Long-distance mail delivery today
I see the Heroes Of The Hardcourt were able to subdue the Nets on Saturday night. Good for them, although I have to admit I really didn’t miss not seeing it. Was a nice break to up here in Ottawa catching up with some old cronies and flying the flag at the CIS finals.
Oh, and doing mail.
Q: Doug, Raps fans know hardships. This sad set of games since all-star break is nothing new, yet they still may have one of the best seasons ever (if my memory serves me correctly, 41-41 would tie them with fifth best, 42 wins fourth.)
Now 5th best in 15 seasons sounds not too bad for a very up and down year. Does Bosh may be leaving thing account for this "they are the worst team ever!"
Are the fans feeling that failure means losing him, or simply silly enough to think that 50 wins was on the table?
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: I don’t know that it was the magic 50 but I did sense far more optimism at the start of this season in a long time.
And then you combine the unmet expectations with the prominent feeling that Bosh is gone and you’ve got angst writ large.
But, like I’ve said from the start, I think if they get to 43 wins – which is a 10-win improvement over last season and that’s got to be one of the best in the league – that’s not bad.
Q: Hi Doug, I am a diehard Raps fan and will be there through think and thin.
Just wondering if, especially considering how interactive your job is, do you find it is easier to do your daily writing when the Raps are winning? It must try your patience.
Jeffrey M, Saint John
A: It’s not easier, per se, but it is different.
Of course, players are much more amenable and quotable when things are going well so it easier in the regard but dealing with the anger of fans – generally directed at the players and coaches and GM and entirely understandable – does make for some long days.
The job’s hard whenever – there is still a morning blog and either off-day stuff to get or the game-day stuff to do – and it’s just hard in a different way when things are going badly.
Q: I was wondering what a general manager does... in general. I'm sure his role varies from team to team. Some owners will be more meddlesome/hands-on than others. That's no different than any organization in any business. But are GMs responsible for only player related decisions? Or all basketball decisions as a whole? Would an owner/board give the GM a budget to work with in terms of acquiring players/coaches/support staff and give them free reign in that regard only? Or does the GM oversee all basketball related matters (tickets sales, in-game entertainment, community relations, merchandise)? To be more Toronto centric, what does BC's title of President and GM differ from simple GMs?
Vincent L, Toronto
A: You’re right, it does vary from team-to-team, I think a general rule would be a GM of a franchise owned by a conglomerate might have more autonomy than someone who works for one man. That said, a GM of a team Toronto needs to present budgets to an ownership group that has to be approved and I’m sure that’s similar across the board.
To be Toronto-centric, Bryan’s got his hands in a lot pies, including foundation work, game-ops, merchandising, etc. although more as a final place for approval rather than an instigator of programs. I’m not sure that’s the same case at franchises where the GM is just the GM and doesn’t have that president’s title.
Q: Hey Doug. Was watching Syracuse and Vermont and saw Syracuse play the 2-3 zone. I noticed that there's no 3 second defensive violation. Just wondering about your opinion on this rule. I personally think it's a nice rule that opens up the offense and its absence diminishes my appreciation of college ball.
Damian C, Toronto
A: I think it’s a great rule, if you’re going to allow zone defences. No way I want to see Shaq or Dwight Howard or Yao or any centre camped under the basket. There has to be space to let people get to the rim and it forces coaches to devise offences that make defences move their bigs around.
I couldn’t watch a zone with a big camped under the boards forever without gouging out my eyes.
Q: Hey Doug. Would you like to see more opportunities for video replay in a game? What about if each coach got something like two challenges a game?
David S, Toronto
A: No, no, no. A thousand times now. These games are interminable now; there is almost too much instant replay as it is, adding more would not be something I could support.
Unless, that is, they charged whichever team asked for a replay with a timeout, regardless of how the appeal turned out. There are too many timeouts now, if that’s a way to get them used earlier in games than the last 20 seconds, I might be okay with that.
Q: Slow day but please clarify the draft situation. If they finish 8th do they still have a first round pick? At least some hope for a fresh face or next victim (you decide).
And the best to Jay and his family. Old age sucks.
John P, Fredericton
A: No. If they make the playoffs, their draft pick goes to Miami. Of course, they could trade for one but that’s speculation for another day.
Q: Hi Doug, I recently had a scary thought that the first live football (soccer) game I ever went to was nearly 20 years ago! As you are slightly older than me (I'm 27) can you remember the first NBA basketball game you went to? Or perhaps your first sporting experience was baseball?
Chris D, Leeds, England
A: Slightly? Thanks for that.
I honestly don’t remember the first pro basketball game I saw, but I know it was a Braves game at the old Aud in Buffalo, probably sitting way up in that crazy steep seats in the upper deck.
First sporting experience? It strikes me as a pucks game in the Gardens, Dear Old Dad would get company tickets once a year, one row right behind the Leaves bench and we’d get all spiffied up, drive up, have dinner in the Hot Stove Lounge and then watch the game.
I remember being fascinated with Eddie Shack, and him turning to Punch Imlach on game and telling him, “George, put me out there, put me out there.”
Q: Hi Doug, Has Jay "lost the locker room" with these guys? SMitch used to drive me nuts for many reasons, but one thing you knew is that he got effort from players for most of his tenure, certainly in the first few seasons. The sheer scope of Raptor capitulation some nights is scary. Thanks.
Andrew J, London, England
A: I don’t think he’s “lost” the locker room at all. I don’t think there are nights when they don’t seem to give optimum effort because they don’t like the coach, those nights come because they don’t have a consistent work ethic and that’s something they have to get from within.
Q: Hi Doug, great work as always! However, a comment about a post of yours about Patrick O’Bryant. You wrote: Good guy, Patrick is. It’s got to be a hard gig… and how he is professional as well as Banks and Rasho. Last time I checked O’Bryant is making 855K, Banks 4.5m and Rasho 1.9m. For that kind of money one should expect professionalism. You and I get up early each morning and go to work and perform to best of our abilities regardless of the circumstances. So sorry if I don’t feel too bad for Patrick & co. I would trade with them in a heartbeat.
A question - I rarely get a chance to see the raptors play on TV. As someone who plays basketball (albeit poorly) with some buddies once a week I find it interesting that you and others often write about lack of effort on the part of the team. In my case it is most of my game - but why do you think players can’t come up with a consistent effort on a nightly basis and who among the Raptors does this worst and best in your opinion?
Dave W, Trier, Germany
A: As old Sam used to say: If I knew that, I’d be a billionaire and not doing this gig. Really, it’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma, as they say.
But I often look at it this way: Do you, or do I, have great days at work every day? I know I don’t. And while I may think I’m trying my best, at the end of the day I know I could have been better. I think it’s probably the same with them.
As for best and worst? I don’t think anyone can criticize the effort Amir Johnson brings every night so I guess he’d be the former; and the latter? Well, I think we’ve seen so much up and down from Andrea he would get my vote. Hedo’d be a close second.
Q: Hi Doug. Your criticism of NCAA college basketball rings so true with me as well and a question I have always wondered.
Why is the screen and roll, or in particular the high screen and roll, such a staple in the pro game and used so little in the NCAA game? It seems to me four guys swing the ball around the outside, maybe throw it into the post to the one guy playing down low, who more often than not passes back to one of the outside guys for a jump shot or occasionally a drive to the basket.
Mike D, Cambridge
A: Another mystery impossible to unravel.
Could it be because the coaches are too busy recruiting and doing clinics and polishing their media skills to coach? Maybe not.
Maybe it’s because the ball-handling skills are often so suspect it’s too hard to run efficiently?
Q: Doug, my question is regarding the strong Canadian dollar. Now, I know that all salaries are paid in US dollars, so if MLSE has set aside 100M US (any number works, really) for all expenditures, then when the dollar was worth 85 cents American they would have had to pay out over 100M Canadian dollars in order to maintain necessary spending. Now, with the strong Canadian dollar, and given that the BOC expects the Canadian dollar to stay strong, does that mean that MLSE will be more likely to go over the tax to sign another player? I know MLSE is a company first and so profits are the main concern, but if they could spend more money without it ever affecting their profit margins would they do so, or do you think they'd just keep the profits?
Robert H, St. John’s
A: I will preface this by saying the only thing I know about high finance is that I know nothing about high finance.
But I do know Maple Leaf Sports, or any multi-national, billion-dollar company, would know enough to hedge itself against fluctuating exchange rates by “buying dollars” when it makes the most sense.
But I also know that, yes, the board will approve a tax-paying season, regardless of where the dollar is.
Q: Is it just me, or does Antoine Wright have 'Future Coach' written all over him? The man understands what it takes to win, and communicates it more clearly and confidently then most actual coaches in league. Thoughts? Perhaps he's got a little Sam Mitchell in him?
Love your work Doug. Hope the Super Family and you are enjoying the weather!!
Joey H, Toronto
A: Antoine’s just turned 26 years old, I imagine he’s thinking more about his next contract than his next career.
But I do think he’s got some knowledge of the game and, if he wants, I’m sure he’d eventually find himself a coaching gig somewhere based on his knowledge, willingness to ruffle feathers while making a point and his enjoyment of being around the game.
Q: It seems Triano's new Quick Hook philosophy is the same one Sam Mitchell had from the get go of his tenure and he was criticized for hindering Bargnani's development.
I respectfully submit that getting pulled for poor play is a necessary part of player development. Could you assess Triano's development as a coach thus far? Is he still figuring out his philosophy as an NBA head coach?
Dan P, Baltimore
A: I think he’s still a work in progress, figuring out a very difficult job (I can’t imagine managing a collection of egos and personalities with such disparate skills would be easy) and is probably a better coach today than he was on opening night.
I’m not sure he has a “philosophy” fully developed – and that’s a bit of problem. But it’s also something that comes with time.
Q: Hey Doug. I love this idea of bringing a deadly scorer, who could easily be a starter, off of the bench. Has it always been around? Can you think of notable examples before Manu in SA?
David S, Toronto
A: Let’s just say if you go look up Vinny Johnson and John Havlicek you might find a couple who fit your bill. And maybe Bobby Jones in Philly and Ricky Pierce in Milwaukee would be on that list.
I’m sure there are others, and I’m sure others will point them out.
Q: I read the story about the Sports Streaming Network and TSN dispute and I'm confused. Why is it TSN (and other networks) haven't found a way to make money streaming off the internet? I choose not to buy cable TV and internet for financial reasons, so my Raps coverage is limited to online stuff. I would gladly watch TSN's feed (and their commercials) over an illegal, fuzzy and unreliable feed. Surely there is a market for streaming sports. What am I missing?
Darren K, Kitchener
A: I think you’re missing how they ask advertisers to pay extra for something they’re not used to be paying specifically for. I tell you, though, the first person who figures out how newspapers – and I presume TV networks, too – can make money off this web thing will become filthy rich.
Q: Hi Doug.A non-Raptor related question and possibly one you may not want to discuss in this type of medium, but I was interested in getting an insiders thoughts.
Do you believe that Jason Kidd's image and entrance to the Hall of Fame are impacted by his domestic abuse history. I know he was traded and it’s long forgotten in many minds. He is a top quality player, no doubt, but I find him highly repugnant knowing his abusive past. I know his wife has forgiven him and moved on from a horrible chapter in their lives but do you believe that this will have any impact when the time comes for Hall election? I remember some years back SI ran a story about Robert Parish and the years of constant abuse he tolled on his wife which was pretty much ignored by the NBA. Do you get a sense that this sort of thing is still brushed under the carpet?
Jamil B, Sydney, Australia
A: I don’t think it'll impact a Hall of Fame spot, no.
As harsh, and probably as bad, as this sounds, I think Hall of Fame selectors should only look at on-court, or on-field, accomplishments.
That is in no way meant to diminish the disgust for what transpires in a players’ private life but I do think there is – and needs to be – separation of the two.
And I don’t think things are “brushed under the carpet” by any league or franchise. If they know about issues, they try to deal with them as best they can; but, again, there is a level of privacy afforded employees that means some teams don’t know, or won’t know, everything that’s going on away from the workplace.
Q: You've consistently said that Orlando would be the best first-round match-up for the Raptors, but could you get into why that is?
To me, they just have too many weapons seemingly designed to exploit Toronto's weaknesses (perimeter defense and rebounding). And we all know how good a motivated Vince Carter can be. I'd much rather face Boston and try to jump on an aging team.
Mohammed J, Mississauga
A: I’ve also consistently said that I could very well change my mind six or seven times before the season ends and we find out who’s playing well, who’s hurt and stuff like that.
But the Raptors do tend to play Orlando well, they seem to defend Howard all right (not great, but all right) and if you’re playing a team that likes to live by the jump shot, you know it can also die by the jump shot.
But we’ll make the final determination in mid-April, if the Raptors are in the playoffs, that is.
Q: Hey Doug, Basketball 101 question here, is there any difference when they call continuation and "and one"?
Jay B, Toronto
A: Yes. Continuation is, by definition, a play in which a player is making a move to the basket, is fouled and does not dribble again before making a field goal.
And “and-one” as it’s known can come on a stationary jump shot when a player is fouled.