Timing is everything, so it was strange to see our Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Steven Adams holding court in an Auckland sneaker store, when he had turned down the Tall Blacks who are at the World Cup in Spain.

I sympathise with Adams' desire to impress his employers early in his NBA career.

Let's face it - the World Cup is not the pinnacle of basketball. But the store outing wasn't a good look when we were told vital training demanded by the Thunder had ruled Adams out of the national side.

It is surprising Adams and his handlers didn't see it that way. While on the subject, the World Cup looks rather scruffy. Fiba has got it right, moving the basketball World Cup so it won't be held in the same year as football's all-conquering tournament again.


Ferguson legacy grows

Nothing lasts forever and even Alex Ferguson had to retire at some point. What an extraordinary character, and the fascinating English Premier League - a worldwide phenomenon - still isn't the same without him.

As the pounds flew around like leaves in the wind on Mad Monday, the final day of European football's summer transfer window, it was hard not to think back on Ferguson's achievements at Manchester United.

His legacy is not perfect, because it was clear before he quit in mid-2013 that he (and the club overlords presumably) would leave an underwhelming squad when put in the hands of a managerial mortal like David Moyes, his choice as successor.

But by the same token, Ferguson was able to chase and win titles with teams that were not necessarily better than the vanquished, and possibly inferior. In his final season, his good but not exceptional squad won the title by 11 points over big-spending rivals.

What he achieved was often by the sheer force of his personality. He mixed an iron fist with a caring heart for his players, allied to amazing judgment. The man was a reminder of what old-style management was about even though he embraced modern coaching techniques.

We came to take his clear, winning thinking year after year under huge pressure for granted. He bent with the times, adapting to an era where it was essential to bring in more players. But his big acquisitions, like Robin van Persie, were relatively few compared with those of some competitors and the success that he achieved.

Of course his behaviour wasn't always good, and he inspired heated reactions from opposing supporters. ( I know a Liverpool fan who refers to him as "old whisky nose" among other things.) He was always making news - a godsend for those of us who might read more about the EPL than actually watch it - and not always for good reasons.


Love or loathe Ferguson, there was no doubting his stunning achievements. Despite a moderate-to-disappointing European record, he built on the club's glorious past and reinforced Manchester United as a name on a par with or beyond the likes of baseball's legendary New York Yankees.

The apparent fall of United - although it is only one and a bit seasons old - is a story gripping the sports world. The decline of a dynasty can be as fascinating as its rise. Then again, it wasn't so much a dynasty, but a long-running, one-man show.

Argentina show promise

Here's the question that is starting to circle the Argentine rugby team. Are they still a bunch of muscular also-rans, a curio to be patted on the head, or a team that can genuinely challenge come World Cup time?

There were promising signs against the Neanderthal South Africans and the Pumas' inclusion in the Rugby Championship will be a roaring success if their power style can topple the old guard. World rugby - a closed shop - needs a shakeup that Argentina and the Pacific Island nations could provide.

Mysterious Mateo

Warriors forward Feleti Mateo is the most frustrating of footballers and a genuine coach killer. His erratic form - he was the same at the Eels - is baffling.

If Mateo was a racehorse, there would be an inquiry every few weeks.

At his best, he is a superb playmaker. But his worst is so bad, he gets dumped from the first grade team. An interesting explanation for getting the best out of Mateo came from one of his junior coaches, who suggested he is at his creative peak when also running and tackling well.

Warriors coach Andrew McFadden says Mateo's reserve grade form won him a recall for Sunday night's do-or-die final round clash against Penrith.

But how would McFadden really know with Mateo - he might tear Penrith up, or he might drift around looking lost.

Naming Mateo on the bench is a punt, although one probably worth taking.