BOSTON – For every East Coast resident who was up real late or took a bathroom break at about 2:30am on July 6th, all hell broke loose on the NBA Free Agent #KawhiWatch when they checked their phones in the middle of the night. It was like wildfire spreading across #NBATwitter, and it was mesmerizing.
Once upon a time, when the NBA Draft of some 10-to-20 rounds was staged in late June, each pick was called by the late Commissioner Larry O’Brien before he passed the torch to Basketball Operations veep – the late Joe Axelson – who would eventually pass along the moderator/emcee role to Director of Operations Matt Winick in about the 5th round. It went for 10am to 6pm, with some teams passing on picks because their team rep (think the late Chick Hearn of the LA Lakers) had to head to the the airport.
After the Draft was in the books and top picks introduced to the hometown fans and media, NBA teams such as the Boston Celtics shut-down their offices for a full week on or about the 4th of July and whether you liked it or not, if you were a Celtics front office employee, you took a week of vacation to celebrate America’s birthday.
From the Celtics’ receptionist Linda Hobbs to PR man in the late Howie McHugh to counsel Jan Volk to President and GM Red Auerbach, everyone took a week off. No home phone calls, no voice mail at work (it didn’t;t exist yet), no email (it, too, didn’t exist for consumers or businesses), no meetings, no scouting, and no trades or no free agent signings, mainly because there weren’t many free agents with the 10-12 or 20-round NBA Draft.
No marketing meetings, no ticket sales drives, no planning for the summer league, no nothing. It was a time when the NBA came to a halt, and one team – the Celtics – were the main reason nothing was operational in the entire league the week or so after the NBA Draft.
Nowadays, the millisecond the NBA Draft concludes, player development and ops guys are scouring the earth to sign a few free agents that the club scouted, liked and went undrafted.
Today, with a full Las Vegas Summer League tipping-off on July 5th, nearly every team in the league is hitting full throttle all week long and that also includes ESPN, the league broadcast airing 83 games on a combo of the Worldwide Leader’s digital assets.
The 2019 Summer League sports teams from Croatia and China amongst its competitive roster of clubs and player talent and they join all 30 NBA teams in the summer round-robin of friendlies. Every NBA team plays a minimum of five games and as many as seven. Last year, the Summer League drew a record 139,972 fans, including a single day record of 17,500 fans (tying a 2017 mark).
HERE NOW, THE NOTES: Today’s news from the Red Sox farm system is highlighted by the fact right-handed pitcher Noah Song, its fourth round of the 2019 MLB First-Year Player Draft, is signed and sealed. He will report to the short-season Single-A Lowell Spinners. … Vice President of Amateur Scouting Mike Rikard made the announcement yesterday. … As of today, 22 of the 40 players selected by Boston in the 2019 MLB First-Year Player Draft have signed contracts, including each of the club’s top 10 picks. … Song graduated from the United States Naval Academy. As a senior in 2019 he went 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 161 strikeouts, leading all of Division I with 15.41 strikeouts per 9.0 innings. He was one of four finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, which honors the top amateur baseball player in the United States based on their athletic ability, sportsmanship, character and overall contribution to the sport. … A “Get Well Soon” message goes out to Tedy Bruschi, former star for the New England Patriots who suffered his second stroke this week. According to his family’s statement, he is recovering nicely. … The IOC this week lifted its suspension of the Kuwait National Federation after citing the federation was operating its sports in a manner unfitting of the Olympic movement. … Kuwait is back in action for the Asian Games. … IOC President Thomas Bach was at the G20 Summit and urged all countries attending to understand the power of sports to unite the world. Said Bach, “I am so grateful that I can ask you personally today to support this precious and unique unifying role of the Olympic Games, making them this great symbol of unity in diversity of all humankind.”
Mike Lee, the Notre Dame business major who once hawked Subway turkey hoagies with the likes of Ryan Howard and Ndamukong Suh, is fighting Caleb “Sweethands” Plant for Plant’s IBF Super Middleweight Championship belt at the MGM Grand Garden Hotel Resort Arena in Las Vegas on July 20. FOX Sports will broadcast the bout as it’s a prelim to the Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman marquee event.
Now a full 11 columns into this journey, let’s spend a few minutes on Dick Young. While I do not idolize him, I do give Young much credit for the glory years of sportswriting when the pundits changed from 100% opinion-mongers to being in the trenches, the lockers and getting the players’ and managers’ POV. … In fact, this marks our 5,300 story here at DSD.
Digital Sports Desk posts a once-a-week Sunday Notes column, entitled: “While We’re Young Ideas.” It’s a throwback of sorts to the days when sportswriting and the baseball beat were the best jobs in the entire sports industry, maybe the entire world. One of those sportswriters was named Dick Young and he wrote “Young Ideas” with a “Diamond Dust” section for notes and quotes. This is a throwback to the days of sports notes writing. We welcome feedback and suggestions (psst, they call ’em pitches) for mentions within “While We’re Young Ideas” or Digital Sports Desk. Please follow and encourage (at least) another person or two to plug into (@DigSportsDesk) (@WhileYoungIdeas) and (@terrylyons).
Here’s a few comments on Dick Young, as compiled by my good bud Dennis D’Agostino for a missive, “Keepers of the Game.”
“There’ll never be another Dick Young,” said NY Daily News columnist Phil Pepe who once wrote a letter back to me after I submitted a “NY Islanders poem to the verse of “The Night Before Christmas.” Continued Pepe, “He was a trailblazer, a pioneer, a leader. With all the negative things there’s much more positive than negative. I knew him as a rival, a colleague, and a boss. His influence in the business is still felt today. He had the foresight to see the transition and what was happening with television, how people were getting their information. A lot of the jargon that we use in baseball came from him. Ribbies for RBI, for instance. The way players talked, he’d write it that way.” … One of his mantras as a columnist was to “”Always take care of your beat man.” That was important, as the beat man (or woman) was with the team 24/7/365 and it was their job to nail all the news. … “Diamond Dust” he once was, and is now, and forever.