As a fan of SPORT, I refuse to watch the media circus that is currently taking place on ESPN and all other affiliates.

How has this become such a spectacle? I get it that he is arguably one of the greatest players in the game right now. That’s fine. I get it that he will be making a huge decision that will change the lives of many people and corporations. That’s also fine. What I don’t get is the hour long television prime time event, given the name that sounds like it should be an episode of the Apprentice.

How do you justify this?

PR is a beautiful thing. It’s the difference between Nibs and Twizzlers.

The twist.

He’s donating the funds to his Boys & Girls Club? ok… he’s actually donating the advertising dollars from the ‘event’ to the Boys & Girls Club… it’s a great act of social responsibility. Kind of. The man will have so much money at his disposal that the money from the press conference will be nothing to him, and yes, everything to those boys & girls. But the money that stems from the press conference and all the hype (not discounting his skill level) will amount to much more over the years. Jersey sales, ticket sales, licensing deals, endorsements, hell, property value – all of this will rise wherever the ‘King’ decides to move, and yes, should he leave Cleveland it will have the opposite effect, but the footprint is in the sand.

Every story can be spun, and yes Lebron looks like the ‘good guy’ for making these donations, and ESPN is the gremlin who is making this a spectacle on national TV. But it’s the principle of the matter. WHY do you need to do this on national TV going into the weekend? It’s the reason why all press conferences are held. Publicity. Of course the media and fans are going to find out one way or another – why tarnish the integrity of sport while you’re at it?

He stayed in Cleveland.

Looking through our blog posts, it just dawned on us that April 2010 marks the one year anniversary of the The PLAYmakers blog.

As such, we wanted to take the opportunity to say

THANK YOU to all our readers for your continued interest and support of TO PLAY.

We look forward to celebrating many more anniversaries!

The PLAYmakers invite YOU (yeah that’s right, YOU-the person reading this) to send us topics of interest you would like us to write about or perhaps you may want to consider being a guest blogger for TO PLAY (we like those:)). Check back and check back often as you just never know who may stop by to give us their insights, stories, or pictures!

Happy Weekend Friends!

The PLAYmakers

There is something about this time of year that has everyone in a bit of a frenzy. Perhaps it’s because mother nature is ready to give us some nice weather (or atleast a taste of it) or perhaps it’s because it’s just that time of year.

April marks the beginning of baseball season (GO JAYS GO) and soccer season (TFC…) and unfortunately for our Raps, the end of basketball season. It marks the beginning of patio weather and “I will do anything to be out side right now.”

For many, this time of year signals “it’s time TO PLAY.”

Our challenge to you is: TO PLAY and play well. Get out there, enjoy the nice weather, join a team, learn a sport, experience a sport. PLAY. Spring has sprung. It’s time TO PLAY my friends!

Come one, come all, It’s Time TO PLAY!

Join the playmakers and our favourite people as we take in the action when the Toronto Raptors take on the Chicago Bulls in what could be one of the most exciting games of the season. The Raps currently sit in the 8th and final spot of the playoffs while the Bulls are ONE game back. In what could be the “turning point” of our season, join us for the 2nd last home game of the season. COME TO PLAY!

Read this article in the March 15th issue of Sports Illustrated, and I couldn’t NOT post it – it was written by Chris Ballard, author The Art of a Beautiful Game.



Next month my father turns 71, and by all measures medical and practical he shouldn’t be playing basketball. Six years ago he had both knees replaced, the eroded cartilage switched out for titanium joints. Doctors told him never to run again. Then last year his right shoulder—his shooting shoulder—started to go. Inflammation, the doc said. It’s therapy or surgery.

For many people Phil’s age that would have been that. Time to retire the rec specs, hone the putting stroke, buy some Rockports. But of course giving up a game isn’t merely giving up a game. My dad grew up in Indiana, where a jump shot is required as proof of citizenship. His father played semipro ball, teaching Phil how to start his shot low and release it high, launching J’s as if out of a shower stall. Dad continued to play through school, then through the long days and short nights of parenthood and medical residency, sneaking out for lunchtime games of pickup.

For my older brother and me, hoops was the language of family. We never “talked it out” with Dad, a laconic, humble Midwesterner who can make a 45-minute drive in near silence feel comfortable. His idea of a heart-to-heart was preaching the prudence of bounce passes; our dialogue came in games of three-on-three on our makeshift backyard court, Phil taking it to the other dads. We spent countless twilight hours playing H-O-R-S-E at the park, and often the only sound was the hiss of the ball and the shiiing! of its arrival into the metal net. Who needed words—wasn’t the meaning clear?

As my brother and I got older, the connection held fast. There was the time, 15 years ago, when the two of us had a playoff game in a high-level Philly rec league and only three guys showed up. With no other options, we called home, where my parents were in the middle of a nice lamb dinner.

“Dad, any chance you can play tonight?”


“Um, right now?”

Dad put down his fork and 10 minutes later he was at the gym, hightops in hand. Some people ask their fathers for a car loan; we ask ours to play the top of a makeshift four-man zone on a full stomach, a 55-year-old in sweatpants trying to stop dribble penetration from 23-year-old former college players. We almost won, too.

So it struck me like a thunderclap last year when I heard the teenager at the gym say, “Who’s the old guy?” The kid was standing at midcourt and pointing at Phil, but he couldn’t be talking about my dad, right? He wasn’t old. Sure, my brother and I usually rigged the teams so we could play with Phil, and yes, he had become mainly a half-court spot-up shooter, and granted, his hair was gray and his knee braces thick. But the old guy? I wanted to tell the kid he could learn a thing or seven about ball movement and court presence from watching this old guy, tell him how Phil used to be able to jump out of the gym, but I knew how stupid it would sound. Dad spent all those years fighting the impulse to protect me out on the court; I owed it to him to do the same.

Then again, if the kid wondered why Phil was out there, well, it was a fair question. Why choose to endure an afternoon of searing shoulder pain to get banged around by men half your age when you could be sitting in a golf cart like most self-respecting 70-year-old doctors, talking about mutual funds? Many days at the Y, Phil’s the oldest player by 30 years. And since pickup basketball is survival of the fittest—win or get off the court—every twentysomething he guards sizes him up as an easy mark.

So why keep playing? Dad doesn’t talk about it, but I have an idea. Jack Kirk, who ran marathons well into his 90s, once said, “You don’t stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running,” and surely this is part of the reason. There’s the joy of competition, too, but there’s something else. When I asked my mom what playing basketball means to Phil, she didn’t hesitate: “With his boys? How about everything.”

Two months ago Dad and I were on the same team at the Y. As usual, the defense sagged off the old guy, daring Phil to shoot and, as usual, he hesitated. But he hit the first shot, and then a three. Emboldened, Dad went in the post and unfurled a little jump hook. Money! Then an up-and-under, spinning away from the defense like a creaky ballerina and bringing a whoop from the sideline. After winning two games, we faced a stacked team. Soon, the score was tied at 19, next basket wins.

By my count Dad had hit seven of his eight attempts. Yet the defense again left him open in the corner. As he caught the ball, he ignored his shoulder and the two men racing at him and his balky knees, and pushed his shot up and out, just like his dad taught him, just like he taught us.

And then, the moment we all play for, no matter our age. As the ball dropped through the net clean, I roared in triumph and the opposing players argued about who left the old guy open. And Phil—well, as usual, he didn’t say anything.

But he did smile.

Hey Everyone,

It’s GUEST BLOGGER TIME! Today’s Guest Blogger is Marysia Czarski from Velocity-Partnerships ( The blog below is from her original post made on February 25th, 2010.

What does a Gold Medal Performance look like to you?

Last night (February 24th) Joannie Rochette won a bronze medal in women’s figure skating. If I was to leave it there, you might have a number of opinions about that result. The background to this story, as you probably know is that Joannie’s Mom and Dad had joined her in Vancouver late last week. On Saturday night, three days before Joannie was to be on the ice, her mother died of a heart attack. Her Mom was only 55. Joannie could have reacted in so many ways including completely withdrawing from the games. Joannie chose to continue her Olympic quest and in fact laid down the two best performances of her skating career. And she won the bronze medal, however for Joannie, and for Canada it was golden in every way possible. For Joannie, she said just competing was a fantastic result for her.
I asked the question ‘what does a gold medal performance look like to you’ because it is an interesting inquiry into ‘results’. Before you knew the background to Joannie, you may not have thought that her result was outstanding. When you hear from it the context of what has happened in her life over the last week, suddenly it changes light, and you realize she was brilliant and inspiring. Therefore the leadership lesson from Joannie’s experience is keep the context in perspective when looking at results. Know what ‘gold’ looks like for you and your business team, and why that is important. Finally whatever ‘gold’ does look like, ensure everyone understands it, can be inspired by it, and knows how to work towards it so they can work ‘inside’ of that shared commitment, instead of just ‘working’. That transparency, engagement and focus has the greatest chance of allowing results to emerge that may even pleasantly surprise you.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 26th, 2010 at 12:19 pm and is filed underUncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You canleave a response, or trackback from your own site.

If you are interested in being a guest blogger for TO PLAY, please email

You know you want to. We know you want to. So let’s make it happen. 

On Sunday April 11th, 2010, come join the PLAYmakers and everyone you know as our Toronto Raptors take on the Chicago Bulls in their second last home game of the season.

The discount tickets are in, we just need you to make the call. Bring your family and friends and let’s make this event one to remember!