The regular weekly mail offerings
Something to get you through until the first early Sunday start of the season. Oh, and before you see the next episode of GruntTV.
Q: Hey Doug,_do you grunts get to participate in "Take your Kids Day?”
Mary L, Ajax
A: We can, if we had kids in Grade 9 but even then it’d only be to a practice or maybe a shootaround. There is such limited seating and such a demand that the Raptors can’t justify giving credentials and seats to anyone other than legitimately working journalists.
But I have taken a friend’s child to a Take Your Kids To Work Day one time for a practice and I’m sure they were bored to tears. Lots of standing around before the process of interviewing players actually takes place.
Q: So it's the morning after the first game and I'm wondering if you think the parade should go down Yonge Street, or if perhaps it should go across Eglinton, the geographic middle of the GTA?
Andy W, Toronto
A: I think it should go down Beale Street.
Q: Hi Doug.
At a literary festival I recently attended a question frequently asked of the authors concerns their particular writing process eccentricities - and they all seem to have at least one pretty unique requirement to stimulate and maintain their creative flow. One needed a completely quiet room with a half-filled glass of Glenfiddich. Another had to be wearing a specific item of clothing with her cat sleeping on a corner of the desk. Someone else could only write with a certain brand of paper and another certain type of pencil - but there was a weather variable to be worked in on that one, too...very complicated stuff. (And, even stranger - and certainly harder to live with - we were told that Gustav Flaubert had to shout out every word in his garden...yikes!!)__So, I am curious, Doug. Is there any one (or more!) things that you find are helpful in encouraging the free flow of your own writing process? A particular trick, quirk or idiosyncrasy to keep the "block" at bay? Thanks.
Lorie P, London
A: Given that I do most of my game work surrounded by 19,000 or so screaming fans, the need for solitude to think goes out the window. In fact, sometimes the energy of the crowd helps get the blood racing and the mind going.
And I guess because I write in such different surroundings – loud arenas, sort of loud press rooms, home with the TV going and hotel rooms with the TV going, too – I’d say the only thing I really need is some kind of white noise.
But there is one thing I do. If I’m stuck, I’ll walk around and talk myself through a story because I do think good writing is as much audible as anything, I want readers to “hear” the words as well as see them and read them.
So I’ll wander, talking quietly to myself and not once has anyone suggested I be committed. At least not for that.
Q: Sometimes you give us tidbits of the travel schedule for "grunts" and this week's flight schedule seems to have been particularly grueling. ("3:30a.m. wake up call for a 6:00 a.m. flight")
It seems to me that some of the media travel with the team on the chartered flights and some don't. How does that work? Do you get to travel with the team or are you stuck flying commercial all the time? How does it get decided?
Brenda C, Sault Ste. Marie
A: Team employees, those in the radio and television end of things, travel with the team. The few of us who travel regularly – and that’s a dwindling number – fly commercial and stay in far less opulent digs. We may meet up with members of the “official traveling party” for dinner and the like, but we take diverse routes to get there.
Q: The recap of Friday's game indicates (actually it clearly stated as much) that the Raptors weren't gritty enough inside. Which makes me think-- 'Gosh I sure wish we had a guy like Reggie Evans to help.' So I'm wondering if there is any update on his status. And if not how long might he be out of the lineup at the most?
TC W, North York
A: Lots of interest in Reggie, especially in light of what he might have done against Memphis. I saw him Saturday, he’s got a boot on but not crutches. No one’s saying anything official but it’s going to be a couple of weeks at least, just judging by the conditioning he’s lost and the fact he’s not walking on his own yet.
Q: Quick question for you Doug. When they give out the rings at the champion's first home game of the next season, it is very likely that some of the players who were on the championship team are no longer with the current team. Some may have retired and other have been traded. Just wondering if you recall a time when a traded player just happened to be on the visiting team the night they raise the banner. It would seem strange to get a ring wearing the other team's uniform._Wishing you may treats and few tricks.
Richard Y, Kincardine
A: I don’t recall any specific opening night situations like that but there have been several occasions where a visiting player has received his ring from a former team at his first game back in town. And I’d bet on every occasion they’re warmly welcomed.
Q: Looking at Bargs, Rasho, Shaq and Z crowding the floor simultaneously on Wednesday (for at least 2 different stretches), I was trying to think of the last time I've seen 4 real seven footers on the floor at once. I can't imagine it happens too often given the dearth of 7 footers who can actually play! Have you seen it?
Neils H, Toronto
A: I certainly don’t recall it; you’ve had great twosomes like Tim Duncan and David Robinson and, back in the day, Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson but four? None that come quickly to my mind.
Q: Hi Doug, is there somewhere on NBA.com or raptors.com or anywhere that I can subscribe to view Raptor season games live via internet streaming, similar to NFL?
Sorry if you've been asked this many times, but I cannot for the life of me find anything of that sort. It's time that I resume watching the Raps. Go Raps!
Philip K, Beijing
A: I believe the best place to check would be NBA.com for its League Pass broadband package. And since you’re obviously internet savvy, you should be able to find it with not much trouble.
Q: Hey Doug, during the opening gave versus the Cavs Matt Devlin made a comment that the Cleveland would be staying in town overnight instead of flying out to face their next opponent. He implied that it's because they think Toronto is a great city and it got me thinking how common this kind of thing is? Moreover, with LeBron and Bosh being old Olympic teammates is there a chance players from opposing teams would hang out while in town or is this something that's not allowed by the teams?
Shawn A, Toronto
A: Teams don’t generally stay, it may have had to do with availability of their plane (some jets go charter other sports teams when they’re not actually in use), it may have to do with hotel availability or just the whim of the coach or general manager. I don’t imagine anyone stays in Toronto after a game because it’s a great city, there would always be some other reason.
I know the Raptors only stay in cities overnight after games if they’ve got a day off following and won’t be able to fly into Pearson before the 2 a.m. curfew because they never want to fly to Hamilton and bus back to the city.
As for hanging out, there’s no rule or regulation that says they can’t and friends will often get together, either the night before the game or after if the visiting team stays.
Q: Hey Doug. Can you think of a good reason why teams in the NHL are rewarded for an overtime loss but those in the NBA aren't?
David S, Toronto
A: Because the NBA’s better than the NHL?
Because every athletic contest should have a winner and a loser and losers should shouldn't be rewarded, a fact not lost on the basketball people?
Because hockey fans need to be placated?
Because how else would the Leaves amass such gaudy points totals?
Q: Hey Doug
I wrote you way back in the Nothin' But Inter(Net) days. A religious reader since the blog started. I wrote something like CB4 for MVP, Fred Jones for MIP and AP for 6th man, that worked out eh? On to my question, do you think Antoine Wright could eventually grow into an offensive role. He's still fairly young at 25, and he definitely hasn't hit a peak talent-wise.
Aaron F, Dartmouth
A: Let’s just say he probably could but he doesn’t have to and that’s not where he’s going to make his money or his mark on the league.
I do think he’s got some aggressiveness to his offensive game that could be utilized; not sure how good a jump shooter he is right now.
But he’s going to make his name as a defensive wing who’ll get you a bunch of points every now and then.
Q: Douglas,_after some success with getting my questions/comments posted, I'm going through a little bit of slump. So here's my attempt to get out of it and come up with a though-provoking head scratching question:
While being monetarily successful in the NBA, has Marcus Banks' playing time and subsequent development been halted because of the contract he signed? It seems that for the most part his salary has been included as filler for at least 3 trades over the last few years. This resulting in coaches get an overpaid player that they don't want/need. Had Marcus been paid modestly over a shorter term, would he not have gotten a chance to be a suitable back-up for a one of the many talent challenged teams in the NBA?
Marino F, Toronto
A: I don’t think the coaches care how much he makes, if he could do well enough in practice to crack a rotation, they’d use him. In fact, I think you could say some teams might give a guy like him more of a chance to stick than they would someone on a non-guaranteed one-year deal because they know someone like Banks is going to be around a while.
He’s had his chances with four teams now and hasn’t really stuck and, at each stop, I’m sure he’s been given the chance to crack a rotation.
If he made less? I think he might have been waived or bought out by now.
Q: Hey Doug,_I was wondering if you could give some insight as to what players do the hours leading up to the games. How early do they have to be at the arena? Do they eat? How long is a shoot around? Is there an intensive coach/player meeting?
Matt M, Hamilton
A: On a typical game day, one that isn’t the second of a back-to-back, the team’s shootaround is either at 10 a.m. (home games) or 11 a.m. (road games). The players are at the arena about 20 minutes before it begins and then shuttled back to their hotel right after. It's during the shootaround that they'd hold a "meeting" to go over the opponents offensive and defensive tendencies and plays.
Generally, there’s a lunch laid out for them and while attendance isn’t mandatory, most take part. In the afternoon, some players will get medical treatment, some will nap, some will just hang out resting.
They generally start getting back to the gym around 4 for a 7 p.m. game (they like them all there by 5 or 5:30, it varies from team to team) and then it’s on with the show.
Q: Hi Doug. Thanks again for all the great work. Regarding the booing of HWSNBN, I once heard that the opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy. So I agree with the silence route on this one. Anyway, I do not want to be a conspiracy theorist regarding the refs, but from my observation it seemed that Zach and Gasol were not only more physical than Andrea and Bosh, but that they were allowed to get away with more without being called for fouls. When several Raps tried to get more physical/ active on the offensive end, it still seemed to result in many non-calls. There were several drives to the hoop where no call was made but it seemed obvious there was a foul (See Bosh and Jose at the beginning of the fourth and Hedo at the end of the game for example). So my question is how much does the reputation of the team style impact the ref reactions and calls. If a team is known to be physical on the offensive glass and getting position, and another team is seen as finesse, then when the finesse team tries to 'change' style midstream, does it 'seem like' more of a foul than the players who do it all the time? Thanks as always.
Randy M, Crystal Beach
A: I don’t know that it’s teams more than it’s individuals who get “reputations” over a period of time. I know this has been the week to kill refs, what with the bad game here on Wednesday and the Donaghy stuff on Thursday but I don’t agree that they know what teams are known for and make their calls accordingly.
I’m in the minority on this one, I know and don’t care, but I honestly believe they try to get every call right. Do they? No, but it’s human failings rather than any agenda.
Q: Hi Doug. Great job with Grunt TV. Wondering if you could fill us in on what's going with our old friend Glen Grunwald? Is he still in New York?_
Sohail G, Collingwood
A: He is indeed still an assistant general manager with the Knicks. I’m not sure exactly what his job duties entail but I hear he’s just a trusted advisor and a voice in the collaborative group that Donnie Walsh has put together in New York these days.
Q: Hey Doug. I actually have a non-Raptor related question. I heard that tonight in Miami they retired Hardaway's #11 to the rafters. I was shocked after his gay-bashing rant a few years ago that the organization chose to honour him. If he had made those comments about Blacks or Women or Jews, he would NEVER be forgiven. I'm curious to know your thoughts._Thanks and keep up the good work.
Matthew M, Toronto
A: I agree whole-heartedly, but I can also surmise that the Heat felt he had been appropriately apologetic and enough time had passed. Not entirely sure I agree, I don’t think I do actually, but people do forgive some mistakes more quickly than others.
But I wouldn’t have retired the number.
Q: Seeing the HUGE smile on Alvin William's face at team introductions this Wednesday was awesome. Who were the happiest ex-Raptors to set foot inside the building or organization? I'd say Mo-Pete and JYD were 2.
Justin L, North York
A: You probably got the top three right but you know who else was really happy to come back? Kevin Willis, back in the day.
And let me tell you, when Matt Bonner first returned it was all hugs and kisses and fun all around.
Q: Scorers question Doug. C.B. gets hacked driving for a layup. Ball falls in and I assume he is scored a made shot + 1. If the ball rolls out, is he charged a shot and miss even though he is fouled in the act - thus leading to a less than stellar shooting percentage?
Den F, Victoria
A: No, that’s a non-event in shooting stats. As I think it should be.
Q: Hi Doug, this is probably an odd question, but I've noticed that when the play is dead, Bargnani seems to be often in a position where he is leaning with forearms/elbows on his knees... like he's looking for support. Just an observation.
Often when lining up for free throws, but also tonight I noticed it in time outs or just dead time during play. Is this just a habit? Is he fatigued? Or maybe the camera caught him at these times and everybody does this?
It just seems like a not a good position to have as your "default" from a physiological point of view._Curious in Toronto.
Kate C, Toronto
A: Not odd at all. I don’t think it’s fatigue as much, as you say, his “default” position. One thing about Andrea is that he’s not nearly as outwardly emotional and demonstrative as a lot of NBAers, although we are seeing more outbursts of enthusiasm now than we have at any time before.
I know the team would like him to be a bit more “engaged” and I also think he’s working on it. His posture? That’ll have to come later.