The usual Sunday fare
A little light reading before the Cardinals shock the football world.
Oh, right, there’s another game before that one. And I have no idea what might transpire in that one.
And away we go:
Q: I'm not reading or hearing too much about Andrea Bargnani in the Most Improved Player Discussion. Maybe by the years end ... (if he keeps doing what he's doing). Who is ahead of him? Devin Harris? Who else?
Andrew R, Halifax
A: Danny Granger and David Lee, maybe Paul Millsap and perhaps Jameer Nelson.
But if Bargnani keeps it up for 34 more games, he’ll be in the conversation.
Q: Me and my friend were having a heated conversation regarding Chris Bosh and his clutch performances which led to a question I believe only you can answer. Has Chris ever taken a buzzer beater in his career to win the game?
Samir E, Toronto
A: Without going through every boxscore and play-by-play, I’d say yes. I remember a shot against Houston in his rookie year, I remember a big one against Portland, I believe it was, last year at home.
So, yes. He has.
Q: List time. Who are your top 5 rookies this year? And based on what you've seen, does that list change if the question is who of this draft class will be the top 5 five years from now (i.e. Brook Lopez might make solid contributions now and land in the top 5, but one could argue Rudy Fernandez has more potential and will end up being one of the best five players in the class).
Jack C, Ajax
Rose, Mayo, Fernandez, Oden and Lopez would probably be my top five. For potential? Maybe Beasley gets in the group, maybe not.
Q: I recently read an article about the best 3 point shooters. Who would you rank as the top 3 of all time? And who are the top 3 active players? The experts (CNN SI writers) seem to agree Larry Legend tops the list despite his rather pedestrian career shooting percentage from beyond the arc, but some have argued perhaps Ray Allen has the purest stroke of all time, and if ranking purely on the merits of the ability to shoot the 3 ball (and not on his overall game and impact on the game), that Ray should top Bird.
Jack C, Ajax
A: Top three all-time? Impossible. Too many. Let’s go with Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Bird. But Dell Curry is in there, so is Steve Kerr, Peja in his heyday, Dale Ellis. And everyone I forgot.
Raptors? Best ever? Dell, Mo, Vince. With Dee Brown, AP and Donyell Marshall in there. Oh, and Tracy Murray could fill it up. And I understand this Kapono fellow used to be quite an accomplished three-point shooter.
Q: In response to your John Updike tribute I have to agree, but also add this addendum, authors like Steinbeck, Hemingway, Joyce, etc., are the greatest writers ever, they lived in a era of tumultuous times, we can't even relate to but also in a era where words were king. Their minds had to visualize, had to imagine be alive, whereas we live in a video age, TV, movies, etc., words are lost, like a lot of lost "arts" true writing is gone. Read Grisham, or whatever contemporary writer you want, not even close to these authors. They’re true wordsmiths, gone and lost forever, that's the sadness in each one's death.
Doug B, Toronto
A: There’s no question here and I have no comment but I just wanted people to read it because it’s 1,000 per cent true.
Q: When a general manager is putting together a team, do they ever take notice about the characteristics of the city they are in. I find the team Bryan has constructed in Toronto to be more of the white-collar type of player, while in Phoenix, it had some flash but had also some others that were the blue-collar type players.
A: It’s far more the established style of the team, or the desired style of the general manager, rather than the city, that goes into player acquisitions.
Q: For the life of me I don't get how some keys get complete run of a organization. Steve Kerr has taken a team that was oh so close to the Championship finals, except for those ridiculous suspensions but he has dismantled it without any semblance of a plan. If I was a Sun's fan, I'd be in shock...both Kerr and Paxson actually haven't done stellar jobs. In fact there are a few G.M'S right now that are ex-players who do you think is the best and the worst. McHale is a disaster as well.
Doug B Toronto
A: I’d put Danny Ainge up there, wouldn’t you? Joe Dumars, too. And Danny Ferry hasn’t done a bad job in Cleveland, either.
Worst? Well, circumstances are different everywhere (and McHale also lost his GM’s job) so I don’t know that there’s one worse than the other. Paxson hasn’t distinguished himself, the jury would still be out on Kerr and I think Geoff Petrie’s having a difficult time in Sacramento right now and he was once hailed a genius.
Q: Why do you have deadlines where you have to submit your articles right after a Raptor's game? Do you have more time when the Leafs are playing the same night as the Raps since they're games usually finish later than the Raps?
Paul N, Maple
A: No, the Leafs have no impact on deadlines at all. I have to file by 10:15 every game night, on 7 p.m. starts I can a story with quotes for then; on 7:30 or later, I have to file at the buzzer and get quotes and re-write for midnight or earlier, usually earlier ‘cause I want to get out of the arena.
Q: My question involves retired players. Does the NBA provide any help in transitioning to a non-basketball life? I imagine going from a professional athlete to basically nothing is a huge challenge, despite their financial resources (which may or may not be good depending on what they did with their money). Also having been in peak physical condition for so many years, with an athletic career to necessitate that, it must be hard to suddenly lose their main reason for doing so. I am also thinking about the nutritional challenges going from a large diet to a more normal one. So does the NBA help out at all, or are ex-players basically on their own?
Peter S, Hamilton
A: Both the Players Association and the league have people on staff and programs set up to make the transition from player to ex-player easier. And the process actually starts during a players’ career with such matters as advice on long-term financial planning being a staple of chats between union staffers and the various teams.
Trouble is, some players don’t take advantage of any of the programs.
Q: I surprised there have not been any rumours regarding Marc Iavaroni to Toronto, given his connections to Bryan Colangelo and previous speculation upon BC's arrival in TO. Your thoughts?
Brian Y, Kingston
A: There were rumours and rampant speculation about 20 minutes after Iavaroni was let go in Memphis.
The only way – the only way – he’d ever be in Toronto would be as an assistant, not as a head coach.
Q: I believe this team's looked better coached under Jay. Coherent defence plan, in-game responses and occasional problem-creation for the other team. But the fact is, that Sam got fired due to the 'uninspired' play of his team. And lately, we've seen signs of uninspiration returning. If Jay can't inspire the club any better than Sam did (and record-wise, he's been worse ... with the injury caveat), then there isn't a Ukic-three ball's chance in hell that Jay stays at the end of the year. Question: Do any of the other assistants stick around under the new man?
Gary M, Bramalea
A: I wouldn’t be so quick to write off Jay, there’s lots of basketball left to be played.
The fate of Alex English and Mike Evans is, I’d think, quite tenuous. I’m sure since neither of them got the job when Sam was whacked, they may want to see what’s out there in the summer.
But, again, it’s too early to speculate on what Bryan – or Jay – might want to do.
Q: Hi Doug - here's a non-game question for you. It seems to me that these guys rarely, if ever, get a day off. If it's not a game day, they're practicing or travelling. And even post-season, they're training. I am just wondering about their off hours... do these guys have time to have a life? Do they go out to bars and clubs in Toronto? They are all young guys - I can't imagine them staying home all the time - but are there rules about what they do in their off hours?
Carla M, Toronto
A: No, there are no rules except using common sense, which most do.
But they are also not hermits so they get out every now and then; the smart ones know how to take care of their bodies and don’t push it; the not smart ones become ex-NBAers.
Q: Stephon Marbury just told the NY Daily News that he has a verbal agreement to sign with the Celtics if/when he is released by the Knicks. My question: isn't this tampering by the Celtics? Marbury is still under contract with the Knicks, so presumably he cannot have contact with other teams. A few years back, the NBA gave a stiff fine to Phil Jackson for suggesting that other teams would be interested in signing Bosh as a free agent. If Marbury is being truthful, this seems exponentially worse. What gives?
Victor C, Toronto
A: There is now some question about what Marbury might have actually said and the veracity of the claim of a “verbal commitment.” But, trust me on this, the league is watching closely but won’t do anything right now because Marbury’s still a Knick.
Q: Imagine: Jose Calderon is 2 shy of tying the consecutive made free throws record. It's the dying seconds of the game, the Raptors have possession and they trail by 3 points. Assuming Sam Mitchell isn't the coach, the opposing team makes the smart play and fouls Calderon to not let him attempt a 3-pointer.
Should Calderon purposely miss the second free throw in order to give his team a chance to regain possession? Does your answer change if the Raptors are way out of playoff contention?
I'd rather he get the record and the Raptors get a lottery pick than hoping his teammates get the rebound (unlikely). Even if they do squeak into the playoffs, they are going to get crushed by Boston/Cleveland/Orlando anyway.
This came to me at 3:30am, as I drifted in and out of my current sleep deprived state (caring for recently born, colicky, twins). Please finally allow me into your famed mailbag.
David A, Richmond Hill
A: Missed it by one day. Sorry. Interesting point, though. I’d be he would have intentionally missed to give his team a chance to win.
Now, go take care of the kids and, believe me, colic passes. Eventually.
Q: I just finished reading Jeff Pearlman's book "Boys Will Be Boys" about the 90's Dallas Cowboys. Man were they ever an, ahem, active bunch. Questions: Does a typical basketball grunt get to see the kind of typical antics that Pearlman described in the book (i.e. women, drugs, partying etc.)? Would you ever consider writing that kind of book about any of the teams that you've covered over the years, or does that kind of break some sort of journalistic code of integrity? Any stories you care to share?
Fion M, Toronto
A: In the 90s, and the 80s, there probably were some “antics” but I think there’d be more in the NFL than there would be in the NBA. And that Cowboy team seems to be unique.
A book? Me. Maybe one day but the workload’s quite enough right now, thanks. But, and I’ve been around every team every year, there may have been some “characters” here but not too much outrageous off-court behaviour.
Q: You seem to frequently report on the Raptors' 3-pointer streak and Calderon's free throw streak. However, they do not seem like very important "records" at all! I feel that neither streak really helps the Raptors to WIN games. Aside for pure trivia, why do you mention these "records" so often? Or do you feel they ARE important towards winning?
Clement M, Toronto
A: Yeah, I’d say making three pointers and being perfect at the free throw line are absolutely important towards winning. Now, are they streaks like Dimaggio’s 56-gamer or Wilt’s 100 points? No, but that doesn’t mean they’re not significant.
Q: I was a little surprised when Jameer Nelson was named as an All-Star. I understand that he is having a career year but to be selected over players such as Ray Allen, Mo Williams, Rip Hamilton and even dare I say he's whose name shall not be spoken. And I'm just sticking to the guards on the ballot, correct if I'm wrong but I thought the coaches had a little bit more freedom with their selections. If that's the case how about Caron Butler, Andre Iguodala or Antawn Jamison...could you please enlighten me as to why Jameer was selected over these guys?
Thanks Doug, love the blog btw, read it everyday.
Drew F, Oshawa
A: Coaches, and I, felt he’s had a better season than any of those guys you mentioned. And his impact on his team has been considerable, a team that’s going incredibly well.
And I would have voted for him over any of those guys; the only one who’d be in the conversation would be Allen.
Q: Two questions for you Doug.
One, is a missed free throw counted as a rebound and, two, in the official boxscore what does BA stand for?
Jan V, London
A: Yes, the player who grabs a missed free throw gets credit for a rebound and BA is for Blocked Attempts, the number of times a player has his shot blocked in a game.
Q: Hey Doug! I would like to congratulate you on the success of your blog! Ten years ago did you ever imagine yourself doing something like this? Do you know how many people read your blog each week? Those are some things that I would be interested in. Maybe you should start a podcast! I would subscribe to that in a second. Thanks
Blake H, Provo, UT
A: Ten years ago? Not 10 months ago would I have envisioned live, in-game blogging or post-game video recaps.
I don’t know the weekly totals here but I think we’re approaching, or just over, 5,000,000 all-time, which sounds like a lot.
Podcast? Yeah, just what the world needs, more video of me.
Q: Hey Doug, have a few questions, I'll get right to them.
1) With the Raps' losing to the Bucks and the Magic, Lakers, Cavs and Hornets up next. Can the Raps afford another 4-game losing streak? Do you see the Raps winning at least going 1-3 or 2-2 down that stretch?
2) Does the NBA assign refereeing crews depending on which two teams are playing and which game is televised nationally in the States? I would assume that the best crew would get the ESPN or ABC games, whereas not so stellar crews or rookie referees get the Raps/Bucks matchups.
3) I would assume that some of the Raptors would dismiss the idea of using an psychologist to help them out, thinking that it doesn't work or it's not for them. Have you talked with any of the Raptors regarding this issue and is the whole team up for the idea? Dave R, Markham
A: I’ve given up trying to figure out what I’m going to see. And it’s lots of fun that way because you’re always surprised.
The NBA knows which of its refs are ranked where among their peers and tries to get a balanced crew for every game. And, trust me, even the best of them have bad games, even on national TV.
I haven’t spoken to many players about Dana but I imagine they’d like to keep any interaction with her private, which is entirely understandable.
Q: Is this the most baffling Raptors team you've covered?? At least in the sense there is really no telling which team will show up on a given night. What other Raptors (or other squads) would this team compare with?
John D, Pusan, Korea
A: Absolutely the most baffling for its inconsistencies.
Others? None really compare because with them you knew what you were likely to get every night (good or bad) without nearly as many wild mood swings like this one.
Q: Hey Doug, I have an officiating question that has been troubling me for quite some time. What is the difference between a foul in the last two minutes versus a foul in the other ten. Do they get to shoot free throws? Is it just symbolic? Your help would be greatly appreciated.
Will C, Markham
A: No difference at all.
Teams shoot bonus free throws on the fifth team foul of a quarter or the second in the last two minutes if the opponent has committed zero, one or two in the first 10 minutes. That’s why PA announcers are supposed to announce “first foul in the last two minutes” on any team foul in that time frame.
Q: Any snubbed 'wannabe' All-Stars going to take out their frustration on the rest of the NBA, post All-Star Game? I'm guessing Al Jefferson might be the one to take it to another level. Otherwise, I think most of the rest are okay with vacation time or incapable of raising their game.
Gary M, Bramalea
Q: Don’t sleep on Mo Williams, he was pretty bitter, I’m told, about the snub and the fact there’s only one Cavalier on the all-star team.
And Jefferson’s definitely the other.
Q: Does the GM have any other role in motivating players? Other than making roster moves? Does BC have any contact with the players to try and get them to play harder or better?
Mich G. North Bay
A: No, GMs pretty much leave the motivation and daily interaction to the coaches. There’s a definite order to things in the structure of an NBA team: Owners talk to GMs who talk to coaches who talk to players.
Q: I know that reporters, commentators, critics... always have an opinion, but do coaches, GM and perhaps team owners ever apply your suggestions or ideas and then come to you and thank you?, Do they ever realized that you as the team reporter feel the shame and the pain the fan is feeling?, I love the Raptors but it is a time for a change we need some trades.
Eduardo H, Fredericton
A: Take our advice and then thank us for it? Oh, my. That’s rich. No, I’m afraid that’s never happened and if it does, I hope the paramedics are close to revive me.
And I don’t feel the shame and pain the fans do. I’m not a fan, I’m a reporter who covers a team.