PARIS — When one is uncredentialed for the Olympics, yet in Europe anyway, and there is a France-US opener, where is the next best place to be?
Among the French, of course.
That is what brought me Sunday to a sports bar in the 19th district, a spiffy place partly-owned by Boris Diaw and Ronny Turiaf, and I do believe I may have found the secret to Boris’ big belly.
Pictured to your left is the triple cheeseburger on the Menu at Arret de Jeu (Translation: Stoppage of Play), and it is not the biggest burger on the menu. As it was, there was more than a pound of beef on that bad boy, but I could have ordered the “quadruple” for an extra Euro, and quintuple for another Euro, etc.
Memo to Boris and Ronny: It was a quiet day for your business. There were about two dozen basketball fans in the restaurant, they were all whispering so as to not disturb the other patrons, and the only time they went bonkers was when James Harden threw down his windmill dunk.
Other observations were made from afar, being that I am on the wrong side of the White Cliffs of Dover and what not. Here they are:
_ Clearly, and a bit surprisingly, Kevin Love has moved ahead of Andre Iguodala in the rotation. Looks like he earned that spot by grabbing nine rebounds in 13 minutes of the final exhibition game against Spain, and perhaps it is because Love (who follows SH) read Diary, Edition II, which explained his lack of playing time and the reasons behind it.
_ As I told you following that final exhibition game in Barcelona, the Americans will have a cold spell here and there from 3-point range, which is exactly what happened Sunday in the first quarter against France. But eventually, somebody is going to start knocking them down, and today it was Kevin Durant for the Americans. For the French, they have no such luxury. They went 2-for-19 today, and Nando De Colo looked like he will be more of a liability than an asset for the San Antonio Spurs next season.
_ The oddsmakers had this one pegged, as the line was 25 and the French were one late missed 3-pointer away from covering as they lost 98-71 (The over/under was 168 1/2, which means the over covered by a mere half-point). I had no action on the game, but if this uncredentialed business continues, I may be filing from a Ladbrokes after I get to London next weekend.
_ Team USA now ceases to become a story for the rest of the week. They play Tunisia and Nigeria, and the games start at 10:15 p.m. local time, which is absolutely brutal on the sportswriters who are actually at the games. The next semi-interesting match is next Saturday against Lithuania, then two days later against Argentina. The Americans will likely win both with relative ease, which means the most important thing for the other teams in Group A to do is to finish second, which means they would not have to face Team USA in the knockout round until the gold medal game. That makes Tuesday night’s Argentina-France game especially interesting, and I will be taking in that scene from The Great Canadian, in Place St. Michel — stone’s throw from the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
Now, back to the Boris burger.
In a word: Bravo.
The beef was ground right before the burgers were made, and the beef here in France is all organic. It was tremendous, and I knocked off the whole thing in 15 minutes. The Cola-Cola served here is made with sugar, not corn syrup, and served out of a 330-milliliter (11-ounce) glass bottle. Nectar, I tell you.
But if Boris is eating these burgers regularly, we have our answer as to why he shows up to training camp each year looking like The Baguette King.
As for Ronny, I am not going to say anything bad about him because he has always been very nice to me.
He even loaned me his Ferrari for this morning’s ride to pick up my new French girlfriend.
I videotaped the ride with my dashboard camera:
Speaking of baguettes, I have a baguette story to tell, and it happened the very same day the U.S. team was getting lost on its bus again in London traffic, as chronicaled by the AP’s Brian Mahoney. As Mahoney and his MSM brethren were enduring the circus that was the Team USA official press conference in London, myself, my expat musician friend and his wife were grilling sausages on a Weber. They live in an upscale neighborhood where several Paris St-Germain players live during the season, and the best golf course in France (Golf de St.-Nom-La-Breteche) is a half-mile away.
We needed bread, so my buddy Jansen, lead guitarist for Carousel Vertigo, headed down to the local boulangerie for three loaves. It was 6 p.m., and when he got home the bread was still warm.
Let’s just say the French do bread, chocolate and architecture quite well. You order vanilla ice cream here, and it comes inside of a puff pastry with a pitcher of hot chocolate sauce on the side.
I gave you a leftover story in Diary II from Manchester, England, about the former Michigan defensive lineman I met at the US-GB friendly, and I have one leftover from the trip to Barcelona that must make it into Edition III.
Trying to be as Catalan as possible, I did not shave the first six days I was there — nor the three days before.
So when it came time to shave that near-beard off, I went to the local superette and purchased a six-pack of Gillette disposables. I have no idea why, but they threw me a free box of Frosted Flakes that apparently came with the razors. What the hell and what the heck, right? Anyway, I took the cereal. Nobody can say no to Tony the Tiger.
Watched the opening ceremony on TF1, a.k.a Channel One, and they showed the entire thing start to finish with just one 30-second commercial the entire time. I know a few people have been knocking the presentation, but I thought the musical aspect and the British pop culture theme were brilliant. Others have written that the ceremony in Beijing was better, to which I respond thusly: One of the reasons the Chinese had so many people working in such precision is because they practiced for months on end, and the performers were given adult diapers because bathroom breaks were not permitted. For my tastes, McCartney singing “Hey Jude” and Pink Floyd being coordinated to a fireworks display was not only much more human, but humane. Four years ago I was in a taxi driving through Tiananmen Square on night of the Opening Ceremony. Ghosts were out that night.
Credential update: Playing some of my best cards now, but in no rush to get there for the Tunisia and Nigeria games. Also, everybody is on edge at the Olympics for the first 3-4 days, then it gets a little more relaxed. But the final 3 days, Londoners will be begging the rest of the world to go bloody home. So the diaries will continue for the time being, from points yet to be determined. (I cannot keep watching team handball and judo on French TV). Anyway, my editor does not mind.
Getting some grief from the Spanish media after picking their team to finish fourth behind the U.S., Brazil and Argentina — especially after Australia played well in a 4-point loss to Brazil earlier Sunday. Here is the thing with Brazil, and you can take this straight to Ladbroke’s if you’d like: If they win their pool play group, they will not have to play Team USA until the gold medal game. And if Team USA somehow manages to lose in the semifinals, Brazil could play a much weaker opponent for the Olympic title — and they’d be doing it at odds of 40-1.
PREVIOUS DIARIES OF THE UNCREDENTIALED:
Edition I: July 19, Manchester, England: The night Kevin Durant became a starter, not a Sixth Man
Edition II: July 23, Barcelona, Spain: The reasons why Kevin Love is buried behind Andre Iguodala
Chris Sheridan is publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com. He has covered every version of Team USA since 1996, at the Olympics in Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing, as well as the World Championships in Indianapolis, Japan and Turkey. Follow him on Twitter.