Of chemistry and questions and the role of a leader
Join Doug Smith at at noon Wednesday for a live basketball Q&A, as the Raptors get ready to take on the L.A. Clippers.
Everyone well rested after a day off? Good, because we’re back at it for another game day today and I have a feeling that if things don’t go well against the Clippers tonight, the ugly mood of Monday will look like Mardi Gras in comparison.
Have a nice night.
The issue of “chemistry” with the local heroes has been a subject bandied about with great regularity over the last month or so when a promising season got a little bit off the rails.
People have wondered if there was some divisive locker room issue that was causing problems, whether this guy liked that guy or that guy like that other fellow or whether they were getting along well enough to be a functioning group.
It’s always been my contention that losses lead to finger-pointing too often and that was the problem, nothing more deeply rooted than that, and that a win or two and everything would be sunshine and puppy dogs again instead of storm clouds and pitbulls.
Well, because I wondered if maybe there was some legitimate dislike between some of the players – and I have to admit there were moments where it looked as if they truly disliked each other – I figured I’d ask.
I went to three players whose opinions I truly respect and who have been honest and forthright with me every time I’ve asked them a question about anything.
I’m not going to tell you who they are because I asked them on the condition of anonymity so they wouldn’t worry about having to sugarcoat any answer. But, trust me, I trust them to tell me the truth.
And all of them said it’s not an issue, that they do get along, they do respect each other (and that’s more important than holding hands and singing songs) and there are no underlying issues.
They agree that losses make it hard to feel all sweetness and light but the issues is more of performance than personality. As one of them said:
“It’s like we’ve got a switch and we leave it in the ‘off’ position too much and when it gets hard, we don’t know how to turn it on. If we do, we can be good. Really good. But we have to do it. It’s not coaches, it’s not management, it’s us. We have to know how good we can be and just do it.”
With a weird weekend coming up – Saturday afternoon in Philly’s a rather odd game time before an early Sunday evening game with the Golden State – I’m not sure when we might end up having a Festival Of Mail.
But whenever we do, we’ll need some submissions so I better start the solicitation process.
Click here, send ‘em along and if you’d like to diminish the number of rants, it’d be greatly appreciated.
As perhaps I’ve mentioned, Antoine Wright’s gone way up in my estimation the last little while, not only for his play but for his actions and his willingness to demand things of himself, his teammates and his coaches.
It helps, obviously, that he’s playing well because that always makes the message easier to take and I was asking Jay about “leadership” and whether Wright brings it to a team that needs it.
“He’s a leader because he’s doing what we ask him to do, which is play at the defensive end of the floor.
“Antoine just finds a way to get in front and fight and get through screens and help side and still do what we ask him to do.”
Considering that some of these guys have a hard time consistently doing what’s asked of them – like play hard and well at both ends of the floor every night – Wright does seem to stand alone.
I’ve long thought there was some kind of void in outward leadership on this club, it’s nice to see someone who’s playing well take it on.
In Los Angeles, where you often need a search warrant to find Clippers coverage at this time of the season, they read this in the paper this morning after another loss, this time in Milwaukee.
(Oh, and this is an Eric Smith idea that I heartily endorse and that the powers that be around Raptors land have blown for another year: Tonight should, without a doubt, be one of those throwback games where the Raptors are the Huskies and the Clippers wear old Buffalo Braves jerseys. Maybe, someday, somebody with some foresight in the front office will see the wisdom of our ways and do it.)
Hey, you know we Canadians have a lot of love for Steve Nash, given all he’s done for the country and how remarkably well he’s represented us for years, right?
Well, add another one to the list after last night.
I don’t know how many saw it but his finish last night when Phoenix did the Heroes Of The Hardcourt a big favour by beating the Chicagos was vintage.
A great and-one when he made Brad Miller look like me, a couple of nifty assists and a few clutch free throws and all of a sudden the locals have a two game lead and the tiebreaker over the Bulls with nine to go.
I’m not saying they’re home and cooled out here but it’s not looking all that bad.
They’re grieving in 90210 after the DWTS episode and the Pussycat Dolls favourite is still looking good.
(That’s code for those of you who aren’t Irregulars).
For the life of me – and to keep up what’s been a tradition here of late since I’m tired of talking about how mopey the mopes were getting – I’m having a hard time coming up with any good Clippers-related Raptors yarns.
Outside of the old one – the 152-120 beatdown that was a layup line back in the 16-66 season when Darrick Martin had 20 or something silly like that and it was disgusting all around – there are precious few “moments” involving these two storied franchises.
So maybe all I’ve got is that the old L.A. Sports Arena, where they used to play before moving to Staples, was one of the scariest places in the league
I think it was after that 152-point game that we walked out only to be told that we should wait until an armed guard could walk us the 100 metres or so to our car because the neighbourhood was a tad, um, sketchy.
Oh, and it was smelly, too.
An old colleague who’s gone on to fame and fortune interviewing the likes of Julie Andrews, once tagged it The PeePee Palace for the odour the wafted through the hallways.
Speaking of speaking, we’ll be here at noon to answer questions for an hour if anyone wants to stop by. And I can’t imagine we’ll match the angst- and anger-filled four-figure crowd we got Monday but we’ll still be here.