Put the cold drumstick down and read this
Hi everyone. Miss me?
Anyway, now that we’ve got the “I Love You, You Love Me, Kumbaya Moments” over for another Christmas season, can we get back to our usual cynical, snarky ways?
(Seriously, hope everyone had a safe and fun holiday).
Anyway, this mailbag’s good. Not as good as last week’s but I chalk that up to the distractions of the holidays.
We’ll be better next week.
For now …
(Oh yeah, don’t forget: in-game blog at 1 p.m., tell all your friends)
Q: Hey Doug. Beer question: in your travels around the NBA, which region would you say has the best micro-breweries? I was in Boulder Colorado in October and was very impressed by the local beers. Follow up question: is there an NBAer who comes to mind as a real beer connoisseur?
Geoff R, London
A: Why not start with something quite divorced from basketball.
Colorado’s pretty good but the Pacific Northwest is where I’d start. That’s the shame of losing Seattle in such a bad trade. But, to be honest, you can find one good one almost anywhere.
I’m not sure if there’s an NBA player who knows his way around a craft brewery. Their tastes run a bit more high-falutin’ than that, I think. If I find one, I’ll let you know.
Q: Doug: There had been some chatter about the possibility of Toronto getting it's own D-League team. Just wondering on what the status is on that, and would there be any chance that the D-League team end up in a city other than Toronto (like Halifax, etc).
Ryan K, Pictou County, NS
A: The economic times killed that idea, at least for the time being, where Maple Leaf Sports is concerned, and I’m not sure what it would take to resurrect it.
I don’t think these guys would own, or own a share of, a franchise outside of southern Ontario but I’m kind of surprised no one’s taken a long hard look at Halifax. With the D League firmly ensconced in Maine and that area, it’s a logical next step. That said, it’s not me investing money.
Q: Hi, Doug. For a player like Reggie Evans who's been inactive for such a long time, what kind of conditioning program would they have him on to at least minimize his muscle and cardio loss. I suppose running would be out of the question but he can certainly lift. What would he do for cardio?
Edwin Y, Toronto
A: Definitely some weight work, some time in the pool, and maybe some light bike work for cardio. I’m not privy to their entire workout regiment but I do know they keep them pretty busy.
I’m sure there’s some other odd anaerobic or aerobic work that the trainers come up with but it’s not something I’m the least bit familiar with.
Q: You might be tired of questions about the mechanics of your blog, but after reading a response from last week's mailbag, I thought I'd ask.
When a reader asked about fluctuation in readership due to the team's success, you said the blog was steady, but the in-game feed was up-and-down. As I generally watch the game at home (or through a pint glass at a place with a bunch of giant TVs), I don't read the in-game during the game, but rather afterward, to look for any insights that may differ from my own and those of the on-air personalities.
Do the numbers account for those of us (and I might be the only one) who read the in-game feed after the game? If not, please tell the counters to add 1 to the total.
J H, Toronto
A: Oh, I don’t get tired of them but I worry that the irregulars might. But, to heck with them at the moment.
I’m not sure who actually tracks what at our office, I know where to look to find out number of blog hits and number of participants or readers of the in-game blog. And there is a mechanism where I can see the number of people who “review” the in-game thing, and I do look on occasions. That’s where you’d be counted. But, again, I’m not sure which big shot at our place looks.
Q: Hey Doug. Looooooooong time reader first time writer. This isn't a question about the 2010 free agency bonanza but it is a question about Bosh and the rumours surrounding it all. From what you know of him, does he take it as a major slight that nobody is talking about building a team around him next year outside of Toronto. Every single scenario I've read anywhere seems to assume he'll be deciding whether he'll be playing Pippen for Dirk, LeBron or Wade. He worked incredibly hard all summer to be considered in the same league as those players but despite the numbers he's putting up this season it would seem he's still considered second tier. Has all of that taken any kind of toll on his ability to stay mentally strong and focused.
Tim P, Toronto
A: Quite the contrary. I think it still drives him. But he also knows that another thing that sets those other guys apart from him is team success so Bosh is doing whatever he can to try and get the Raptors, as a team, into the consciousness of fans.
But taken its toll? I don’t think so at all.
Q: Hi Doug. I have two questions for you.
First, when you record your Grunt TV, are you reading from a script? It looks like you aren't looking directly into the webcam. As well, do you get it right on the first take?
Second, When Reggie Evans comes back and is fully in the rotation, who do you think is going to be the odd man out?
Steven W, Thornhill
A: No, I don’t use a script, I kind of rehearse a bit beforehand and may have notes jotted down but I find it’s easier to just think I’m having a conversation with you people. Whether that works or not, I don’t know. And looking in the camera, which is a little pinhole at the top of my laptop screen, is something I need to get better at. All I’ll say in my defence is that it’s a work in progress. Takes? Anywhere from one to 10, depending on my level of fumble-mouthedness, if that’s even a word.
On Evans, I’ve said all along there’s not going to be an “odd man out.” There’s plenty of room for him, Amir, Bosh and Bargnani in a four-man bigs rotation and if it means cutting a couple of minutes from all three of them, that might be a good thing, keep them fresher for longer. Rasho is still going to have his limited role when the inevitable foul trouble and injuries pop up but to think Reggie will “take the place” of anyone is wrong.
Q: Hello again, and here is my question: Do we know yet how many of the Raptors would be playing for their respective national teams this summer at the world championship?
As for your planned trip to Izmir next summer, I would be more than pleased to help in anyway I can. Would you be extending your stay to cover the above mentioned?
Petek C, Istanbul
A: We don’t know for sure about all of them for next summer except for Turkoglu, who is a lock to play for Turkey. Bosh has said he’d play for the U.S. again but he hasn’t signed anything and I know Jose will think about returning to the Spanish team. Other than that, Italy didn’t qualify and Rasho’s time with his national team is over.
At the two world championships I’ve been at – Athens in 1998 and Indianapolis in 2002 – Canada was done early and I stayed to cover the playoffs and medals; I would presume it’d be the same this time around.
Q: Hey Doug, The lure of a little something extra in the stocking makes me set aside the wrapping, stuffing and Seasonal Imbibing briefly to submit an enquiry for the mailbag.
A question about the gaggle of media that surround the Raptors. A while ago the concept of the "alpha dog" position on a team was discussed here, or in the blog. And I wonder if there is a similar hierarchy within the ranks of reporters that bring us our Raptors news. Specifically, because of your seniority writing about the team (is your tenure the longest?), are you accorded the same deference which was given for years to the indominatable Helen Thomas by her fellow members of the White House Press Corps?
For example, if there is an "obvious" or most "pressing" question to be asked after a game of a player or coach when you are all gathered in the scrum, are you the one expected to, or indeed, given the first opportunity to ask it, or is more a case of everyone for themselves?
And, is there any manner of cooperation among the media where, if you have a more comfortable relationship with a particular person associated with the team, information might be shared or made available to a fellow reporter?
As an aside, how much lead time do you need and how do you go about arranging a one-on-one interview with a player or coach? Has there ever been a case where for whatever reason such a request has been denied? Thanks! Lorie P, London
A: I am the longest tenured but that and $5.93 will get you a quad vente non-fat latte at the local Starbucks.
Seriously, though, there is no real hierarchy that I can see, we all pretty much respect each other and everyone gets their shot at whatever questions they need answered. There is professional decorum and courtesies, though, and, sadly, some people forget them. It’s things like never disrupting or interrupting a one-on-one conversation and if someone’s taking a particular line of questioning in a scrum, you need to let them finish before starting yours if it’s different angle you’d like to pursue.
And, no, we’re pretty proprietary about the information we glean and don’t share very often. The exception, and this happens rarely, would be if a gaggle of us are in a scrum and someone’s tape recorder blows up or won’t work. A pro will offer a colleague a transcript because we’d like the same consideration and help in return.
Depending on the situation, you can arrange one-on-one interviews in minutes, actually. But if it’s a lengthy, sit-down process, it’s best to give a couple of days notice.
Q: Hey Doug, here's a question I'm not sure has been asked nor tackled before. If so, my apologies. I've read in a few articles at different occasions that having Turkoglu play alongside Bosh doesn't seem to be working as well as expected. Whether it's true or not, my question is "What type of player IS required to play alongside Bosh that will bring out the best in him and that player?" By reading said articles, I can see their point. The Jermaine O'Neal experiment didn't work, Bargnani isn't scaring anyone and the Turkoglu experiment is so-so. What are your thoughts on the ideal Robin to Bosh's Batman?
Alan M, Winnipeg
A: Kobe? LeBron? Wade? That’d be three. Unrealistic, of course. But a game-changing swingman would sure help.
But I will point this out: I know to many Hedo Turkoglu’s been a bust – I think he’s just been less a factor but far from a bust – but isn’t it true that Bosh is having his best season playing alongside a ball-handing veteran who can facilitate the offence from the small forward spot?
Q: The other day you mentioned the running work the players who are DNP must do after a game to maintain their game conditioning.
How important is conditioning in extending the life of a NBAer?
What position requires the most conditioning to be a successful NBAer?
Would Iverson be of more value to a team today if he ever took practice and conditioning seriously throughout his career?
And someone like Grant Hill who missed so much of playing time because of injury, is he playing so well now because of lack of wear and tear and having good conditioning and work ethic or is it just pedigree?
As a parent to a young athlete it’s hard sometimes to find examples of hard work and conditioning making a key difference to the quality, length or impact it can have on a career of a professional athlete.
Colin M, Innisfil
A: It’s hugely important and your daughter or son should listen to you.
When kids are young – and I’m talking about NBA rookies even – they think they’re indestructible and there will be no consequences to burning the candles at both ends.
I’m trying to think of specific examples and am drawing a blank but, believe me, there are guys who have been out of the league at 22 or 23 years old simply because they didn’t work hard enough at keeping their bodies in shape. And it’s a 12-months a a year job now.
Take a guy like Eddy Curry, for instance. I know he’s made money and all that but, early in his career, there were concerns about his dedication to work and it’s cost him, not money I guess, but a chance to be as good as he can be.
On the other hand, look at Steve Nash.
That guy is never out of shape, his core strength is incredible, he’s spent as much time working in the summer as he does in the season and it’s earned him two MVPs, untold riches, likely a spot in the Hall of Fame and he could go for three or four more years. And it’s because he practices, and keeps himself in prime condition every day of the year.
He is the gold standard you should hold up to your child.
Q: Hey Doug. Just a bit curious about a random stat in the wake of the beat-down the team put on the Pistons. What is the lowest score the Raps have ever held an opponent to? Was it as wide a margin of victory or was it some 60-55 game from the Kevin O'Neill era?
Alex S, Toronto
A: Guessing the KO year was good, but not good enough.
On March 19, 2008, the Raptors held a truly awful, injury-riddled Miami team to 54 points. Lowest opponent scoring total ever.
Q: Doug, Haven't heard much about Stern this year - does that speak to his putting the game first or is he stepping back a bit looking to retirement? Has there been talk of a successor?
C M, Aurora
A: He’s been around, I saw him do some U.S. media in the last little while but he’s generally quiet this time of year. I’m sure he’ll have his usual “state of the game” news conference at the all-star weekend festivities.
A successor? There hasn’t been, really; but Adam Silver, a league big shot with a keen business sense, seems to be linked to the top job n some circles.
Q: Hey Doug. With the all-star game being held in a 80,000 seat+ stadium this year (Cowboys Stadium in Arlington), does that mean more tickets will be available for real fans than is normally the case at these corporate schmooze-fests?
Sean K, Ottawa
A: It does, yes. I’m not sure how many but Mark Cuban was on record years ago saying he wasn’t all that interested in all-star games because there was no room for regular fans. And since he’s now got the game, I presume he only did it because normal folk would be able to attend.
Q: Hey Doug, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you and your family. All the best.
I couldn't help but laugh at the fan who suggested Babcock might be a better G.M than B.C. Absolutely ridiculous and I understand why you hate talking to fans sometimes.
Anyway, in that fans comment/question was something along the lines of asking you to judge or grade B.C as a G.M. You commented on how it's ridiculous to think Babcock was a better G.M, but didn't address the grading of B.C.
Now, please understand I DO NOT advocate we get rid of B.C. I want to know how you would grade him for his time in Toronto. I have a hard time with this since he seems to be pretty creative in changing personnel, but the results haven't been there. Yes, we won a division title (mind you in a very weak division), but we have yet to win a round in the playoffs.
Would a "C" or "B-" be too harsh? I know grade letters are a bit of a joke, so if you want to use something else, please do.
Dex M, Miami
A: I’d say, overall, a C plus maybe.
Getting the franchise he took over into two playoff series in the first two full seasons took some bold and successful moves and I will say this for him: If something isn’t working, he wastes no time trying to correct it. And I think when history judges this team at the end of this season, that grade could very well go up.
Last year was a bad one, no question, and probably knocked him down a peg or two but, overall, things have improved since he took over.
Winning a playoff series has as much to do with matchups as anything, actually, in my opinion.
Q: A victory is a victory but I can't help but wonder how many of the Raps' wins this year have come when their opponents are playing the second of two games? What's their record when playing teams who are on the back end and their record when they are the team on the back end?
JT G, Alexandria
A: They are now 5-1 when playing opponents who are finishing a back-to-back and 1-6 when they are playing for a second consecutive night.
Q: Hey Doug. It is nice to see the Raps beginning to gel, in particular the 2nd unit. Players seem to be developing a better understanding of their roles and the rotations are becoming predictable. What are the three major areas the team has to work on in order to develop excellent on-court chemistry?
Andy F, Toronto
A: Well, you hit on one with the consistent rotation, that’s a huge part of developing chemistry, knowing when you’re going to play and who you’ll generally play alongside.
Developing trust defensively. If you send your guy where you’re supposed to send him, it’s imperative that the help is there and the rotations will be done correctly.
The other one is continued unselfishness on offence. If I pass up a good shot to get you a better one, I would expect the same consideration if the roles are reversed on the next possession. That’s a “trust” issue to, only at the other end of the court.
Q: I just wanted to know does the team take a bus to Auburn hills or flight? And likewise for other close cities like Leafs and the Sabers and Cavs and Steelers. Do most franchises take the bus if it is a short haul like under 4 hours?
Jordan P, Toronto
A: These guys fly everywhere. Auburn Hills, Cleveland and on road trips when the two cities are geographically close, like Oakland-Sacramento, or Miami-Orlando or Philly-New York-Washington.
And as far as I know, every team is the same.
Some of it has to do with comfort – a charter is far better than a bus – plus having a plane around to either finish trips or get home more quickly after games is much easier on everyone.
Q: Hi Doug - listening to the post practice interviews last night, I'm sure I heard children in the background. Do the players or coaches bring their kids to the ACC to hang out?
Sherry E, Toronto
A: I presume you’re talking about the practice the day they left for Detroit? Yes, there were kids there, a trio of young Devlins getting a tour with their dad. It’s certainly not the norm; Jay runs a pretty tight ship around practice but it’s not unheard of for some little ones to get in the gym long after the players have done their work for the day.
Q: Greetings from Spain! This is a story to help grow "The Legend", now that these could be his last days in Canada (as the story is a bit too long, feel free to edit it at your will). To understand the "greatness" I think that your readers will need this notes about bball in Spain. ACB league is perhaps the most important pro basketball competition in the world, outside NBA. 18 teams play each other twice in a 34 games regular season and the first eight teams play for the title in a playoff system (until here, nothing special).The main difference with NBA is that the last two teams after regular season loose their places in the league and "go down" to the second level (LEB league, also pro, first two teams "go up" to ACB). End of intro.
Once upon a time (may 2008 if you want to know), there was a basketball team in Granada, Spain. It was the last game of the regular season and they needed to win (and that some other teams lose, too) or it would be the end of their journey in ACB. Granada was facing Jose's former team Tau Vitoria, a powerhouse that won the title that year, and, to make it even more epic, their best player (Curtis Borchartd, center) was injured. Then, in the darkest moment of the darkest night, The Legend Knight came to the rescue and with 22 and 9 (games last 40 min., not 48) he defeated the dragon and disappeared and the good people in Granada kept always a place for him in their humble hearts (and they also kept their place in the league).
Pablo E, Ovieda, Spain
A: There is no question here, I know. But it’s a good story.
Q: First off happy holidays. I hope you and your family had a Merry Christmas and have a happy new year. I actually have two questions. First off, what is a team rebound? Secondly, if a player takes a free throw and he misses it and your team gets the ball is it considered an offensive rebound? Thanks
M A, Toronto
A: A team rebound is awarded on such things as a missed shot being knocked out of bounds by the shooting team; missed shots at the end of a quarter or game, 24-second clock violations
And, yes, indeed it is an offensive rebound. Same as a player on the defending team getting a defensive rebound when he grabs a missed free throw.
Q: Hey Doug. You recently said that Orlando and Miami was a Dave trip for Dave Feschuk of the Star. It seems like Mr Feschuk gets all the nice destinations (Florida in the winter) and New York (last year0 while you’re stuck in places like Milwaukee. How do you guys pick which games to cover? Lottery?
John O, Toronto
A: We sit down a couple of times a year – usually in like September for the first three months of the season and in December for the last three – and break down the schedule. There are the usual tugs on who does what, like other non-work obligations, no one wants to do too many trips in a row and, yes, we have our favourite cities we like to visit. It’s a collaborative effort and it evens out over the course of a season.
Q: Just browsing through a list of team payrolls for 2009-2010 and I got thinking: is it really that simple? If you look at the list, then put it beside a Power Rankings list - voila! All becomes clear: whoever spends the most wins the most. Yes, there were 3 or 4 exceptions (hello Knicks, and also Portland at the bottom end), but, really it matched up pretty darn well.
So, is it really that simple?
Don H, Lima, Peru
A: No. Not at all. Not even close.
If it were that simple wouldn’t the highest payroll teams play in the final every year? That doesn’t happen. And the exceptions you provide are good and prove my point. Don’t forget Dallas and Cleveland in that list. And consider that San Antonio in a perennial contender and hardly spendthrift and that Orlando got to the final last year with a relatively low payroll.
Spending does not equal winning and never has.
Q: Jose did it at least once:
Jan. 25 2008 Jose 12 assists Bucks 11
Jan.5 2007 both Jose and the Hawks had 12 assists
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: This is in reference to Turkoglu having more assists on his own in Detroit than the entire Pistons team had, right?
Q: Hey. It was pretty disappointing when you mentioned you had never heard of Dujuan Summers. I mean, any hoop junkie has heard of him. It amazes me, do you not follow college hoops? Do you not follow the draft?
Luke E, Toronto
A: Hmm. You mean DaJuan Summers? I guess some hoops junkies don’t quite get the game the name right.
I barely follow college basketball, in fact; I find it kind of boring. And when the second round of last June’s NBA draft was being conducted, I was writing my Raptors story and paying scant attention.
When the draft comes around? I pay attention to the top few picks, whatever group the team I cover is drafting in and that’s about it.