And away we go (with apologies to Jackie Gleason)
|RICHARD LAUTENS/TORONTO STAR|
|They're ready. You're ready. Doug's ready. Let's go!|
How long have you been waiting for this one? Since the end of the Orlando series? The start of training camp? The first pre-season game? Glad it’s here?
Lots of people are so I say find a nice spot in a comfy chair, put on that Jose jersey, grab an adult beverage and sit back and enjoy. And if you’ve got some time and the inclination, check out the in-game blog; if I’m going to do it, I’m hoping someone out there’s reading it.
And here it is:
What to expect?
I have no real idea since it was impossible to get a true read of this team or the Sixers from the pre-season.
In a perfect world, Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Bosh have it all worked out, Jose Calderon’s in mid-season form and Jamario Moon’s rediscovered what made him pretty good at times last year.
Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world (I know this because I’m not filthy rich and retired at some compound on Maui) so I’d think we’re in for a rather sloppy and choppy game as both teams continue to try to figure it out.
As I recall, most regular season openers are hardly works of art, games played more on emotion than skill so, please, take this one for what it is, the first of 82.
If they lose, don’t suggest roster moves or firings; if they win, don’t get those 82-0 T-shirts printed up.
(Like that's going to happen with you nutty fans) -
Oh yeah, it’ll be Jamario who’s the starting small forward today.
Sam gave us one of those, ‘duh!’ looks and lines yesterday when he was asked about it again.
Because I’m a helluva guy (seriously, some people allegedly think so) and because you want to help a worthy cause, here’s that link again to the on-line auction for that great package my friends at the Raptors Foundation and Jawad have put together.
I heard they did about $900 the other day and the deadline’s today at 5 p.m.
Checking into the mail:
Q: So you’re the coach. Down 15 at the half. Do you put Jose back out there or let Ukimon play it out and give them some much needed experience? If not, how long do you go with Jose before giving him the night off? What if it's the first night of a back to back?
CJ L, London
A: Do I get the coach’s salary?
No. Never. Ever.
You’ve got starters, they start; they play their regular minutes and you try to win games. Waving the white flag at half makes no sense whatsoever.
I keep the regular rotation down 15 with three minutes to go.
Think this is a good sign for someone who travels a bit?
First flight of the season? Cancelled.
Yep, Air Canada got us again Tuesday, blowing off the 5:30 flight to Philly, giving some of us a chance to sit around the lounge for four hours.
Something about winds and rain down here. Funny, though, the Raptor charter left from the same Toronto airport to fly the same Philly airport a couple of hours before we were supposed to take off (and long after the commercial flight was cancelled).
On the other hand, the first regular season road beer was a Yeungling so that doesn’t bite.
Hey, check, out Jose’s feet tonight. (And I know there are people out there who will)
I believe the deal is done and he’s got a sweet new endorsement gig with Li Ning, the Chinese shoe and apparel company that was all over the Beijing Olympics.
Wonder how weird it’ll be around the arena tonight with this World Series thing and all.
One thing the Sixers got at the end of last season was a lot of support from the home crowd, they started selling out the place again and it was noisy. Really noisy.
It wasn’t early in the year, though. We were there in November and again in January and the joint was a mausoleum.
I suspect tonight will be somewhere in the middle but I expect, opening night and all, for it be more muted than zany. Does that help the Raptors? Probably more than it hurts the Sixers. Philly likes to run and dunk and scramble the game and that type of style feeds off a loud audience. Not sure we’re going to have that tonight.
Another guy who was waived who isn’t coming here:
Q: Can you give us a rundown (and short dissertation on why we won't and/or shouldn't sign him) on Patrick Ewing Jr. in advance of the multitude of armchair GM's who will scream for BC to sign him?
A: Good heading ‘em off at the pass.
Well, he’d be the fifth big man here, maybe sixth if Jawai ever plays and if anyone thinks they should go over the tax threshold for a rookie fifth or sixth big man, they need to re-examine their knowledge of the game.
A wee digression, if you don’t mind.
In a previous life, I was a baseball scribbler and was here in Philly in ’93 for the Blue Jays-Phillies World Series.
Working for The Canadian Press, we were sort of the fringe media and didn’t stay with the team out at some posh suburban hotel. Oh, no. We were at the official media hotel, which was some crappy Holiday Inn in the vast parking lot wasteland around Veterans Stadium and it sucked.
Well, the housekeeping staff was on strike, leaving managers to fix up the rooms and if you got new linens or towels every third day, you were special. And even then, it was dicey.
I recall a now-famous pucks big shot who was then a mere radio schlub arriving in his room ready to relax, pulling down the bedspread to find something that look suspiciously like a blood stain on one of the sheets.
Needless to say, he beat a rather hasty retreat from that room. And, I recall, that hotel.
I don’t know where my seamhead brethren are staying this year but I can guaran-damn-tee you it’s not in a dicey joint like that.
Speaking of Philly, here’s what my man Phil Jasner had in the morning paper today. He also had a notes package that says Thaddeus Young, who’d been bothered by a bad back, will indeed start.
Last letter of the day:
Q: The Raptors are still a young franchise and have yet to retire a player's jersey in the rafters of the ACC. Who do you believe will be the first? Does "he who shall not be named" deserve it?
Jesse S, Thornhill
A: If I’m a hard-ass on the Hall of Fame stuff, I’m worse on this. There is no one connected with the franchise yet who is remotely close to deserving a number retirement. And I cannot imagine who that guy may be.
In the time I took to write this, Greg Oden did not get hurt.