A visitor from the west signals a sign of the times
Join Doug Smith for a live Q&A at noon Wednesday, as the Raptors prepare to take on the Miami Heat.
What’s this? A “big” game on a Wednesday night in January? Seems that way.
We’re standing on the concourse waiting for practice to end Tuesday – a few minutes before we saw DeMar come limping out of the gym – when a great visitor from the west came out of the elevator.
Wayne Embry, who remains the guy who started this whole Raptors renaissance in motion by getting the Knicks to take Jalen Rose way back in the day, is in town and it can only mean one thing:
Trade deadline’s coming and all hands are on deck to talk about it.
Along with the presence of Jim Kelly, who we saw out and about Sunday evening, it’s time for those kinds of organizational meetings that happen once or twice a year.
(Trust me, Wayne’s pretty anti-winter and to see him here instead of at his warm Arizona home means it’s a command performance).
With the trade deadline three weeks from today, it’s about time to start figuring out what’s out there in the deal world anyway.
About the only thing of real interest I’m hearing from the Usual Suspects I talk to in the organization is that there is some chatter from teams interested in Antoine Wright but that the Raptors would be looking at an upgrade at the backup two-three spot without a huge financial burden if they were to move him.
The sense I’m getting from these conversations is that there’s nothing huge percolating at the moment and that there’s not a lot of activity being initiated by the Raptors.
But I warn you – and I warn you every year about now – things can happen relatively fast and just because there isn’t anything going on now doesn’t mean there won’t be anything going on Feb. 18 when it comes time to fish or cut bait.
The first clue was the blue shoes on a couple of guys at practice Tuesday.
Tonight’s a Huskies Night!
Yep, lots of extra pressure on the lads against Miami tonight as they put a all-time unbeaten record in Huskies blue and white on the line.
Forget about the 2-0 this year.
These guys have never, ever, not once been beaten in the throwback jerseys.
They’re 3-0 (opening night, 1996) and if that’s not enough to add to the hype, I don’t know what is.
Chat today? How about noon? Work for you? It works for me so let’s do it.
It was rather interesting to listen to Chris Bosh talking about the Miami game and what kind of buzz he expected – if any – for a Wednesday night game in the middle of January for a team that’s having a hard time selling out a lot of games this year.
The thing that got me was this one:
“Any time Dwyane Wade is here a lot of Dwyane fans come out and there’s a lot of hype behind the game.”
Coming on the heels of the Kobe love-fest from a large chunk of Sunday’s game, it seems people do take notice of these things.
I have to admit, I don’t remember any particular time the fans were all about Wade like they are all about Kobe, but I guess there has been some open appreciation showing.
Everyone I talked to about Sunday’s Laker game was uber-impressed with the energy of the crowd down the stretch but there were some eyebrows raised about the number of No. 24 jerseys in the crowd.
The Heat are starting a stretch of something crazy like 11 of their next 13 games on the road or somesuch and here’s how Ira wrote it up this morning.
Speaking of Huskies Night, it’s also a night to “recognize” a blast from the past.
Hello, Doug Christie, it’s your time to shine.
Yes, I’m told she’ll be here, too.
As part of daily session with us – a growing number of “us” these days because they’re winning and all the part-timers are coming around – Jay was asked about Marco and his shot selection and how often he cringes when a wacky one gets hoisted up. Jay surveys the crowd around him and gives us this:
“I don’t think I’ve ever complained about any shot any of our guys have taken. The last time I complained about a shot somebody took was probably when Sherman took one back in the Olympics.”
Of course, Sherman Hamilton, who doesn’t get nearly enough credit for being one of the best broadcasters in the game in this country, is standing right there in the thick of the scrum and takes umbrage.
“I was open when I took that shot.”
And as I recall a lot of Sherm’s shots, I bet it went in.
All joking aside, when Jay added this, his point was made:
“Guys aren’t going to take shots thinking they’re going to miss, they’re going to take shots thinking they’re going to make them. I like to give guys the freedom to be able to shoot the basketball.”
Not only is that music to the ears of players, it makes entire sense because, as we’ve pointed out numerous times this year, offence is not a concern with this team; it’s going to score enough points to win on an overwhelming percentage of nights and if some of those points come on unorthodox shots, so be it.
Okay, here’s the deal.
The First Annual Winter Celebration And Reunion Of The Mighty Yankees – Parents Only Because There Will Be Intoxicants is taking place Saturday night at a local Swinging Hotspot (first one to get that esoteric lyric reference wins undying gratification) and that’s sure to not only take that evening out of the work rotation but make Sunday morning a tad, um, cloudy.
The results are in:
You people are good; and it's not just Young 'Uns here. Nice to know People Of A Certain Age read this stuff. Well done.
So get the mail in early by clicking here because the usual Saturday night at the desk watching games and answering isn’t going to happen.
A few of us had a very interesting chat with Bruce Kidd on Tuesday morning before practice; he’s the new chairman of the Team Up Foundation, which is the new conglomeration of charitable groups representing the various Maple Leaf Sports teams.
I’ll get into this a little bit more in the next couple of days but Kidd – one of the most respected educators, social commentators and leaders I’ve come across – seems to think his group can take a lead in helping change some blights on youth today because, as he said:
“We’re facing a crisis of physical inactivity in our society.”
I do think the now-defunct Raptors Foundation, run by a couple of hardest-working in show business, did a very good job with its programs to promote fitness, literacy and other issues and I can only hope the well-respected Kidd keeps that good work going.
Giant corporations like Maple Leaf Sports do have an obligation to do more than take money and disappoint fans and they need to be more active in important social causes.