The start of the weekend mail
Have fun and if there’s something else on your mind, click here and let me know. I’ll be the guy on a stool somewhere about 3 p.m. watching US-Lithuania.
Thanks. We’ll be back with the rest Sunday.
Q: Hi again Doug. I'm wondering what your opinion is on Cannabis in regards to the NBA?
If it was legal in Canada/U.S. and Pro Sports teams allowed the personal recreational use of it for the health of their players considering all the healthy and safe benefits it has, wouldn't it be better to encourage it's responsible use instead alcohol?
Why ban an herb that has no recorded fatality ever, and instead drive players to consume booze, which has thousands of deaths linked to the use of it, instigates aggressive behavior which can lead to domestic violence (see Stephenson, Lance) and negatively alters several key functions in the human body, along with it being naturally poisonous to humans too?
Just an honest question from an honest fan. Thanks again for the great work.
Sky D, Killaoe
A: I’m not entirely sure I need to get into my views on the decriminalization or legalization of cannabis but as long as it remains illegal, I think there have to be rules against its use by professional athletes. And at no time, ever, do I think teams should “encourage” any of their athletes to use alcohol or drugs. Shouldn’t happen. And, this day and age, it doesn’t.
Q: Hey Doug, I know the NBA has had several issues with recreational drugs but I can't recall any NBA players getting nailed for performance enhancing drugs (PED). What's the NBA's policy on PED and steroids? Have any players been caught, and what type of repercussions are there?
Jeff F, Toronto
A: There is a huge list of banned PEDs, including such regulars as androstenedione, ephedrine, clenbuterol and a host of diuretics. There have been about five or six suspensions, actually, the most notable and recent being Rashard Lewis of Orlando, who tested positive for elevated testosterone levels and was given a 10-game suspension.
Now, they don’t do out-of-season random testing but they do test during the season.
Q: Hi Doug. I got a hypothetical digression that you might have some fun with. If you were the head coach and the Raptors season started tomorrow with today’s roster, who do you start? Who do you put in with a minute left in the game? and what are your goals for the season - wins, development, team system, playoffs?
Thanks a lot.
Andrew G, Toronto
A: Today? I’d start Calderon, DeRozan, Kleiza, Bargnani and Johnson and I’d finish with them, too, barring injury or foul trouble that would necessitate offence-defence substitutio. And if Johnson proves to be a poor free throw shooter again – and depending on matchups as it always does – I can see using Calderon, Barbosa or Jack with DeRozan, Weems, Kleiza and Bargnani.
My goals? It sounds trite but they would be to win as many games as possible, to play hard every single possession and to see individual skills improvement in every player as the year goes on.
Q: Hey Doug, really enjoy the insights and the straight-talk you provide on this forum!
We all know the game played at the college, NBA, and international levels are very different, and have their own set of challenges. What things, aside from environmental issues (time difference and the climate), do you think Canada will have to adjust to have a "successful" tournament?
Ange A, Toronto
A: The biggest adjustment is going to be to the officiating, which remains quite inconsistent and spotty, even at the world championship level. Some refs see moving screens as fouls, some see them as part of the game, and it can vary quarter to quarter and ref to ref in the same game. It is the one glaring weakness of international basketball.
And with only five fouls allowed before a player is disqualified, it’s something they have to be mindful of right from the first whistle.
A good friend of mine who has officiated at the absolute highest level of international basketball knows that refs could probably call a foul on every single possession but that would ruin a game. Trouble is, some of the officials Canada will see in Turkey don’t have the same level of common sense and discretion and they can ruin a good game.
Q: Good Day Mr. Smith, I guess this could be considered a fashion/trivia question but, the Dog days are here and when better? Why do they wear T-shirts under jerseys in College ball, but that apparently disappears in the Pros. I know Ed Davis use to wear them in College and even saw him in them during Summer League action. Is it allowed in the NBA? Thanks Again
Kevin M, Toronto
A: I believe they’ve gone the way of those support stockings or leggings that were all in vogue a few years ago. If there’s a legitimate medical reason for wearing them, teams can petition the league for permission but, other than, that, those ugly T-shirts under jerseys have – and should – go the way of short shorts.
Q: Hey Doug. With 20/20 hindsight and given this summer's free agent climate (Amir Johnson at 34 million, Darco at 20 million, Drew Gooden at 32 million), do you think signing Bargnani to a very generous 50 million dollar contract a year before he became a restricted free agent to have been a wise move? Had he become an RFA this year, what do you think he would have fetched on the open market?
Dan B, Toronto
A: As an unrestricted free agent, I have no real idea what Bargnani might have fetched in what turned out to be a hype market but I said the day he signed and contend to this day that the contract was a good one from both sides.
And nothing’s happened in the intervening years to make me change my mind.
Q: Doug, let's say you were the GM of a basketball team and you were building the team from scratch. You get the #1 pick in the draft and you have the following available:
1. Elite PG. 2. Elite Wing Player: SG/SF. 3. Elite Big Man: PF/C
Which position would you draft for and why? Thank you.
Joe D, Mississauga
A: I’d personally probably take a wing because you’d hope an elite player at that position would be able to guard a couple of positions and have the requisite ball-handling skills to be a guy who can create as much offence for others as he does for himself.
Q: Hi Doug, I've followed your blog over the past few years, but this is my first contribution. I'm curious if Brian's willing to retain both Calderon and Jack heading into the 2010/11 season? If so, do you foresee a potential starting backcourt that could include Barbosa along side either Calderon or Jack?
Ariel L, Toronto
I don’t, actually. I see DeRozan as a two and I don’t think Barbosa’s good enough defensively to handle extended minutes at that spot.
It’ll be interesting – if they start the season with both Jack and Calderon on the roster – to see how Jay handles that. I can see a guard rotation of Calderon, Jack, DeRozan and Barbosa, three of who are able to run the point (I’m taking DeMar out of that mix).
Q: Hi, Doug. This is a non-Raptors question, but you might find it interesting. Who will have more of a break-out season this year, Robin or Brook Lopez?
Dave F, Kingston
A: Barring any flare-up of the back issue that plagued him last season – and you never, ever know for sure with backs – I’d say Robin, the one who gets to play with Steve Nash. Without Amare there to run high screen-roll, that job’s going to fall to Lopez and I think he’s got the necessary athletic ability to shine.
That said, I like his brother a lot.
Q: Hey Doug. Any word on the OLG and Basketball related gambling being brought pack to pro-line? I remember reading something about it a while back but haven’t heard much since.
Ryan M, St. Thomas
A: The last word I got from a grand poobah friend in the NBA’s Ivory Tower was that negotiations were continuing with every expectation that NBA games would be on the better card at the start of the season. Nothing I’ve heard since has made me discount that opinion but, as we’ve learned repeatedly, nothing is truly done until it’s done so I guess you just have to wait some more.
Personally, I think anyone who gambles on NBA games – or hockey games or baseball games or football games -- on Pro Line should give the money to some worthy charity because you cannot win with the odds stacked against you. But that’s just me.
Q: Hi Doug. I am heading to New York for the first time this fall and I wondering if you have any suggestions for a local watering hole? Or any other suggestions of must-sees? Maybe to pass some of the slow times you could do a list of your favourite cities to travel to during the season and your top 5 places to go in each city? I know I would find it very interesting! Thanks again for all your hard work!
Sean G, Regina
A: A local? Well, Manhattan seems to be a series of unconnected neighbourhoods, each with its own locals, but if I were you, I’d find my way to McSorley’s, which is on East 7th if memory serves; and you need to stop by Runyon’s, which is on 2nd, a ways up the street, if I recall.
And a Top 5 things to do in each city might be a really good idea to cover off September and early October before we get started.
Remind me then, if you don’t mind.
Q: Doug, I'm wondering what stock to buy for my TD Waterhouse TFSA. I'm looking at COS, TA, TRP and TD on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Any advice you can offer? Finally, with the loss of Bosh, we now have a team without any star power. Do you think this will have major implications on attendance at the Air Canada Centre this year. I would think that not only is this bad for the Raptors attendance, but also for teams they are playing on the road. Who wants to pay to see a team without a star player?
Frank K, Orillia
A: Dude, if I put a card in a machine, hit some buttons and money pops out, I figure I’ve mastered high finance. That’s about the extent of my “stock” advice.
Major implications? No. What I fully expect are bad crowds early in the season, somewhere in the 13,000-15,000 range and if the team plays hard and entertaining basketball and wins its share of home games, I expect we’ll be seeing the 18,800 or so we saw last year with the odd sellout.
Q: Hi Doug. I was reading an article about interesting public encounters with Raptors players. Do you have any stories of that nature or are you always considered the 'reporter' and you'll be taking notes of what they tell you.
Mark L, Scarborough
A: Not really any stories I’d care to share. I have seen the odd player and his family out and about but, frankly, I think they are entitled some semblance of normalcy away from the game and I’ll say hello, maybe chat a bit and then get on with my life as they get along with theirs.
And, frankly, if I knew where players went I wouldn’t write it, it’s not the kind of off-the-court gossip and information I traffic in.