mike Ribeiro. Normally you'd get a little “blah blah blah” from an NHL GM on why a player was being let go. But Maloney was more than clear here: he said the team didn't want to put up with Ribeiro's behavioral issues, could not tolerate them going forward and could not have him part of the team anymore. The Coyotes, who couldn't afford lunch a year or two ago let alone buying someone out, will be paying Ribeiro $2 million a year for the next six years just to go away.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is up to one of the great sporting advances of the past decade. Baseball's expanded replay? Advanced stats? Heck, no. I'm talking about the so-called felony foam world cup referees have been spraying on the field to mark the spot for free kicks and, more importantly, delineate where defenders can set their wall. This low-tech marvel, which looks like shaving cream and dissipates in a minute, eliminates time wasting and the inevitable cheating by defenders who try to creep closer to the spot. While baseball needed a replay room in New York, FIFA found an inexpensive way to literally lay down the law. The gimmick belongs in the sports hall of foam. Sorry.
Dave Naylor, TSN: My thumb is up to the sons of athletes who chose their own path to make a name for themselves. I'm refering to the selection of Elfrid Payton Jr. in this week's NBA Draft, going 10th overall to the Philadelphia 76ers. Payton is the son of CFL Hall-of-Famer Elfrid Payton - better known as SWAC to some - who played for five CFL teams including Baltimore, Montreal and Winnipeg. Like recent NHL draft picks Darnell Nurse and Seth Jones - whose fathers played in the CFL and NBA respectively - Payton put his good athletic genes to use in another sport. It's always a nice story to see a young athlete follow in his father's footsteps. But it's a little more interesting to see them go their own way.