Today has to be a better day, doesn't it?
Join Doug Smith for a live Q&A at 1 p.m. Friday, as the Raptors prepare to take on the Washington Wizards.
Hey, irregulars. Here’s the gig:
We’ll be back at 1 p.m. today to do the usual chat (had to switch from noon because the office is preoccupied with the World Cup draw then) but that’ll be it for the day here.
I’ve got some plans for this evening that involve a Mighty Yankees Coaches and Maybe Some Dads post-work bun-toss and then I may find a nice local bar stool to sit at and watch a game without having to type every 40 seconds.
That’ll let me relax before the morning flight to Chicago to pick up the lads for their match with the Bulls.
See ya later. Until then, have at it …
Since no one was talking much yesterday – couple of e-mails to people who normally respond weren’t answered – I’m not entirely sure what, if any, changes might be contemplated by the Raptors tonight.
Two ways to look at it:
I would be shocked if there wasn’t something. Not necessarily as punishment or reward, but because the level of frustration is off the charts and sometimes change is good simply because it’s change.
But, on the other hand, consider this: If they do make changes, is it giving whiny players (all of whom need to play better regardless of their roles) an excuse? And knowledge that, like little screaming kids in malls, that if they yell they’ll get their way. And Lord knows what they might try next time.
Difficult balancing act.
That was some kind of day.
You know how coaches are always saying you learn more about players in bad times than you do in good?
Same with readers, a point I knew but one that was hammered home on an otherwise nice off-day of doing mindless stuff around the house.
Lots of comments – more than 100 – and probably as many e-mails. Lots of interesting opinion, some that I and others share; some quite off the wall, in my opinion. But all written, it seemed, from the heart.
And then, my friends, we come to the knuckleheads. You know, like the two or three blatantly racist comments I deleted immediately, the name-calling, the childish remarks. You know, classy stuff.
Not sure if it makes people feel significant, or smart, or silly but it’s a pain the butt to have to read ‘em. Luckily, while everyone out there has the “send” key, I also have the “delete” key.
As I’ve said many times before, the vast majority of you wear your hearts on your sleeves and have an unbridled passion for your team that is to be applauded and, I would hope, appreciated and noticed by the people who matter in Raptorland.
The punks? Well, they’re likes pimples on the ass of the world. Flaws you just have to live with.
But, I’ve got to tell you, every now and then I wish someone would come along and pop those pimples into oblivion.
Wanna get away from these Heroes Of The Hardcourt for a bit?
I notice that the season’s almost a quarter over (yes, I am trained professional) and that means it’s time to take stock of a few things.
The big surprise
You’d have to put Phoenix at the top, wouldn’t you? Oldsters like Steve Nash and Grant Hill are rolling and the other guys are not stiffs by any stretch of the imagination. Thought they’d be okay, but 14-5 after playing 13 games on the road already? That’s impressive.
The big disappointment
In these parts it’s these guys but maybe all those people out there around the league who gave them no respect before the season began were smarter than some thought. So we’ll take the locals out and, right now, maybe it’s a tie between Washington and New Orleans. The Wizards just looked “off” the other night here; the Hornets are old and slow on the wings and will be life and death to make the playoffs.
Allen Iverson announces retirement.
Yeah, right. We all know he was just playing Toronto against Philly to get a new deal, right?
Ron Artest: I used to swill Hennessy at halftime, and in the car (being driven by someone else) on the way to the game and I smoked a lot of pot and partied hard. And I just want to get this out now to show how irresponsible I was. But, believe me, I’m really better now and there will be no temptation whatsoever to party in Los Angeles. Not gonna happen. Honest.
The Raptors, Sixers, Knicks and Nets are a combined 16-60 and have lost 32 straight games between the four of them. The sound you hear is Doc Rivers snickering.
Sure, the chant can be annoying (Michael Lee’s story says they do it for Earl Boykins, for God’s sake) but I guess there are some legitimate candidates right now. Like:
Steve Nash. I know he’s the hometown favourite but he’s legit, right?
Kobe Bryant. You’d be astonished at home many people I talk to – coaches, players, scouts – rave about every aspect of his game. To them, he’s the best; and it’s by a far, far, far wider margin than you’d think.
Who’ll fall first?
Milwaukee’s fast start was built on an easy scheduled dominated by home games; they’ll be back where they belong soon, I think. And that’s in the 9-12 slot in the East.
On the rise?
Do not sleep on the Spurs. Yes, they lost to Boston last night to go to 9-7 but that’s a veteran team that knows it doesn’t matter a lick what they do in November and December, they will be judged by how they do in the playoffs.
Bryan Colangelo to various reporters yesterday, paraphrased:
“This is not a coaching issue. You want someone to blame? Blame me. I still believe in this group but talk is cheap.”
Right on every count.
It is on him, mainly (although the players really need to take some responsibility for the shocking lack of effort and basketball intelligence we see on almost a nightly basis) and he’ll be judged at the end of the season.
Not on Dec. 4.
Speaking of oblivion, there’s a game tonight.
I imagine everyone’s pumped for this, aren’t they?
Wouldn’t it be a hoot if they won tonight and tomorrow and went 2-1 on this trip? I know, there are no pigs flying around Mississauga as I type this but it would be a hoot, no?
Anyway, not sure what Mike Lee was up to yesterday on the Wizards beat, let’s read here and see what he had.
Best Washington story?
It’s Dec. 31, 1997, Raptors at Wizards, Toronto’s 4-25 and no one cares about ‘em at all. There’s no blogs, no chats, no nothing. No one gets up early and reads New Year’s Day papers so all we’re hoping for is a quick, uneventful game, a chance to escape the arena before the Gladys Knight concert (no Pips, just Gladys) and grab a cocktail or six.
Well, we’re talking to then-coach Darrell Walker before the game and Darrell’s a wee miffed at rookie Tracy McGrady. About an hour to game time, Darrell tells us that if Tracy doesn’t smarten up, he’ll be out of the NBA in three years when his rookie contract is up. Seeing how Toronto and Isiah had put a lot of stock in young Tracy and here’s the coach all but saying he’s a bust, it becomes, you know, a rather significant story.
So we write it, write the gamer, the night drags on forever (Toronto gets edged 118-91 in a thriller, as I recall and it was a 9 p.m. start to give Gladys a chance at attracting a crowd) and we’re sitting in the press room listening to her muffled singing of Auld Lang Syne at midnight.
Trundled back to the hotel we used to stay on the edge of Georgetown, it’s freaking LOBBY BAR IS CLOSED so it’s two Miller Lites out of the minibar to usher in 1998.
And that beats Mo Pete’s circus shot as the best Washington story in franchise history.