The Knicks selected Tim Hardaway Jr. as their first pick in last Thursday’s NBA Draft. If the name rings a bell, it is because he is the son of former Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat star guard Tim Hardaway. The junior Hardaway is seven inches taller than his dad, but the Knicks are undoubtedly hoping that his outside jump shot is as good as his father’s and that he is a better rebounder and defender.
The following day Hardaway made an appearance at Citi Field, where he tried his luck at the Mets’ indoor batting cage. His swing was awkward but he kept making solid contact. He admitted that he wasn’t much of a baseball fan and did not play Little League.
The trip to Flushing gave the newest Knick a chance to chat with media and fans in a relaxed setting. Tim was extremely personable as he displayed a quick wit and showed no signs of being a prima donna in spite of growing up in privilege, as well as being a star player at the University of Michigan, which coincidentally is also Mets CEO Fred Wilpon’s alma mater.
The Brooklyn Nets made Duke center Mason Plumlee their top pick. He reminded their scouts of another Duke center who had success with the team back in the 1970s, Mike Gminski. Plumlee’s biggest drawback may be his name which sounds more like that of a partner at a white-shoe law firm than an intimidating 7-foot center.
Former NBA and Christ the King star, as well as Corona native, Craig “Speedy” Claxton was one of the many celebrity attendees who attended a consumer goods trade show, the Art of Luxury, that utilized the glitz of sports to help bring attention to the products of budding entrepreneurs. The event was held at Clyde Frazier’s Wine and Dine Restaurant, and the Knicks legend and restaurateur made an appearance as did 76ers first-round pick center Nerlens Noel and actress-model Carissa Rosario.
Speedy was worried about the future of his fellow Queens native and Hofstra alum, backup 76ers guard Charles Jenkins. “Charles should play on the Sixers NBA Summer League team if they don’t draft a point guard,” he said. “He should skip it if they do because their top pick will get all of the playing time.”
The Sixers did select guard Michael Carter Williams out of Syracuse in the first round but they also traded their All-Star guard Jrue Holiday to New Orleans last Thursday. I am sure Speedy is advising Charles to play in the Summer League so he can display his talents.
The biggest news of the NBA Draft, which was held at the Barclays Center, was the rumored Nets trade with the Boston Celtics that will reportedly send such household names as Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to Brooklyn. Because of the NBA’s free agency rules that require certain contractual matters to be resolved between the teams and some of the players involved in the deal, nothing will be officially announced until July 11. I will reserve comment until then.
Steven Adams, the 7-foot center who was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder, hails from New Zealand, a country that most Americans know very little about.
I mentioned to him that my knowledge of New Zealand is limited to the fact that the 1970s World Wrestling Federation good guy wrestler Tony Garea came from Auckland; that it was the home of the popular rock groups Split Enz and Crowded House; and that it produces terrific pinot noir.
“You are ahead of most people. I have had people ask me if New Zealand is near New York!” he replied. He then laughed when I told him that not only would he be the first New Zealander to play in the NBA but he may very well be the very first to set foot in Oklahoma City.
The Cleveland Cavaliers had the first pick Thursday night, and they surprised everyone by selecting UNLV forward Anthony Bennett, who grew up in Toronto, which made him the first Canadian to ever be the top pick in the history of the NBA Draft.
I asked Bennett whether since a Canadian was chosen first in the NBA Draft, wouldn’t it only be fair if an American, Seth Jones, got chosen first in the NHL Draft, which was scheduled to take place three days later at the Prudential Center in Newark?
“I don’t really like hockey,” he said, clearly risking expulsion from his native land, “but I am pulling for him.”
It turned out that Seth Jones, the son of former NBA player and onetime Nets assistant coach Popeye Jones, was chosen fourth last Sunday by the Nashville Predators. His stentorian speaking style and tall, attractive appearance reminded me of a young Julian Bond, who was a civil rights leader in the 1960s. It could be argued that Julian Bond was Barack Obama before there was Barack Obama.
No one was more elated about Jones’ entry into the National Hockey League than Willie O’Ree, who was the league’s first African-American player and currently works for the NHL in a goodwill ambassadorial capacity. O’Ree told me that he expects Jones to be a very skilled and popular player, but it would be a mistake to expect him to create the interest in hockey that Tiger Woods did in golf fifteen years ago.
The Rangers did not have a first-round draft pick, but the Islanders, who had the 15th pick, selected defenseman Ryan Pulock. Although he comes from a small town in Manitoba, Ryan claimed that he would not be intimidated playing in the New York market and seemed to welcome the throng of reporters who were there to meet him for his press conference as a member of the Islanders.
Nothing against Pulock, but I have a feeling that a lot of female Islanders fans would have preferred their team to have drafted Sweden’s Alex Wennberg, whose movie-star looks defy the stereotypical image of a hockey player. Wennberg went to the Columbus Bluejackets a mere one pick before the Islanders.
The Mets’ NY-Penn League affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones, will play a rare day game next Tuesday as they take on the Lowell Spinners at MCU Park in Coney Island at 11 a.m. One hopes there will be a good ocean breeze that day.
If you head out to the Jersey Shore, try to catch a Lakewood Blueclaws game at beautiful First Energy Park after you enjoy a day at the beach. The Blueclaws are the Phillies’ South Atlantic League affiliate.
Life and style
Camping is a popular summer activity, and having reliable portable lighting is obviously important at night. The Energizer Folding Lantern is a lot lighter than those bulky lanterns that I remember as a kid and throws off a bright white light. Even if you are a city slicker, it is an important device to have in case you lose electricity.
The Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau outdid the New York International Auto Show. Last Thursday, Miami’s official tourism agency held its annual summer New York promotional event this time across the street from Bryant Park. New Yorkers were given the chance to take a ride around the block with the top down in luxurious sports cars from Maserati, Lamborghini and Ferrari. Sure, only a few folks in the Miami area can afford such vehicles, but selling a fantasy is crucial for an area whose top industry is tourism. In short, this was a brilliant idea.
Anyone who is a fan of mystery novels should try to catch Thriller Fest, thrillerfest.com, which will take place at the Grand Hyatt Hotel New York from July 11 to 13. Author Anne Rice, who helped revive the popularity of vampire novels, will be interviewed and probably take some Q-and-A from the attendees on July 12.
Here are a couple of items from the mea culpa department.
Last week I wrote about General Mills launching lines of Candy Cane Chex Party Mix and Sweet Potato Chex Party Mix for the holiday season with the assumption that they would be sold in a pre-made manner. In fact you have to unleash your inner Betty Crocker because you have to supply the ingredients. For more information log onto chexpartymix.com.
A few weeks ago I mentioned the terrific Shipwreck! Pirates & Treasure exhibition that is taking place Discovery Times Square. I referred to Edward Teach as the pirate “Bluebeard” instead of “Blackbeard.” The late Mr. Teach can take comfort in the fact that I did not call him “Greybeard.’