The end of the weekend mail, and some time zone warnings
All right, folks, here’s the end of the weekend stuff.
Now, we’re on Pacific time today with a night flight to Phoenix and then a week of mountain time. I have no clue when I’ll get the daily fare up but it’ll get there sometime.
For now … enjoy this until IGBT about 3:15 East.
Q: Hello... Who would you rather have...Felton (Barbara?) and Crawford, or Calderon and Forbes?
Also, since you are near Seattle, how about a little Hendrix?
Bob E, Kanata
A: Can I have Calderon and Crawford? I’d probably take the more versatile, younger two but could live with both.
I wish I was near Seattle because then I’d go to Seattle, maybe take in the Hendrix museum (perhaps the best thing Paul Allen’s done) before I wandered through the Pike market on my way to the Kells for an hour or two. Back through the market, maybe pick up some trinkets from the artists before a stop at the Elliott Bay Book Store, one of the best I’ve ever been in. Oh yeah, then the Metropolitan Grill for a hunk of red meat while on a stool.
Yeah, I miss Seattle. Like you don’t know.
Q: Hello Doug! You've seen it all. And then some. And Ed Davis' shots do indeed challenge the retinas. So, here's an idea for a list: Top 5 Retina Burning Things You've Been A Witness to while reporting on the NBA - league-wide if you like. And then as an antidote, how about The Top 5 Things Of Beauty You Could Watch Over And Over? Again, league-wide, any team, any era. Just in case the Raptors haven't provided enough fodder! Cheers!
Lorie P, London
A: I try to block out all the ugliness but some things just stay with you:
Shaq shooting free throws
It’s like it hurt him to take – and miss – them.
Shawn Marion jump shots
It’s like it hurts me to watch ‘em kind of flung toward the basket. But they are effective.
Oak leading the fast break
Mostly because I fear for the people sitting in the second row not paying attention.
Any wing isolation play with eight other guys standing around watching.
Yawn. Treble yawn. It’s not what the game is. Nor should it ever be.
It was barely tolerable when he was good and young; now it’s just tiresome.
Things I could watch all day?
Wow. Far easier.
Magic leading the break.
You always wondered whether he’d throw a no-look to Worthy or Cooper trailing or find Kareem down the lane.
Steve Nash throwing a cross-court bounce pass in transition.
It’s like athleticism and mathematics how he finds the smallest of openings.
Ray Allen coming off a screen and taking a three-pointer shot.
When they come to paint the prettiest picture of the game in this era, that might be it.
Kobe with the ball in his hands, team down one, five seconds left.
He may not make the shot but he’s going to take it and I guarantee you the form will be perfect.
Tim Duncan’s bank shot.
They don’t call him The Big Fundamental for nothing. Bet he could retire, sit for 15 years doing nothing and make eight out of 10.
Q: Hey Doug: Over the years, your blog has included several 'serious' moments: the passing of Sarah Burke, MLK Day, Canada Day, to mention a few. Each time, you express your thoughts and feelings (and those of many of your readers, no doubt) so eloquently.
There are many reasons why I am a daily visitor to your blog, but one of the highlights is when these sorts of 'items' appear - I am always deeply moved.
So, to make this a question, we all know that Math was probably your worst subject in school. Was English your best? Or at least your favourite?
Thank you for doing everything that you do for us.
Tim H, Windsor
A: Funny thing? I got far better marks in high school in math than English and was, in fact, asked to perhaps consider a technical elective like drafting or something instead of English.
Not sure if there was a lack of inspiration from rather dour English teachers or a missing challenge or whatever but English and I didn’t get along in school. Math and I weren’t best of friends but we were closer.
Weird how things turnout, no?
Q: Hi, Doug. What are the benefits and costs of the "no layups" policy so far?
Eric H, Broad Cove, NS
A: Since it’s a theory impossible to make work 100 per cent of the time, not really sure you can say anything definite. In theory, the benefit would be not giving up the easiest of baskets (layups) and the cost would be getting drilled by a hot three-point shooting team.
Q: After watching Coach Casey several times in "Raptors Today" I find that he is very engaging with the media. I know you liked Sam's snark and wit, but is Casey the most engaging coach you have seen with the Raptors?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: He is very engaging, personable and intelligent. He’s patient with questions that some may think are out of line or, well, silly, and he’s taken his time to learn who we all are and what we do, which is a very nice thing to do.
Total package? Yeah, he could very well be at the top of the list but each of them were interesting in their own ways.
Q: Hi Doug, Love the blog...it’s a daily read. More than a question, I have a complaint for the tall foreheads there at the star. For the pucks, If you're on the main sports page or the hockey page, there is a tab you can hit on for the overall standings. For us basketball fans, NO tab. You have to go 2 or 3 levels before you find the page that allows you to pull up the NBA standing. Think someone there is capable of adding a tab so standings can be at our fingertips. Thanks Doug.
Scott M, Bradford
A: Boss? You reading this? The Irregulars have spoken; can someone get on this?
Seriously, I’ll send this along to people who might be able to fix it far more capably than I.
Q: Hi Doug. It was sad to hear the passing of Sarah Burke yesterday. As everyone is aware, the family set up a website to help them cover the medical care that she received in the US. My question is, why isn't her insurance, Ski Canada, or the Canadian Olympic Committee covering these costs? Why is that left to her family when she was training to represent Canada in a few years; for an amateur athlete, the more exposure you have, the better you become (in theory anyway)...btw, I did make a contribution. Let me know your thoughts...as always, thanks for the great work!
Nick B, Toronto
A: It’s incomprehensible to me that all so-called amateur athletes aren’t fully insured every time they take part in their sports either by sponsors or national organizations.
And I am sure of this tragedy will come closer look at just that circumstance and I would hope every athlete who represents Canada is today talking to their organizations and sponsors to determine their liability.
Oh, and go here to donate, if you see fit.
Q: Hi Doug. With the condensed schedule, you probably haven't got to see as many non-Raptors games as usually but I have a question about the league in general. Have you noticed that there is a group of vets who are having significantly better years (so far) compared to the previous seasons? People who immediately come to mind are Jefferson, McGrady, Billups, Dalembert, Gortat, and even Jamison in Cleveland looks like he has a little bit more bounce in his step. Are these coincidences or imaginings, steroids, wizardry, prematurities, or something else we can chalk up to the shortened training camp?
Jeremy W, Halifax
A: Not sure I share your assessment of Tracy, he was entirely uninvolved and looked a bit puffy when we saw him in Atlanta earlier in the week but that’s neither here nor there.
I think some vets are simply in better places – either with new teams or new roles – and the older guys who are smart players have a way of handling a compressed season better, I think.
But, as time goes on, we’ll see if there’s any regression to the mean with some guys off to good starts.
Q: Hi Doug. Thanks for the daily blog as always. My question is about the new type of calls we are getting in NBA games this season. In a blog this week you mentioned that you were baffled by a double foul call in a Rap game when the two refs disagreed on whether a defensive or offensive foul should have been called. I have seen this call in a couple more games this season (most recently Clips vs Utah) and they had a jump ball to settle it. Is that a new call in the referees repertoire. Do you also think that the stature of the two refs arguing the call play a role in this scenario? (i.e. if one of them is a vet and the other is a rookie ref, would they always go by the vet's opinion)
Rob H, Victoria
A: Not sure how new it is, it was new to me, though. But seniority wouldn’t come into play when the officials get together to talk over that, or any other call that that two refs have seen different ways.
Q: Hey Doug: I know you've said on a few occasions that you don't feel that NCAA coaches, generally speaking, do a good job of preparing the players for the NBA-style game. I wonder if you could, first, refresh my memory why, and secondly, are there any NCAA coaches who are doing what is necessary - or at least, coming close?
Thanks again for everything - it is truly appreciated!
Tim H, Windsor
A: Mostly it’s because they are more concerned with winning and keeping jobs than they are with skills development and most of them in high-profile programs are only likely to have their best players for a year or two so they have to maximize success in a short period of time. And, the NCAA is a bit complicit because it tightly regulates the amount of practice time, especially early in the year but not allowing teams to practice until after October or November.
But there are some good ones, for sure. Coach K at Duke seems to turn out some players with solid fundamentals, there are lots of good Florida and North Carolina players in the NBA, too.
Q: Was not keeping Alex English on the coaching staff a mistake? With the Raps offense mired in mud, we seem to need a lot more than Johnny Davis' good looks, calm demeanour and dapper suits on the bench.
GP L, Mississauga
A: Don’t think it was that significant a loss, actually; certainly not to call it a “mistake.” Jay put in a lot of the offence as it was last year and, quite frankly, the thing that’s missing from this year’s offence at the moment is Andrea Bargnani and his 23 points a game.
Q: Hi Doug. Is it a slow week for mail? I loved how you dropped a "mail please" link right after a provocative statement on philosophies of winning and success! Do you think we are so easily manipulated? That you can toss a smartie on the table at a fat kid dinner party and no one will catch on to your tricks? I keed.
Unfortunately, I can't help myself. The smartie calls me. I would without a doubt take a championship or two and 5 elite years over 10 contending ones. Winning is everything. And once you're a winner, "rebuilding" (which is all too common these days anyway) is much easier.
You basically stated that for the last five years you'd rather have owned the Hawks than the Celtics! Too each his own.
So, now I ask. Should they blow it up in Boston? Does Pierce have a market and if so where? (I can't think of a top ten team that wouldn't be downgrading their SF to get him, except for maybe the Spurs or Lakers, which would never happen.)
Thanks as always!
David W, Toronto
A: I’m not sure “blow it up” is the right phrase because I really don’t know what means? Should they actively look to trade everyone for nothing? No. Should they listen if teams call and enquire about the likes of Pierce, Allen or Garnett or even Rondo? Of course.
But I don’t know that they should initiate too many calls, I still think that team might have some juice in it when the playoffs roll around.
Q: Hi Doug, your musings on the Celtics has me wondering this... what is the economic value of an NBA Championship and a deep NBA playoff run? Has anyone ever done an analysis on this? I wonder how long the glow of a past championship affects a team’s economics in future years in ticket sales, merchandise sales and perhaps even in consideration from refs. Might be interesting to explore this.
David W, Oakville
A: If there’ve been specific studies done, I’m not familiar with them and they sound like pretty dry reading anyway (keed, keed). But I’d say the economic value to the franchise is minimal because merchandise sales are shared and seeing how there’s a champion every year …
I imagine the cities in the Finals benefit from more spending on hotels, restaurants, bars, etc., but I think that might be over-rated as well.
Q: Good day Doug, I'm looking for a compare/contrast of LeBron James and Blake Griffin. I would post my opinion but I don't think that is what people want to read. I appreciate your work, thank you. P.S. not just what they do now, but what they can do in the next 3 threes as well.
Robert M, Charlottetown
A: None, no comparison at all. Widely different skill sets, huge disparity in age and experience, truly apples and oranges and likely will be for the entirety of their careers.
Q: Hi Doug. I don't know if you had an opportunity to watch the documentary produced by Raptors TV called, "Behind the Draft". I thought it was well done and gave a glimpse at all of the wheeling and dealing that goes on in drafting and/or trading a player. That brings me to my question. Have you ever had a chance to be in the "war room" when team was drafting or at the trade deadline? If so, what was the experience like?
Joe D, Mississauga
A: I’ve seen snippets but not sure I’ve seen the entire show this season; I have in the past and when they eventually get broadcast, they’re pretty good.
And I haven’t asked for, or been offered, that kind of access. It might be fun but I don’t know that I could live with the limits that would be imposed on what was on and off the record. There are, I know, a lot of blunt conversations about players, picks, etc., that don’t make it air, would never make it to print and I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with that.
Q: Let's assume the Raptors address the need for a competent SF in the draft. Given the current roster, how good an SF is needed to make the Raptors into a playoff team? Do we only need the guy to be second coming of Andre Iguodala, or do we need the second coming of Kobe Bryant? Put another way, if you could get a clone of any NBA SF in NBA history, who do you think would fit best with the current roster to make it jell into a contender?
Tony B, Baraboo
A: Not sure you can quantify “how good an SF is needed” except to say an improvement is necessary. You need someone who can guard and someone who can make a shot and if you could get the second coming of Kobe (who’s probably more a shooting guard) you’d be good.
In history? I think that Larry Bird fellow who had those years in Boston might look pretty good, no?
Q: Hey Doug. Was just wondering what you thought about the Andrew Wiggins hype. Could he remain the number 1 recruit in his class? And if he does, what college do you think would best suit him.
All the best,
Alex B, Toronto
A: Guess there’s some hype but I don’t know the young man. I know he’s a skilled teenager with great potential and I wish him nothing but the best. And I can’t even guess what college would best suit him.