Morey hit a nerve, but also the mark
Knocking it around on a variety of sporting topics. ...
• You know the proverbial saying about the pot calling the kettle black?
That's what came to mind when I read comments made by LeBron James on Monday about Daryl Morey's now infamous tweet on Oct. 4.
Tweeted the Houston general manager: "Fight For Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong." This sent all of China into a tizzy.
China's state-run institutions suspended ties with the Rockets two days later, and the country's relations with the NBA turned frigid overnight. The business relationship with the two entities is enormous. There are said to be 800 million NBA fans in China. The NBA has a $1.5 billion contract with a Chinese streaming company, and a media rights deal and merchandise sales are substantial.
Morey's tweet was ill-timed in that the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets were about to play a pair of exhibition games in China. On the other hand, that's probably why Morey delivered the message when he did.
But Morey couldn't have anticipated the firestorm it created. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver did his best to smooth things over, but it was an uncomfortable situation for all, and players — James among them — were not made available to media through the week.
A week later, speaking to a media contingent before a preseason game against Golden State at Staples Center, the Lakers' superstar said Morey "wasn't educated on the situation at hand."
Nike is one of the companies that does plenty of business with China — $1.7 billion during the most recent sales quarter. James has a lifetime endorsement deal with Nike worth more than $1 billion. His sneakers generated $340 million in sales in the most recent reporting year.
So really, James is concerned here with his financial empire and little else.
But with China's abysmal record with human rights violations, who really is uneducated about the situation?
Morey, for whatever problems he caused his employer and the NBA, was on the right side of the moral issue on this one.
• Maybe Silver should have brought Portland's Mike Tammen to China to mediate. He has plenty of international experience.
Tammen's most recent accomplishment came in Lisbon, Portugal, where he captained the U.S. team to victory over Germany in the championship match of the Von Cramm Cup — the senior men's 60-and-over equivalent of the Davis Cup.
The 61-year-old pro at The Racquet Club — known as the "Slammin' Salmon" when he was a fixture on the Northwest open men's tennis scene in the 1980s — was a member of the winning doubles team at Lisbon, marking the seventh team Davis Cup title of his long career. Tammen also has about 45 USTA national age-group singles and doubles crowns since he began to play national competition in his 30's.
The former Brigham Young standout has been a member of 15 U.S. teams in international play through his senior career. Tammen was on the winning side of title matches against Spain in 2015 and Italy in 2017 in the Austria Cup — the senior men's 55-and-over Davis Cup equivalent.
Why has Tammen continued to play tennis through four decades of excellence?
"I like playing," he said. "I like competing. I like winning. The guys you are around are the greatest players in the world for that age. They're fun to be around. I love to travel. The venues are spectacular. It's become a way of life for me. I want to keep doing it."
• Sticking with the global theme: One of the perks of being president of the Winterhawks is the opportunity to travel abroad.
Doug Piper recently returned from a six-day trip to Switzerland, where he served as an advisor for Lausanne HC of the Swiss Pro League. Winterhawks owner Bill Gallacher owns the Lausanne team. Piper was on hand for the opening of the new 9,600-seat Vaudoise Arena as the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers beat Lausanne 4-3 in an exhibition. Vaudoise will be the site for the 2020 World Championships next May.
"I helped them with strategies, sponsorships and some broadcast stuff," Piper said. "It's a beautiful arena, with a state-of-the-art scoreboard and great restaurants in the building."
• Looks like the star of the 2019-20 Winterhawks is going to be the man between the pipes.
Goaltender Joel Hofer has been named to the West WHL roster that will face Team Canada in the CIBC Canada-Russia series Nov. 13 and 14 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
The 6-5, 170-pound Hofer was recently named the Canadian Hockey League Goaltender of the Week while posting a 2-0-0-1 record in three road games.
• Jim Barnett will no longer serve as TV analyst for the Golden State Warriors, and he'll be working radio only for road games during the upcoming season. At a very young 75 years of age, Barnett would prefer to be working every game.
"But I'm happy to be employed," said the former University of Oregon great, who served 34 years as TV analyst for the Warriors. "I loved doing TV. I went to a home (preseason) game and just watched. That's foreign to me.
"It's a transition. It's a change I have to adapt to. Do I really want to be this lazy and work only half the games? I think I'll adjust to that very nicely."
• Guard London Parrantes is an undrafted rookie guard out of Virginia just filling out the preseason roster for the Blazers, and he knows it. Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Kent Bazemore, Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. will handle backcourt responsibilities this season in Portland.
Parrantes signed with the Blazers, anyway. They needed an extra point guard for the preseason, and he figured if he shows enough, he might get a look with another NBA club.
But there's an extra reason — the chance to learn under perhaps the league's No. 1 backcourt.
"You watch 'Dame' and CJ on TV and you see what kind of competitors they are," Parrantes said. "They're completely different people when they're off the court. They're super nice guys. Just being around them has been fun.
"One of the biggest things I've learned is how to turn on that switch. Once the ball is tipped up, everything is out the window and the game is on. I'm trying to learn everything I can from them, day by day."
• Mark Mason will begin his 24th season as the Trail Blazers' public-address announcer next Wednesday when Portland plays host to Denver at Moda Center.
Mason, whose talk show runs from noon to 3 p.m. weekdays on KEX (1190 AM), said his health is "the best it's been in three years."
In 2016, blood clots in his right leg caused him to miss a string of games and snap a streak of more than 900 preseason, regular-season and post-season games at the microphone. Surgeons performed a limb-saving procedure called a fasciotomy. Mason spent three days in intensive care and a week in the hospital. The leg is permanently damaged; he walks with a brace.
Related clots affected his left knee earlier this year, and surgeons performed a bypass in May. He spent the next three months rehabbing and was able to walk 40 miles in September.
"It's a work in progress, but I'm always optimistic," said Mason, who turns 65 on Nov. 10. "I'm hoping I'm at the point where we've turned a corner."
• Ray Langston's distance-running career just keeps on ticking.
Langston completed the Portland Half-Marathon in three hours, 15 minutes on Oct. 7, three weeks after his 85th birthday. He was the oldest competitor, just as he was five years earlier when he ran the race at age 80.
Ten family members walked or ran the race with him.
"I didn't have a very good race," Langston said. "I crashed and burned, but we got through it."
Langston fell at the eight-mile mark, hit his head and sprained an ankle.
Said Langston: "But I bounced up, and (the family) supported me, helping me through, and I made it the rest of the way."
I first wrote about Langston when he set an unofficial world record by running 58 marathons in the span of one year at age 50 in 1984. The Washington High grad didn't start running until he was 44 in 1978.
Then he quit running. Langston didn't run a marathon for 25 years, from 1989-2014, and hadn't run a step until the final year of that period. Langston, who lives in a house behind the 13th green at Columbia Edgewater Country Club, runs eight miles three days a week and plays golf twice a week.
"I still shoot my age from the ladies' tees," he said.
All this despite five bouts with cancer since 2011.
"I'm still hanging in there pretty good," he said.
Langston, who has six children, 13 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, doesn't intend for his racing career to be over.
"If I want to compete a little bit, I should concentrate of doing 10K or 15K races," he said. "But I'm planning to go out there and do (the Portland Half-Marathon) again next year."
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