Bet you can't wait to see what happens tonight
Join Doug Smith at noon Friday for a live basketball Q&A, as the Raptors get ready to take on the Denver Nuggets.
What do you think they’ll do tonight? Show up? Compete? Play hard?
It’s like Forrest’s box of chocolates, isn’t it? You never know.
Guess that’s kind of fun, although you’d like more of the fight they showed in the Atlanta game not too long ago to surface and you’d like fewer of those utter capitulations like they put up against Oklahoma City and Utah.
The trouble is, no one can really come up with the one answer to the one question that’s on everyone’s list:
There are theories, of course, and the one that I keep wondering about is if this group really gets along. And by that I mean do they trust each other on the court to make the right play or do the right thing or be there to get a teammates’ back.
The off-the-court chemistry is so over-rated, it’s not funny. A couple of wins and everyone’s happy, a couple of losses and everyone’s surly and it’s been that way for eons.
Here’s how one insider put it to me Thursday:
“It doesn’t matter if they like each other. Do you like everyone you work with? Do you think Ron Artest and Pau Gasol go out for dinner? How about Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut, you think they hang out? Just play.”
And that’s the one thing they haven’t done nearly enough. Just play.
The confounding thing to all concerned over there is that they’ve shown the ability to play a fair amount. Times are horrid right now, no question; but there have been moments of good that make the moments of horrid even more confusing.
I don’t think anyone has a simple solution. It’s not just coaching, it’s not just mental toughness, it’s not just physical fitness, it’s not just Inside Basketball stuff like rotations and help-side defence.
As Bryan put it in Dave’s column today, it’s like they’ve emotionally shut down for a few weeks.
Everyone’s talking a good game about having to fight and laying it all on the line and it’s time to think team rather than individual.
But as we all know, talk is cheap.
I’m tired of hearing it, you’re tired of hearing it and I presume they’re tried of saying it.
Boy, those Chicago Bulls sure showed some fight Thursday night, didn’t they? Edged by 29 by the Heat, gutsy home performance, indeed.
That was down right Raptoresque.
Makes the turtle race for No. 8 far more compelling, doesn’t it?
If Turk can’t go Friday – and he didn’t practice Thursday so I’m presuming he won’t if tradition holds – it has to be Sonny Weems that starts in that spot.
Not only did Jay use Weems when Turk couldn’t go on Wednesday, it sticks with the coach’s mantra of letting guys get some run in against their former teams.
And, yes, he may have spend the majority of his season in Denver on the inactive list, but Sonny was indeed a Nugget.
Not a guy who wistfully recalls the glory days, though.
I asked him Thursday if he had any special affinity for George Karl, trying to sniff out some heartfelt concern for an old coach and got a somewhat underwhelming response:
“No, not really. We said our hi’s and bye’s, that’s about it.”
A whole bunch was made here Thursday about Jay’s post-game comment Wednesday about being okay with his team’s effort against the Jazz.
Talk about much ado about nothing.
Of course he wasn’t happy but the next time he publicly throws his team under the bus will be the first and that’s why you didn’t see any of us who cover the team on a regular basis use the quote or get all worked up about it.
Sure, it would have been better or if he’d said nothing or something like “they were dogs and I wanted to strangle every last one of ‘em for looking like they didn’t care” but that wasn’t going to happen.
You roll your eyes, let him answer and get on with the next question.
You hang around coaches long enough – and, believe me, it’s not just Jay who mouths a cliché every now and then that he really doesn’t believe – and you know how to separate wheat from chaff.
Which is what all of us who were there did with that one.
In Denver, today’s story is this.
Oh, and in Toronto, the masses will assemble at noon to ask some questions and be wildly entertained by the answers.
(Yes, that means we’ll be here at 12 for the usual game-day chinwag).
A Chauncey Billups story:
I don’t remember an awful lot about the half season Chauncey spent here back in 1997-98 (that was the end of the 16-66 season and I’ve tired unsuccessfully to block that entire sordid episode out of my mind) except that he tended to shoot an awful lot.
I guarantee you no one – teammates, coaches, GMs, scouts – saw him as a future NBA Finals MVP and one of the most respected veteran point guards in the game, which is a testament to Chauncey’s test of wills.
What I remember is a young kid on a truly dreadful basketball team playing in a foreign land and not really having a great time in any aspect of his existence.
And one Sunday I walked into the Raptors locker room at the old mausoleum fresh from an appearance that morning on some TV chat show I used to get invited to every now and then.
Chauncey, who’d been living in the Mausoleum Hotel as I recall, wanders over and says something, “hey, I just saw you on TV, good job.”
And I’m thinking, ‘wow, kid. Get a life.”
But it was nice of him to say and it stuck with for a very long time.
In case you missed it on the TV highlights, the rather long season of the Peel District School Board Grade 8 Boys Basketball Season (at least that’s what I call it) came to a close this week with the annual playoff tournament.
(I know, it was like a four-week break between the end of the regular season and the playoffs, which kind of sucks the momentum out of a season but does allow for things like March Break and the second-term report card angst).
Anyway, the Mighty Hawks of Hawthorn were kind of drubbed in their semi by the Dastardly Queenston Cougars (who were like the early-60s Celtics) but they rebounded to knock off the Green Glade Gators to finish third in the four-team loop.
So Super Son’s career ends on a winning note, the reports are everyone had fun, which is the biggest thing, and now it’s time to start thinking Mighty Yankees.
Bet you can’t wait, eh?