This may surprise you, so please make sure you're holding onto something: Johnny Weir, figure skater and Lady Gaga fan, is gay. He said so in his new book. But he said more, so we have some of that; Leaf coach Ron Wilson's master motivational strategies and LeBron James reveling in his old teams' failings and other stuff at Seven in the morning below.
1. Did Ron Wilson learn this at a special clinic?
You don't get to coach nearly 1,300 games in the NHL and win 600 of them - as Ron Wilson did with the surging Leaf's win over the San Jose Sharks last night - without being part psychologist, part counselor, part big brother, part mean Daddy, right? That's what makes great coaches - not just tactics, but nuances, subtleties and all that. So what did Wilson do when he really, really, wanted to have his current team beat his old team and pick up a milestone win along the way? He paid them. Never would have thought of that: On those special nights when a player faces off against his former team for the first time, he typically throws some extra motivation onto the table for his teammates in the form of a few of his hard-earned dollars.Money is placed prominently on the board in the dressing room with the proceeds going one of two ways: either to the one who scores the game-winner on that night or into a team fund for future bonding-like functions. Fittingly on Tuesday, the money nailed to the board in the Leafs dressing room came from Ron Wilson. It's safe to say he was thrilled to have it taken off his hands. Wilson became just the seventh coach in NHL history to record 600 career wins as the Leafs edged the Sharks 4-2 at HP Pavilion, behind another stellar performance from rookie James Reimer. "It's pretty special," said a beaming Wilson, following his team's fourth consecutive win. "I think only six other guys have done it; you don't see it very often."The best thing is we managed to find a way to do it here." The 55-year-old Wilson coached in San Jose for five seasons (206 wins) before he was let go in the summer of 2008 with the Sharks continually failing to meet postseason expectations. The opportunity to accomplish the milestone in defeat of his former team was a cause that his team could rally around.
2. Johnny Weir: Football players just as gay as figure skaters!
Really? That would be pretty sad if true, as that would mean there's a lot of pretty repressed guys in the NFL. I'm sure there are some. Anyway, I'm not that big a figure skating fan, though I do acknowledge the ridiculous athleticism, blah, blah, blah. My problem in general is with sports where costumes matter. That's hard for me to get over. But I am a Johnny Weir fan. He's so over-the-top he's cool. The US figure skating star has an autobiography out in which he came out, officially, as gay. And good for him, and us, because Johnny Weir is one of those people who just can't help being interesting. Here's some thoughts on why he didn't bother to state the obvious earlier: I live in a generation where it doesn't matter: "Show us who you are individually, what are your strengths, what can you bring to the table?" I'm a two-time Olympic athlete. I'm an author now, I'm a recording artist, I'm a performer, I'm accepted all over the world. I don't throw it in anyone's face that I'm gay.
And on why he athletes in general aren't falling over themselves to come out of the closet: Statistically, I'd say there are about as many gay figure skaters as there are gay football players. The majority are straight. There are just those few exceptions and those are the ones who have gotten picked on and followed over the years. I think it's much easier to sell to the masses, a burly strong male athlete that wants a wife and kids and drives trucks and gets dirty. That's maybe more easily marketable. That's a bit sad but that's what the world has come down to
You know what would be good reading? A tell-all book by a libidinous non-gay male figure skater. Not holding my breath, but you never know.
3. Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph continue to star at the University of Texas:
Maybe someone out there has a better memory that me: have two Canadian true freshman ever has such a significant impact at a major D1 NCAA program as Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson have had so far? Last night Texas trounced Texas Tech on the road to start the Big 12 season and the pair from the GTA combined for 35 points on 12-of-21 shooting. Thompson, in particular, was big: T ristan Thompson plays with the talent of somebody earmarked for stardom. He speaks with the perspective and intelligence of a player who understands such attainment requires time.Thompson, a freshman, scored 20 points Tuesday night as 12th-ranked Texas defeated Texas Tech 83-52 in the Longhorns' Big 12 opener. The 6-foot-8 Thompson converted 7 of 11 shots, adding six rebounds and two blocks. With Thompson leading the way, the Longhorns outscored Tech 50-26 in the paint. When he was finished, Thompson explained that he has much to learn about proper positioning near the basket, passing to his teammates and making the right decisions. "The season's a process," Thompson said. "Every game I'm getting more comfortable in the (low post)."Texas coach Rick Barnes has urged Thompson to establish position closer to the basket. During at least one recent game, Barnes told other Longhorns not to pass Thompson the ball unless he had one foot in the lane. Barnes said Thompson has made progress. "We like what he's doing," Barnes said. "He got deep post up. He had it the other night against Connecticut (when he hit 6 of 9 shots), and we didn't get him the ball."