Inside the coaches retreat
We know that most of the players show up early and work the kinks out before training camp officially begins.
The coaches? Well, they do, too. And then they retreat.
I’m told the whole enlarged staff headed off to the Niagara area on the weekend for a couple of days of fun and frivolity and, yes, some work.
|RICK EGLINTON/TORONTO STAR|
|We don't know what's in the cards for Sam Mitchell's Raptors this year, but we're sure to see the odd full house in his hand.|
Like? Like meetings each morning to go over such things as how they’ll defend the screen and roll, for instance, what kind of offensive sets they think will get the most of out of their personnel and how they’ll set up training camp practices to maximize the time they’ve got.
They talked and brainstormed and, probably, did a little bonding, too.
Oh, and I’m sure there was some recreational opportunities, given their proximity to golf courses and games of chance.
To wit (and these are only from my little mind and may not have actually happened):
Press: What to do to scramble a game or what to do when you’re two-down to Sam on the fourth tee.
Split: Where Roko’s from or what you do with 10s.
Fore: A new play to take advantage of two bigs or “where the hell did Micah just hit his drive?”
Full house: Bosh, O’Neal, Bargnani and two bigs, or the best hand of the night?
Rotation: Double the post and race to shooters, or “come sit at this table, this dealer’s stone cold.”
Did you see the news the Washington’s Eddie Jordan had the option on his contract picked up for 2009-10?
That, in itself, isn’t such big news but, as the Wizards PR people pointed out, Jordan has spent five seasons already coaching in Washington and is “currently the third-longest tenured head coach in the NBA behind Jerry Sloan (Utah Jazz) and Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs). “
Man, they eat their young in that business, don’t they?
A mailbag offering:
Q: If you took away that brawl (which O'Neal was also a huge part of) and the time he wanted to promote his CD, at a bad time, what exactly has Ron Artest done for you to consistently bad mouth him at the drop of a hat?
I think you have him pigeonholed and no matter what happens, you'll never appreciate his skills. He seemed to handle himself well with the Kings the past few years, and that was a team going nowhere, so it almost dictated he should have gone crazy, but he didn't.
If you think Artest will be a problem, than your logic dictates O'Neal will also be a problem. They have a similar checkered past.
Do you not believe in a player redeeming himself? I have not seen, nor heard of anything out of the ordinary from either player this pre-season.
Shawn L, Bowmanville
A: Well, let’s see.
You forgot to mention the elbow to the side of Rip Hamilton (or maybe it was Tayshawn Prince) in the dying minutes of Game 6 of the 2004 Eastern Conference final in Detroit that turned the game – and the series – to the Pistons and robbed the Pacers of their best chance to make it to the NBA finals since 2000.
You forgot to mention the “I want to be traded, I don’t want to be traded, I want to be traded, I don’t want to be traded” saga in Sacramento last year.
You forgot to mention the verbal sparring with Yao Ming before he even took part in a Houston practice.
You forgot to mention the pattern – long and illustrious and one that’s followed him every single step of the way – that shows a lack of maturity and respect for his team, his teammates and the game.
There is no denying he is skilled, unbelievably skilled. There is also no denying his is disruptive. Has always been and, in my opinion, always will be. Some players, no matter their skill, aren’t worth it. In my opinion, Artest is one.
And, while not blameless for that brawl (although he didn’t start it and never once left the court), to suggest that Jermaine O’Neal and Ron Artest are the same kind of problem player is, in my opinion, utterly ridiculous. And the history of each would, on the whole, support my theory.
Five reasons, to answer a whole bunch of questioners, why Vancouver will never, ever, ever get another NBA team.
There is absolutely no movement throughout the league to expand and when there is, all eyes will be on Europe.
Members of the league’s board of governors have told me, for years, they don’t believe there is enough deep pocketed corporate entities in Vancouver who would be interested in basketball.
Teams that move do so because owners covet markets (Shinn to New Orleans, Clay Bennett in Oklahoma); no current owner covets Vancouver.
If an owner buys a team with a plan to move it to Vancouver, there will be an issue – as there was in every instance except the first couple of years – of a battle between hockey and basketball for money and sponsorship and suite revenue and advertising deals and hockey is much more firmly entrenched and unwilling – if you ask privately – to share with an upstart sport.
There are several American markets – Seattle chief among them – that would have first dibs on a franchise that’s going to move and there’s no way the governors to back to a city in Canada that failed before they exhaust all other options.
Noticeable by his absence so far at the de-facto first week of training camp in the Air Canada Centre is Jamario Moon.
I know he doesn’t have to be here, but he has to be here, if you get my drift.
How can you pass up a Chicken question?
Q: Hey Doug, something I always wondered.
What's the process in selecting the team mascot?
I would assume you need a special type resume to even be considered a candidate. And also, how much does the average mascot earn? Not that I'm looking for a new career, just curious.
Carlos R, Toronto
A: Well, the same gal-guy has been doing it since the very first season in Raptor history so there’s not a whole lot of turnover.
I think you’d need some gymnastics training, you’d need a sense of humour and you’d need some way to let personality shine through a goofy, heavy costume.
How much do they make? That I can’t answer you but Chickens generally live in huge mansions with a bevy of servants and have homes on Maui, the French Riviera and, I believe, Tuscany.