Mighty Mouse and other stuff
Join Doug Smith at noon Wednesday for a live basketball Q&A, as the Raptors get ready to take on the Memphis Grizzlies.
And now the so-called “second half” begins.
Six over .500 at 29-23, comfortably in fifth, almost as close to fourth as they are to sixth and rolling.
Everyone feeling a tad confident?
Guess there’s reason to, they have been playing quite well of late and there’s no real reason to think they won’t keep at the same level for much of the final 30-game trek to the post-season.
But as I mentioned the other day to Mr. Bosh, mental toughness has not been a consistent trademark of this team – there are too many in-game blips and too many games where they simply don’t play hard enough – and that’s going to be the most interesting thing to watch.
And to read about here:
The first clue?
No, not Blue’s Clues, silly; blue shoes.
Seeing the different footwear on the Raptors at practice on Tuesday can mean only one thing: Wednesday is a Huskies night.
And so it is, with Memphis assistant coach Damon Stoudamire the designated honouree.
Makes entire sense to me and got me thinking about Mighty Mouse’s legacy here.
I know how fans felt – the boos for him his first visit back were almost as bad as those for the other guy you love to hate – but I wonder if they were deserving.
The enduring image I’m going to have of Damon is of him sitting at his locker in the SkyDome – go in the media entrance, turn left, there he was – almost in tears after the Raptors lost any of the dozen close games they were in during his rookie year.
The team was crap, no doubt about it, but Damon played hard every night, Brendan coached his brains out every night and losing bothered those guys more than it bothered anyone else.
Yes, it didn’t end well with Damon asking for a trade but let’s examine why:
His benefactor, Isiah, had left about three months earlier after he couldn’t pull of a deal to buy the team.
Stoudamire’s last season began with a loss, two wins and then 17 straight defeats – the most gruesome stretch of basketball the team has ever played.
There were no plans for any Air Canada Centre, there was no partnership with the pucks, there were absolutely no clearly-defined plans and who knew if the franchise would even survive.
And he wanted out? Who could blame him.
Anyway, maybe it’s time for bygones to be bygones; maybe it’s time to salute the first “best player” in franchise history for the good things he brought, and the good memories that exist.
I say stand and cheer whenever they get around to the split-second video “tribute.”
Oh yeah, want to chat?
It’s been a while but I figure we still remember how to do those game-day Question and Answer sessions, right?
So we’ll be here at noon for an hour to go over things.
You know, usually with an hour to tip-off I can be found either lounging in the media room busting people and things while having dinner with others; or sitting mindlessly at the computer trying to steel myself for another night of in-game blogging thingy.
Tonight? Tonight I might have to be semi-alert, at least for a second. An hour to tip-off is when coaches have to declare the inactive players for that night’s game and for the first time, Jay has decisions to make.
He’s got all 14 guys healthy and ready to roll (we thought he’d be in the same predicament last week but Hedo had an emergency pop up between shootaround and game time) and he’s got to decide who wears a suit, as he said Tuesday:
"It makes before the games tough. Who to play? Who not to play? Who is going to be in rotations and who is not? A lot of that will be dependent upon who we play. I'm just happy for our guys that everyone is finally starting to get healthy and knock on wood, we'll continue to play the way we were.”
My guess: Patrick and Marcus get the night off.
Of course, there’s always a chance Bryan makes some deal this afternoon and the departing Raptor isn’t around.
Speaking of the Grizzlies, they played Tuesday night, they lost Tuesday night and here’s how the local paper paid attention to the game.
I have no reason to really think this might be true but I do know that it’s running through the minds of a couple of Big Shot Raptors Types.
With the serious interest shown in Amar’e Stoudemire by the Miami Heat, is there at least a chance the Heat are reading long-distance team leaves and may be having second thoughts about the certainty that Chris Bosh will be in South Beach next fall?
Probably not; it’s probably just a case of the Heat trying to stay afloat in the East right now but I guess it’s something some people may be thinking about.
Okay, time to douse trade stuff one more time with, I hope, a bit of reality.
It’s all well and good for the suggestions to come flowing in that the Raptors should trade Patrick O’Bryant or Marcus Banks or Rasho; it’s entirely ridiculous to think they could trade any of the last three guys on the roster for someone who’s going to be better than the first nine guys who play here.
It makes no sense. Two of those guys (Patrick and Rasho) have cheap contracts that expire this year; to deal them even for the same kind of end-of-the-bench emergency status guy makes no sense. Maybe there’s a team out there willing to take Banks for this year and next at his salary but to think he could be turned into a rotation player in Toronto is folly.
All right, having not covered a Raptors game in a week, time to go remember what the rhythm of a game-day is. As I recall, it goes blog, shootaround, question-and-answer, lunch, pre-game, dinner, in-game, post-game, cocktail.