If this is Friday, it must be mail time. And no Christmas cards? What's wrong with you people, 'tis the season and all that junk.
This week's themes: Bargnani, Bargnani, Bargnani; some much deserved love for DMart and a faithful reader corrects a typo. Thanks
Q: Hey Doug, this is my second message in three weeks; ambitious I know, but someone has to represent the female contingent of your readers.
So Bargnani, not surprisingly, had a horrible game against Atlanta, and a so-so game against the Mavs. It just seems to me that he's not close to what the Raps envision ... an 'impact' player, similar to Bosh, with Humphries appearing to be way ahead of him. Do you see that changing, and what does the coaching staff think of his 'no scoring, no production' mentality?
Alison B., Mississauga
A: Represent away, nice to hear from you.
No, he's not even close to 'impact' right now but the kid is so skilled, you know he's going to get better. And he has been better so everyone knows he can do it.
Hump? He's going good right now for sure, but you know he's got the ability to disappear for a couple of games in a row. I think they've found that he can give them 14-18 solid minutes a night and that's about how they'd like to use him.
On Bargnani and the coaches, let's just say they can get as frustrated as fans but they continue to work him and chide him and encourage him. They know he has to be better. In their heart of hearts, I bet they're disappointed they're not getting more but they sure aren't ready to give up on him. And Sam has to keep trotting him out there, hoping that one day, something clicks.
Q: I know that it's gauche for you to be critical of the Raptor’s personnel moves, but can you concede that Colangelo’s Italian fetish in the 2005 draft was a mistake and that he should have taken LaMarcus Aldridge, who has taken an enormous leap forward and would have filled a need at the centre spot for the Raptors?
You’ll probably deny it now, but I even you conceded in A Nothing But (Inter)Net column just before the 2005 draft that you would have taken Aldridge if it were up to you. Let’s face it, Bargnani, on most nights, is a perimeter-oriented big who is going to take a lot of shots and whose line on a good night is going to be something like 18 points, 1 assist, and 5 rebounds. I guess my question is this: knowing what you know now, who should the Raps have taken first in ’05: Aldridge or il “Mago”?
Shahen A. Alexanian, Toronto
A: I'll use your question as representative of the zillion or so I've had on this same issue in the past week on this issue.
Today: Maybe Aldridge. Last season: For sure Bargnani. Next month: Who knows.
Really, how can you tell after one season and one month who's going to ultimately be the better player? Is it the guy who started a couple of playoff games and played signficant minutes for a 47-win team last season? Or the guy who is having a better season this year except now he's hurt?
Last year, Bargnani played 25 minutes a game in 65 games, averaged 11 points and four rebounds and his team won a division title; Aldridge played 22 minutes a game in 63 games, averaged nine points and five rebounds on a team that was among the worst in the league.
Let's talk about this one at the end of this season, okay?
Gauche to criticize? Yeah, sure. I'm a gauche dude
Q: Luuuuke! Doug, what are your thoughts on Miami waiving Penny Hardaway for Luke Jackson?
Jacob L, Guelph
A: As I sipped an adult beverage watching the Heat on Thursday night and saw Luuuuuuuke, my immediate reaction was, 'well, he's younger than Penny, at least.'
Let's just say I don't think that's a move that's going to shift the balance of power in the East.
Q: Another travel related question. What will the Raps do out west over the Christmas break? Do they all come back on the team plane to disburse from here or are they on their own after the Phoenix game to go home and then get back in time for their first game after Christmas against San Antonio?
Frank Tralli, Toronto
A: You a travel agent? Want some work? They'll be on their own from the minute the game ends in Phoenix and since there are so many with family out that way (Texas, California, Florida, etc) they'll head home from there. There will be plane available for those guys who want to come back Toronto and I'd presume about half the team, maybe less, will take it.
And they have to be back in San Antonio by dinner time on Boxing Day for a practice, they can get there on their own or leave on a team charter that day from Toronto.
Q: Doug, I fail to understand why Darrick Martin's name isn't even mentioned when it comes to the great point guard debate of 2007. He leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio at 15:1 and there is not even a whisper of this injustice from Raptor fans. Where's the love for my man D-Mart?
Tajinder Forde, Brampton
A: Duh! Everyone's too busy painting their 'We Love T.J.' and 'Ocho Rules' signs to notice.
Q: Got a basic basketball question. If players A and B are from the same team and player A strips the ball from the opposing player and player B collects the ball, who gets credited with the steal?
Emil Thas, Toronto
A: Sounds like a poolie question. Player A gets the credit for doing the stripping. And you get a point in a fantasy league, right?
Q: I liked your old Tuesday/Friday format but I'm realizing that the daily blog is now really giving me that nice break I need everyday at lunch... so thanks!
Now for the question: As a reporter, which Raptor players can you count on every night to give you the full scoop? It seems like AP is always there to provide his full two cents in a nice articulate way and in my opinion he had the most to say after the TJ injury (Tuesday) night. Who are the other players you can consistently go to for some quality insight?
Aaron Kligman, Thornhill
A: Lunch? You wait until lunch to read? Not first thing? What's wrong with you, man!
Go-to guys in the locker room? This is a team without an Oak, or a Jalen Rose, or anyone, really, who might say something outrageous. So we usually go to the star of any particular game for the obligatory "we played good, made shots" quote.
But if you want to get behind the scenes stuff, or discuss strategy, DMart's a very, very good choice and while his words may not end up in the paper, he helps us figure out what to ask who.
And I always try to wander by Jose's locker to see what he thinks about things.
Q: If I met you on the street and had a chance to ask you a question, this might be it: I notice when watching a game from MSG or the L.A. Lakers arena that the crowd seems to be sitting in darkness. It always looks cool to me, with the lights bright on the floor and the crowd sitting in the theatre-like dark. Do you know why they do that and is it ... cool? Why don't more do it?
Will Green, Toronto
A: It's very, very cool. They just started doing it at Staples in L.A. this year or maybe last; and they've been doing it at the Garden forever. I always thought in New York it was like they were lighting a stage and it gives a theatre-like feeling. I love it.
Not sure why other arenas don't do it. Probably has something to do with the way the lighting system is set up; or maybe they want to make sure all the goofy non-basketball stuff, like The Chicken falling down stairs, beachballs in the audience, goofy card games on the wraparound scoreboard don't get eclipsed by, you know, THE GAME.
Q: I've got a financial question for you. How much money does KG have to pay the refs not to call him for travelling on his low post moves? Specifically, that one where he fakes left, right, left, left, right (you get my point). Worst part is he almost always makes the shot too.
Andrew Jeans, Halifax
A: I believe it's $100 a game. Patrick Ewing used to pay $50, I think. Inflation, I guess.
Q: Doug who wins a game between shoe sponsors, Nike (Nash, Kobe, LeBron, Carmelo, Amare, Rasheed, Chris Paul) or Adidas (Duncan, Garnett, Howard, Billups, Arenas, T-Mac)
Joe Boutsalis, Toronto
A: I don't know but I bet we'd get a million or so television commercials out of it and that's just what the world needs, more cute shoe commercials.
Q: In Tuesday's game, TJ was fouled in the act of shooting, plus there was a flagrant foul. Yet Jose only took two foul shots. Why wasn't there two and two?
Jim Anderson, Cambridge
A: There was just one foul on the play, in fact. Doesn't matter if it's shooting or not a flagrant foul calls for two free throws and the ball. I guess you could say it supersedes the foul in the act of shooting.
Q: So where's Toronto's all-star game? Usually expansion teams with new arenas get them in professional sports but it's been what, 12 years now? What's the chance we get one within the next three years?
Ryan Miller, Toronto
A: I'm guessing the all-star game is here in 2011. And, believe me, it's such a gong show of corporate sponsors and marketing partners that very, very, very few real fans of the team will get tickets to anything.
Q: Glad to read you weren't at the Boston game last Friday. Sadly, I was. I couldn't find one good thing to say about the team's efforts. I knew it was over when Sam Mitchell sat down and never got up again (about half way through the first quarter by my recollection).
What was impressive was seeing the energy that Kevin Garnett brought, even when the Celtics were winning by a lot. I know of only a few NBA players who seem to bring it every night. Why do you think that it is such a rarity? Obviously it isn't about the money.
Andrew Swanson, Sackville, N.B.
A: No one matches the nightly intensity of Kevin Garnett, no one comes close and that's why he's my favourite player in the league to watch.
The why? It's simple, and complex. It's hard, very hard, to be at 100 per cent intensity every day at work. Travel's a grind, maybe a muscle is tweaked, maybe the kid at home is sick and on your mind, maybe you're just tired.
I know fans expect absolute maximum effort every night, they pay exorbitant amounts to see games and deserve, but sometimes guys just don't have it. Think of it this way: Do you have a great day at work every day? Or are there days when you just get through the day?
What I can't abide is guys who simply loaf for large chunks of a game, or coast because they're petulant about shots or coaching strategies or the game's not going well and they quit trying.
Q: Great blogs, but for a guy big on correcting grammer: "Fact is, they’ve been awful for two games in a row; even playing regular backups in prominent roles, you **won’t ** more effort and intelligence. That’s what’s been lacking." What were you thinking?
Chris H, London. U.K.
A: I are suitably chastised, sir.
Oh, and it's grammar, by the way.
But thanks for writing.