Mail's in before the fun commences
All right, let’s get this out of the way while you’re sleeping so I can get to the stuff from the worlds. Going to be a busy week with games every day so we’ll do this as an added bonus and sill do the normal stuff.
Q: I know you hate to speculate, but: What if the USA doesn't win the World Championships and thus is deprived of the automatic qualifier for the Olympics AND as expected on July 1, 2011, the NBA locks out the players? Obviously, the ex-Redeem Teamers CAN play if they want to, but will there be insurance for them to play in the Olympic qualifier which I assume is next August? Will they actually be allowed to play? Will we see a return of the elite NCAA players? Clearly not a single question, but I would appreciate your thoughts.
Jay S, Thornhill
A: If that case presents itself, and it very well could, I don’t think you’ll see a single NBA player on the American team next year; you’ll see D Leaguers and guys from Europe and collegians who won’t yet be drafted. That’s exactly what we saw at the 1998 worlds in Athens, also during a lockout, when the Americans finished third.
Q: Is the rift between Cox and Griffin personal? Or is it a professional rift where at the end of the day they'll go sit around at a bar and watch whatever sport is on during that time of year and enjoy a beer together? I know it's not basketball related and i know it's probably not 'mailbag' worthy but your thoughts would be appreciated.
Justin S, Sudbury
P.S. I'm just worried that the workplace may become too toxic for you and that you will leave and not provide the blog i read every day. Thanks
A: I don’t think it’s personal at all. And I don’t think it’s going to have any lasting impact on whatever relationship they may have.
We’re all grown men in this gig – or a least we’re supposed to be – and taking the good with the bad is what we do. Or are supposed to do.
Q: Thanks Doug for your persistent blogging of Raps news and for just giving us fans a good read DAILY. Maybe you could convince Mr. Griffin to frequent his blog more often too. Anyway I was wondering why the NBA season opens during winter? The NHL opens in winter since hockey is traditionally played in winter on ice. Same goes for baseball. Usually played on a nice grass field, season opens in spring. Is this just a money thing, or is there a reason why NBA basketball and NFL football is played during winter? Is this maybe because people need something good to watch other than hockey during winter? Just wondering because winter weather in Toronto is mentioned as one of the reasons why it is difficult for us to lure players to our team
Kentaro H, Toronto
A: The easiest answer I have for you is that my good friend Dr. Naismith invented the game as a way to keep guys in shape for the summer and it’s always been played in the winter.
Q: Hey Doug. Some of your faithful readers are not cranky. Any thoughts after having watched Klieza vs USA? He reminded me of a more team oriented version of Delfino, but a more natural fit on the wing. Also, will Barbosa mostly play SG if the two PGs are kept?
Matt B, Ottawa
A: I didn’t see enough of the Lithuania game to really form much of an opinion but I’ll get a really good look at him on the weekend when I see Lithuania in Turkey.
Barbosa? Every indication I get from anyone I talk to is that the see him primarily as a two-guard.
Q: Hi Doug! Happy Travels! I agree with your assessment of Jose - but I have to ask, are you not the least bit suspicious around the Spanish team's diagnosis of his injury?
Given the Spanish teams medical team history with us - you know what I mean - I don't lend much credence to their "4 week" assessment. The injury is not the end of the world - but given the repeated nature of this injury, my bet is that the Raps medical staff brings him back a lot more slowly than the "he tore a muscle but he should be all good in a month" diagnosis that the Spanish (please don't make us liable on insurance) medical team ... :-)
Be interested in your 2 cents on the topic - as I am sure you can tell, I am still not over the Garbo debacle!
Vic A, Toronto
A: I know there were issues of health in the past involving the Raptors and Spanish officials but that went the other way: Spain cleared Garbo to play and the Raptors fought it. I don’t know that there’s a connection to this one and will only point out that Toronto’s medical staff is, um, quite careful when it comes to clearing injured players to return. And given that not only will Jose likely be ready for camp but that there’s a month between then and the start of the season, I don’t see any reason anyone would rush anything more than they should.
And having seen Garbo play a handful of times at the Olympics in person and dozens of times on television as well, I tend to side with the Spanish in his situation.
Q: Hello Doug. Hope you are having a fine trip with easily connected flights, airports with short and speedy lineups, dependable wireless, delightful coffee and friendly staff (although watch the security types at the Frankfurt airport who are seemingly without humour and display impressive weaponry). And further to your request for something to read I offer this. But, as an aside, granted the Vanity Fair Fashion Issue alone can't possibly amuse one for the entire duration of your travel day(s?), if you were to combine it with the Vogue September Issue (available now!!!) and the Elle Fall Fashion Preview issue you would have an additional 1,000 pages of fabulous fashion to enjoy! Well, maybe not really your thing. So, this past week Toronto has played host to another grand meeting of international minds (if not celebrities) at the World Hockey Summit. But, Doug, what of basketball? Has there ever been this kind of a meeting to discuss the State of Global Hoops??? Think there should be? What are the international issues you would like to see identified and discussed? What associations/groups should be in attendance? And, if as President of the PBWA you were (rightfully!) asked to attend, what matters related to the people you represent would you like to have addressed? (And what city would you like to see host it?)
Lorie P, London
A: I’m not sure there have has been one but forget the usual suspects like the heads of the NBA and FIBA and even the NCAA. What I’d like to see is a global get-together of the heads of the national organizations of maybe 25 countries so they can share in the ways they develop the game and their coaches and how the club system allows them to develop the consistency of instruction that allows players to be their best.
Me? I’d cover it, for sure. And if the were to hold in it, say, Madrid, I’d be all for that. Or Rome. Or Treviso so I can visit Venice.
Q: Hi Doug. With quite a few teams introducing new uniforms for the 2010/11 season, are you able to provide any insight into the process? Do they go with creative agencies? Or is it the team marketing department? Are there companies that specialize in team uniform design? And does the league office have any say or final approval? Thanks.
Doug A, Toronto
A: The league office does indeed have final say and has to approve any re-design of any uniform, even down to such minor matters as putting a Maple Leaf on the Raptors jerseys.
There are various “design” companies out there that do these sorts of things after market research and focus groups and the like but when it comes down to it, a team will decide what it wants and try to get the OK from New York.
Q: Hi Doug. Ignore the NBA centre question the other day, I didn't realize the bobcats sign Kwame Brown who passes for a starting centre. I guess he is better than anyone the Raptors can put on the floor when Bargs picks up foul#3...
I am reading today the the Nuggets might be cleaning house and parting ways with Melo. Do you think the new owner/old owner's son will be trying to retool for a push into the playoffs or waving the white flag looking to reduce payroll? I invite you to preempt the avalanche of "can the Raptors get Melo, Billups, Nene, the Denver mascot" emails with a dose of reality... Do you think it will be a fire sale where the Raptor's cap space and draft picks are valuable?
Rob N, London
A: I think there are all kinds of issues at play in Denver, from an ownership change to a new GM to a team that really seems to have reached its potential and is going nowhere but down.
But, no, the Raptors have nothing at all that would even remotely interest the Nuggets in any kind of substantial trade.
And you have to remember, the Raptors are also “re-tooling” or “rebuilding” and are not looking for quick, one- or two-season fixes to get them over some hump.
Q: W ith the huge Asian population (Chinese in particular) in Toronto, you would think that the Raptors would have taken a good look at Jeremy Lin, who signed with the Warriors. We could use a cheap point guard, right? I think they missed out on a good marketing op here. What have you heard about this kid, Doug
K W, Markham
A: They did take a good look at Jeremy Lin in a free-agent camp here. But, frankly, to pander to fans with some kind of tokenism does nothing for me and Lin, while a pretty good summer league player with a chance to do something in Golden State, wasn’t going to crack a team in Toronto that has two proven NBA point guards on the roster with guaranteed deals and Marcus Banks as an emergency third.
Besides, I ask you to recall the Mengke Bateer era as one that proved signing someone who might appease or attract fans of a specific nationality was an abysmal failure.
Q: Supergrunt: Do you think the Raptors will have any interest in Dampier? Could they use the trade exception for this? Is September 13th a significant date for trades for all teams or is it based on when the Bobcats acquired Dampier?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: I don’t think the Raptors have – or should have – any interest whatsoever in Dampier. Why waste a valuable commodity like a huge trade exception on a guy who might be here one year and won’t make any real discernible difference in the long term and could very well hinder the development of the likes of Ed Davis or Amir Johnson? Makes no sense to me.
Q: I was just wondering have you ever written a article you wish you had never written??....not because you weren't proud of it but due to the fact it was just a poorly researched piece that caused a lot of angst to innocent parties...I am referring to the article this week in which Cox who if given his druthers would I am sure rather take back that Bautista article as it in my eyes damaged his reputaion as it was jusy amateurish, same a few years ago when Simmons had "sources" that said Sundin's hip was shot, and it was all hogwash, and then awhile ago Feschuk will have to go awhile to put to rest the Bosh and him being a "deadbeat dad", all wrong...so have you ever went down that road and then thought why??
Doug B, Toronto
A: You know, I’m sure I have but I don’t recall at the moment a specific example. But I know there’s one out there and I’m sure some Irregular might recall it and point it out.
The thing with issues like the ones you bring up is that when they’re written, they’re written after – I’d hope – much research and fact-checking or the development of honestly-held opinions.
Q: Hey Doug. I must say I enjoyed the little 'thrust and parry' between two of your fellow co workers this week. Now I realize a big part of journalism is asking hard questions; but can you talk about how a journalist can ask those hard questions without crossing a line and making accusations?
Love the work as always Doug!
Steve T, Ajax
A: By being respectful of the person you’re talking to, by not being entirely confrontational right off the bad and comporting yourself in a professional manner. It’s quite easy and will, in most cases, earn the respect of the people you’re questioning. Sometimes, I think people in our business try to engage in discussion and make points rather than elicit information.
Q: Doug, I hope you get to try some authentic Turkish cuisine, and report on it. Something exotic, opposite of the traditional hamburger/poutine stuff we eat here in Canada. Anyway, my question is, I'm thinking it would have been nice to have Sammy Dalembert on the team. I know he clashed with Coach Rautins, but I think the measure of any good coach is to work with what you have, to sort of mitigate the egos you have on the team and meld them into an efficient unit on the court. Without a true big I think Canada is behind the eight ball at the Worlds, and if they crash out early, the buck stops with the Coach.
Frank K, Orillia
A: I think we can’t lose sight of the fact that Canada actually has a starting NBA centre on its team in Joel Anthony.
And while it might have been nice to have Sam Dalembert on this team I think for the growth of the program, it’s far, far, far more important that Robert Sacre is here.
And not to worry about the eating, I’ve had all kinds of recommendations from Irregulars and will undoubtedly check them out.
Q: Hey Doug, congrats Masai. Quick question, was Masai the one who really wanted Alabi? Now that Masai is gone, how is this going to effect Alabi's development? Also, heard Bill Walton is working with Roy Hibbert. With Ewing working with D Howard, and Kareem working with Bynum, have the Raptors ever hired accomplished big men to coach our bigs like Bargnani? Maybe Hakeem or Sabonis will like to come?
Nelson H, Toronto
A: Masai may have had history with Alabi but that’s certainly not the reason they drafted him and I don’t think Masai’s departure will have anything to do with what Solomon eventually becomes, or doesn’t become.
The issue of a “true big man coach” is, to me, laughable. Sure, Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon and Kareem have big names and big pasts and lot of accomplishments. But when it gets down to teaching and working and improving kids, it doesn’t matter what you’re name is. I’d think in some respects it’s easier for a guy like Scott Roth or Alex English or PJ Carlesimo to teach because they would never get frustrated or try to make a player into their own image.
And I need to ask this as I always have: If Patrick Ewing is such a brilliant “big man coach” why in the world is Dwight Howard not developed even an eight-foot jump shot or a some unstoppable post move that doesn’t include grabbing a rebound and dunking?
Q: Doug. I've always appreciated your tempered responses around the apparent highs and lows for Raptors fans. Having said that, I was shocked and disappointed at the refuse being printed by the Star. Damien Cox's article inferring Jose Bautista appears to avoid being libel only by asking questions rather than making statements. On this note, I have 2 questions:
First: Is there no regulation of the print process at the Star to stop this Marty-York like article from hitting the news, or does the controversy it creates make it worthwhile?
Second: What (if any) responsibility do you think Toronto media has to portray a positive image of our athletes? Our media seems to be fairly brutal, and I could imagine players not wanting to put up with this garbage when free-agency became available.
John U, Toronto
A: I didn’t wade into the whole Griffin-Cox thing mostly because they’re both friends. And I do think Griff’s rather tongue-in-cheek response was fitting. That said, much of what’s written in our blogs does go unchecked because they are supposed to be unfettered opinion, regardless of what the majority of people think about it. As long as they don’t slide into libel or slander, they are opinions and, as such, aren’t censored.
Now, I don’t think the media has any “responsibility” to portray a positive image of the athletes we cover, our responsibility is to portray the truth accurately.
And if the players can’t handle being portrayed honestly, well, that’s too bad.
Q: Hi Doug. Your recent concert experience and the inevitable odour of party smoke wafting through the audience reminded me of an Oakley quote (if I recall correctly). It was something about 60-70% of players in the NBA are smoking weed and that he could smell it on them when he was playing. Considering your close proximity to players before and after games and practices, have your olfactory senses ever tipped you off? For example, were you surprised about Damon Stoudamire's trouble with the law.
Richard F, Victoria
A: I have no doubt whatsoever that many athletes I’ve covered have used illegal substances, just like I’d be virtually certain that any industry that employs almost 450 young, rich-beyond-your-wildest imagination wouldn’t have a similarly high percentage. Maybe not as high, and maybe with more dangerous drugs, but high, nonetheless.
That said, no player I’ve ever dealt with up close has shown, or given off olfactory suggestions, of that use when I’ve been around them.
Q: Random question that doesn't have to do with the Raps or the Worlds...I've been watching some tapes where Pistol Pete teaches dexterity drills, and they are really impressive. I never have heard his name being mentioned as a top 10 player of all time. Where would you rank him? Top 25-50?
By the way, GOOOO USA!!!!!
Eric M, Toronto
A: Pistol Pete Maravich was a joy to watch and a true magician with the ball. But his career wasn’t long enough or successful enough for me to put him in the Top 50 players all-time. But it’d be awful close and I’d have him in the next 50 probably.
Q: At what point do you prepare a pre-seasonal prediction column, so we can get your take on what you think will be the outcome of teams this upcoming season? And also at the end of last season, did you have the Lakers winning the championship against Boston in the finals?
Mario A, Toronto
A: Pre-season predictions? Hmm. Let’s see. Regular season starts on Oct. 26, right? How about Oct. 24. Maybe 25. And I can’t remember what I picked but I’m pretty sure it was wrong and I would suspect more than a few irregulars will point out just how wrong I might have been.
Q: Hey Doug. Is there any chance there is going to be a Doug Smith app. for iphones? My work place blocks all blogs! S.O.S._
Andy F, Aberdeen, Scotland
Right. I’ll get our chipheads right on that and when they finish rolling around the floor laughing, I’m sure they’ll say: “Hey, Smith, you’re too darn omnipresent anyway.”
Oh, and if costs something to do it, they’ll laugh even harder.
Q: Hi Doug. Since you need mail material and there's a lot of talk of Sonny and Demar right now....
Last year, I remember you being doubtful as to both Sonny and Demar being on the same team - their skillsets are pretty redundant. Was that strictly your opinion, or one shared by BC and the Raptors?
And if so, why the change? I remember a lot of talk about the two of them being very close and possibly having to "split up" sometime soon due to the redundancy. Are we simply being force fed the whole Young Gunz theme for this year? Do you think they would both be on the team if it was more "complete"?
Mo M, Mississauga
A: I think it was an opinion shared by some but not all but was offered as my own. And I still say one of them has to do something, anything, differently and better from the other so that they can co-exist for a very long time. For instance, as it is right now, neither of them can make a three-pointer to save their soul so if you put them on the court together, teams will play off them both, cutting down on drive possibilities and negating any offensive edge they might have with their athleticism.
I can see them being starter-backup but not on the floor much at the same time, they are too similar.