I honestly don’t think any one game in a very long time has caused more angst, and created more mail and comments, than Wednesday’s loss in Portland. You people are over the top.
But you do keep the mailbag filled and I appreciate that very nuch.
This week’s themes: The ladies check in, Bargnani as Koufax and who are these “scouts” anyway?
Q: I gotta ask. When you're doing an interview with a player, do you ever wish that someone would just say what's really on their minds? It seems a lot of the time they give answers that are "politically correct" when really, they're probably thinking something else. Like for example, a player saying their opponent played well, even when they blew them out by 25 points. I've had enough of the sugar-coating.
Amanda Faris, Barrie
A: Ever wish? How about every single time. Some guys are good at actually telling the truth but most do “sugar-coat” things as you put it so well. Some players and coaches will tell you what they really think on an off-the-record manner but we generally try to use that information somehow without divulging the source.
But honesty, in post-game interviews would be sooooo great.
"Hey, that teams sucks,” said Player A. “We should have beaten them by 40."
"That guy on the other team is a dirty cheap-shot artist,” said Player B. “I can’t wait until he gets knocked on his butt.”
That’s the kind of stuff we’d love. But seldom get.
Q: Why is a three-point shot called "From Downtown." Downtown is where all the action happens, so shouldn't downtown be represented by the paint? Isn't the three point-line more like the suburbs? Or does "From Suburbia" lack a certain vim from the broadcasters' perspective?
By the way, I have a lot of time on my hands.
Dan Martin, Toronto
A: Dude, you’re talking to a guy from the suburbs, you want me to rip my life? Not a chance.
And, yes, you do have too much time on your hands and should be doing something productive, like Christmas shopping.
Q: I propose the point at which we reach garbage time officially be known as The Maceo-Dixon line.
Tim Farrell, Toronto
A: Ding! Ding! Ding!
We have this week's winner. The rest of you can go home.
Q: Man, the ending to that Portland game was UGLY, capital D-O-U-G, UGLY! After reading your piece "The Day After", I can understand why people want Sam fired, I don’t, but the way he did the subs was just weird. DMart (I love DMart but he's way too predictable, as soon as he makes his move, I know his setting himself for a shot, 100 per cent) should’ve been taken out after that second shot he took, and why the heck isn’t Sam playing JDix? Is he being set-up for a trade???? He can provide way better minutes than DMart and a way better defender too, so please explain to me what this is!
Tobi Bihis, Toronto
A: Dixon is the big question for all of us. I thought for sure he’d get the run as the backup in Portland to play against Jarret Jack because he’s a better matchup; Martin was able to handle Dan Dickau but Jack was too quick.
He’s not, as far as I know, being set up for a trade but for his sake – and he’s a good kid with game – maybe they should move him somewhere he can play.
Q: Just making sure that you know that you have lots of loyal female readers out there. My question concerns the future of the Raptors.
For perhaps the first time in their history, the team has a deep basketball braintrust and a lot of very, very smart and unselfish players. The organization is being built for the long term. Who among the current players can you imagine occupying a management position with the team one day? You can include past players if you can think of anyone -- yes, Matt Bonner, with his legendary tightfistedness with a loonie, might make great capologist.
But, seriously, can you see any Raptors in meaningful front office positions one day? And who do you think are the all time best GMs who came out of the playing ranks? Do you think the trend towards joining the front office will end now that the best players make so much money?
Olga A., Toronto
A: Thanks for representing the female fans, I know there’s lots out there and I’m glad to hear from you and them.
Of this team, I can see Darrick Martin being a coach some day but not sure there’s a front office guy on the roster at the moment.
Of past Raptors – and Bonner is an outstanding capologist given his, um, thrifty ways – I know Mike Curry has designs on a front-office job, he’s run the D League and is now an assistant in Detroit; Mark Jackson wants to be a head coach and I presume he will be some day; and I’ve always thought there should be something in the game somewhere for Charles Oakley and his interpreter.
Outside of them, though, there aren’t many
And I actually think the trend of players moving into important front office roles is going to increase, actually. Two reasons: They know the game and the people involved and a lot of them just love the lifestyle.
Q: Hi Doug - can we learn from other examples of young player development? In baseball, possibly the best pitcher ever, Sandy Koufax almost quit in his mid/late 20's because he could not find the strike zone. John Olerud struggled as Blue Jays management tried to make a "first baseman's" home run swing out of his sweet doubles swing. What can we learn?
Patience is a virtue with young talented players, especially when they have an out-of-the-mold skills set and especially when they are being subjected to a blinding glare of celebrity and high expectations. Throw in cultural adjustment and we may ask: "Will folks please let up a little on Andrea."
There is not always an "instant" fix -- no, neither a wrestling match to bestow "toughness" nor a demand that Andrea become a bruising rebounder and low post player. Now we will see what kinds of wisdom and human touch Coach Mitchell and his assistants can bring to the development of Andrea. Do Koufax and Olerud not indicate that great (if unconventional) talent can be worth waiting for?
Charles Novogrodsky, Mexico, via Toronto
A: Interesting points.
Koufax – as a gentleman of my age will remember – may have been the best pitcher ever and I’m glad you mentioned him. Skills, dedication, a quiet self-assurance that stood him apart. Eventually.
Olerud, who got I got to cover in his rookie and sophomore years, does seem to be the basketball equivalent of Bargnani, a quiet kid to whom success came easily and quickly who had to ultimately learn how to be a pro.
I will say that I know – as the coaches do – that Bargnani possesses unique skills. A silky smooth jump shot, an attitude that leaves him impervious to pressure, the knowledge that he can be good. And maybe great. But patience is a virtue I think people need to use with Bargnani but things have to swing both ways.
He’s also soft. He doesn’t know how – yet – to play through adversity, or a modicum of discomfort and until he does, his potential, which he’s shown, will go unfulfilled.
Q: I'm not advocating that the Raptors should ever purposefully get rid of TJ Ford, but what are the salary cap implications if TJ hung up his sneakers at the end of this year? I hope he and Jose have many years of playing together, but what if?
Jamie Staples, Thornhill
A: There’d be no cap relief at all until Ford missed at least a full season and retired. They’d pay him and be on the books for his number.
Q: Hey Doug. I got a bit of a basketball 101 question for you. What are the distinctive differences between a full practice and a shoot around? Having attended neither, I would assume a full practice would be a mix of conditioning, theory, and other drills. While a shootaround, just a free for all. But I'm really just guessing.
Michael Watson, Uxbridge
A: You’re close, very close.
Full practice is just how you described it, they watch video, scrimmage, run drills and work out and it generally lasts between 90 minutes and two hours.
A game-day shootaround is generally entirely dedicated to that night’s opponents, going over their offensive sets and how they want to defend them and seeing what they do defensively and how they want to attack it. It’s very detailed to one specific team.
Q: Firstly, stop trying to squeeze on camera during Brian Colangelo interviews. I saw you on his post TJ interview acting like you're a Hollywood star and all.
Secondly, I think Rasho Rondo running circles around Jose was a clear example of how and where TJ adds value to this team. Rasho used Jose like a pair of yesterday's Hanes. With TJ at the helm, Rasho simply looks like a slower, less-skilled TJ Ford (who gets to play with KG, Truth and Jesus).
Now my real question: A certain big named columnist on ESPN has pointed out that us Rap fans are uber, over-defensive of our team. What gives with the Raptor nation, why are we so insecure? You've got the pulse of the fans more than anybody since JYD played here. What’s up? Is this the effect of the Leafs losing for 41 years straight with a little Vince Carter on top?
Dan Morel, Toronto
A: Hollywood star? Yeah, was just talking to Marty Scorsese about my next gig.
I will gently point out that I’m pretty sure you’re talking about Bryan Colangelo and Rajon Rondo, right?
Now, for your question.
Raptor fans are passionate like none I’ve ever known, like fans of no other team in the league. Their passion makes me laugh sometimes and scream sometimes. Some of them know the game amazingly well, some I don’t think know whether a ball is blown up or stuffed.
The sky is falling when they lose and someone has to get fired; the parade routes are being planned after every four-game winning streak.
Where do they get it? I can’t honestly say but it can’t have anything to do with the Leaves, I don’t think, because I honestly believe it’s a younger, more urban, smarter set of fans.
Q: I agree with you that many of the calls for Sam Mitchel's head are off base at this point While X's & O's are still are average at best (see any of our inbounds plays for proof) he is an excellent motivator and doesn't get the credit for getting higher performance out of many guys (Hump, Moon, Delfino, etc) The one thing that he hasn't done though is get anything close to that out of Andrea. There are obviously many factors, but do you think that Sam is having difficulty reaching him (#1 pick, European player) compared to the others which are more journeymen-like (had to fight for their minutes more) and far more similar to Sam himself when he was a player?
Ryan Sutherland, Toronto
A: That would be a interesting point if Sam hadn't got Bargnani to 11.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game last year or even playing well in a few games this year. Nope, this one's on the kid, he has to play better.
Q: Always love to hear your thoughts, and the new format has really grown on me. I've got two questions for you:
First, after watching (Wednesday) night's game against Portland it became pretty obvious how badly they were missing TJ when the shooting on the team went cold. He's always good for a wild drive into the lane to get the team's offense going. In light of that, do you think that Al Horford's suspension was too lenient? We're missing arguably our second best player for an indefinite amount of time, and Atlanta missed a rookie for one game. I've always thought a player who injures another should be suspended for as long as the injured player was out. What do you think of the eye-for-an-eye apporach?
And secondly, do you know where I could get one of the Raptors warm-up jerseys? I've looked everywhere, including the website and can't find it. MLSE should really put those on the market.
Shaun Quennell, Oakville.
A: The eye-for-an-eye school of thought is out there but I don’t agree with it. It opens all kinds of cans of worms. Let’s say the guy hurt was a bum and the guy doing the hurting was a star. They might keep the bum out for longer just to keep the star on the shelf. I think Horford got what he should have.
The jersey? I can’t imagine MLSE marketing types not having it for sale. I’m sure now that they know someone wants to buy one, some elves somewhere are making them to have ‘em available before Christmas.
Q: If Jamario Moon is approaching the team record of 21 consecutive games with at least 1 blocked shot held by Marcus Camby (do you know when did Camby established the record?), what is the NBA record? Also, if Jamario is DNPed for say 1 game but plays on the next game and blocks at least 1 shot, will the streak holds or gets reset?
Vener Cruise, Markham
A: Camby set the record in 1998 and we’re waiting on stats geeks to tell us the NBA record, but I’m betting it’s Bill Russell and I wouldn’t be surprised if he blocked at least one shot a game in an entire season some time.
And if Moon gets a DNP-CD, the streak ends; if he doesn’t dress for one game and blocks one the next, the streak is alive.
Q: I don't understand why the Raps picked up Maceo Baston instead of just resigning Pape Sow. From what I have seen, Maceo doesn't have anything on Pape. Although both players will/would have played very limited minutes in their 15th man role, why not just re-sign the known quantity in Pape Sow.
Paul M, Ottawa
A: Maceo doesn’t really have anything on Pape; I guess as the 15th guy on the roster they wanted someone a bit older and more experienced. It’s not like either of them will ever have a long-lasting impact on what the team does.
Q: Scouts have come up a lot in your blog lately. How many do the Raptors have? Do they have scouts dedicated to certain teams? How are scouts chosen? Are they all selected by B.C. or have some been around longer? Are there any female scouts?
Michael McAlpine, London
A: Scouts are the lifeblood of the organization and a treasure trove of information for us beat grunts, who see them in media rooms and at courtside seats and in Marriott concierge lounges all around the league.
The Raptors have one advance scout, Micah Nori, who’s been with the organization since the Butch Carter days and his job is to see other NBA teams and provide scouting reports on schemes and plays and the like.
They’ve also got two or three guys they use as college and international scouts, some on contracts, some on per-game basis, all of whom Colangelo either hired or retained when he could have got rid of them.
Women? I believe there is one woman working as an advance scout doing NBA games but I don’t know if any teams employ any as college or international scouts. I haven’t heard of any, that’s for sure.
Q: Sorry for the hockey talk but I'm a little annoyed with the latest Chris Simon incident and not knowing The Star hockey writers I didn't know who else to vent to.
The NHL is going to continue to be nothing more then a bush league if it continues to let the people who play in it get away with this nonsense. Say what you will about basketball players and trust my puck head friends have a lot to say, I refuse to believe the NBA would stand for behavior like this. Stern would have them removed from the game so fast it would make their head spin. What is this? Strike seven for Simon? Seven suspensions for violent acts and he can still find a job in the NHL? Are you kidding me?
So to keep this on topic, any idea what player has been suspended the most times (longest) and continued to be employed by NBA teams?
I imagine Spree will take the prize for longest, but I'm kind of lost on most times.
Casey Sheahan, Oakville
A: Rip the pucks all you want. Any time. That Simon dude should never, ever play again.
The longest was actually Ron Artest, who got 72 games for the brawl in Auburn Hills; Spree got 68 for choking P.J. Carlisemo. Those, of course, were non-drug related suspensions, some of those have been for life.
The most? I’m trying to find that out for sure, but I’d have Dennis Rodman and Artest as Nos. 1 and 2 on the list; just not sure of the order. If I find it, I’ll let you know in the blog.
Q: I've been faithfully casting my All-Star ballot each day, including a write in vote for Jose Calderon. Does this make any difference and has anyone made it to the All-Star game because of write-in.
Robert Nordness, Toronto
A: What a laudable effort. Futile, but laudable. No one has started as a write-in vote-getter ever after playing in that regular season. Not sure about Magic Johnson when he came back the first time but don't think he would count under your criteria anyway...
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