The start of the weekend mail; and some special guests
Okay folks, I have a little bit left over for tomorrow but, really, we could use some more and since I’ve got this afternoon free in a Chicago hotel room, please help a fella out, would you.
And enjoy the interludes on Canada Music Week; I’ll figure some more out for tomorrow, I hope.
Q: At the Sunday game against the Warriors recently, I left the arena happy that we’d won but worn out by the kiddy-land feel of all the in-between stuff that one doesn’t see on TV. When I got home, I put on the Celtics game that I’d recorded and I couldn’t help being envious of the (seemingly) much more adult way that fans in the TD Garden in Boston are treated. Then, watching the Knicks game from MSG and hearing the organ being played, instead of the tiresome pounding beats that the ACC DJ cues up, I was once again so wishing that whoever runs things at the ACC would give serious consideration to making some basic changes that would make the experience the pleasant and fun basketball-centric experience that (I think) it should be. (I also love the theatre lighting that the Knicks and the Lakers use.) My question: as you are familiar with these other arenas (NY and Boston, mainly) is the atmosphere really more sophisticated, as how it seems to be when watching on TV? And, is there any chance in this lifetime of somebody at the ACC making the adjustments that many, I’m sure, would so love to see? Thanks.
WS G, North York
A: I don’t imagine the adjustments you want – and which I would appreciate more than you can imagine – will be coming at any time soon.
And while there are some more “sedate” arenas where the atmosphere is a bit muted, and I would put New York, the Lakers and Spurs in that crowd, I’d say Toronto is in the top half of noisy, intrusive, “beat-pounding-while-the-game-goes-on” nonsense. But there are others – Cleveland and Dallas come quickly to mind – that are even more over the top.
Q: Hi Doug. Two favours to ask of you, humbly.
Please help settle a debate a friend and I constantly have. Who was the better player: Karl Malone or Chris Mullin? And who had the better career (is there a difference)? A word justifying your choice would be great.
Any comments on the PG position for Spain at the Olympics given Rubio's knee injury? I imagine Jose is going to get a fair amount of play now.
David W, Toronto
A: Malone-Mully? Apples and oranges. Not sure one was “better” than the other and it’s impossible to compare. Neither won a title, both are Hall of Famers, Malone has an MVP to his credit but I preferred watching Run TMC in Golden State to watching the Jazz. But I’m sure if I turned and asked someone else, they’d go the other way.
Jose was always going to get a fair amount of playing time, it will go up with Rubio out but they can slide Juan Carlos Navarro into that slot and perhaps Sergio Llull, too. At least that’s what I’m hearing now.
Best. Canadian. Band. Ever.
Q: Hi Doug. Who is the fellow in the Raptors organization that sits right behind the players bench and looks like he is one of the Sopranos?
Trevor B, Saskatoon
A: I’m not sure you really want to know. These guys need protection, don’t you know.
Q: Hey Doug, I'm re-reading Simmons' Book of Basketball. He talks a bit about talent dilution and opines that "expansion ruins everything". Do you agree? If you were to trim the league to 20 teams today, who gets cut and why?
Kerry O, Waterloo
A: Not sure “ruin” is the right word but there’s absolutely been a dilution of talent and the league would be better off with, say, 24 teams. But as for who gets cut? I can’t really say; I hate it when any city loses a team and I guess you’d look at failing or faltering markets first, right? That’d probably put New Orleans, Memphis, New Jersey and Milwaukee on the list but they’ve all got as a good a chance at revitalization as anything.
Q: Hi Doug. This off season the Raps decide they should package and trade either Amir Johnson or Ed Davis.
Taking age, contract, ability, work ethic etc. into consideration, who would you trade and why? Thanks.
Mike D, Hespeler
A: Oh, boy. One of these. No disrespect but this really isn’t something I do because unless you give me some idea of what you’d realistically get back, it’s silly speculation.
I do think Bryan should throw both names out there this summer and see what kind of nibbles he gets.
As for who gets more? Impossible to tell. Amir’s got experience but a longer, more expensive contract; Ed’s got promise but if you have to take similar size deals back, you’re not going to get much because he doesn’t make much.
Wish I could write stories like this guy could write songs.
Q: Greetings, this missive may be more of a ramble than normal. So for a variety of reasons I have found myself wondering recently just what being a fan, or even a casual fan, mildly interested etc really provides for any particular individual. Certainly following your favourite team(or individual- in golf for example) gives one a platform from which to initiate and receive social interaction from. And, certainly, sports can provide dramatic moments worthy of the time spent following whichever sport one prefers to follow, but it strikes me that there must be other levels at work here. Escapism, an attachment born from the desire to "belong" or perhaps simply a pleasant form of mindless entertainment. I would also expect that the experience is unique to every individual to a degree, albeit certain aspects would remain predictable and consistent.
Personally I find it less appealing to watch my "team" struggle and as a consequence interest wanes as the prospects for winning dim. I am sure some would take great exception to that statement but, for me, especially given my life experience, that which is not attainable today can be tomorrow. When the moment has passed regroup and re-prepare. I would also guess that for me personally I have, for a large number of years, had to be mindful of the perspective from which I view my day and to a degree I find that I feed off the positives that sports can provide and that the negatives will occasionally compound themselves for me to a degree of almost being debilitating.
So to draw a weak analogy, in my own case my involvement in "sports fandom" is kind of like a Snakes and Ladders game. There can be ups and downs in any sports endeavour, yet I insulate myself from the downs as best as I can yet feed off the triumphs. I can find inspiration in a team or individual's triumph over adversity, in a similar fashion to how music can occasionally transcend the moment.
You, Sir Grunt, have the sports experience as your livelihood which I am certain also provides for an unique perspective but I still find myself wondering just how others value the "fan" experience in their own lives?
As always, thanks for what you do.
Doug T, Brantford
Q: I was wondering about your opinion on Derek Fisher, as President of the Players Association, not showing up in Houston after the trade and forcing Houston to buy him out so he could join another team? Personally, I don't think any player should be allowed to act that way and I still dislike Alonzo Morning for refusing to play in Toronto. If a player is under contract, I believe he should be forced to play for the team acquiring him or not be allowed to ever play in the league again.
Dave B, Cornwall
A: He didn’t “force” anyone to do anything, the buyout of the contract – which cost Fisher a guaranteed $3.5 million next season – was by mutual agreement and I have no problem with it at all.
Dad was pretty good at his craft, too.
Q: Doug. I’m a serving member of the military here in Edmonton. I read that money from the sale of the camo unis was going to our support center. How can I purchase a game worn jersey?
Drew L, Edmonton
A: Sorry, but they’re not selling the game-worn jerseys; the Raptors website should be able to point you in the right direction to buy replica jerseys, I’m sure.
Q There must be 20 guys in the D-League who can do what Gary Forbes can, so why does this guy keep getting floor time? If he did 1 thing well (pass, hit 3s, slash, defend), I wouldn't be so cranky. He's certainly hidden his credentials from me. Can you help me understand?
Brian B, Newmarket
A: He’s getting floor time because he deserves it; and you may not be looking closely enough to see his credentials but the guy’s an NBA player. Whether you think so or not is moot; and why go get one of the alleged 20 guys who can do what he does when you have him, anyway?
Q: Hi Doug, Okay, we all know Anthony Carter left the team and returned to Denver. But what's the end of the story? Is he still an "asset"? If he signs on with another team (I see the Spurs may be interested), do the Raps get something in return? Or was he simply bought out, and if so, why? Why not at least try to get something more useful than a handshake and a pat on the back?
David M, Ottawa
A: Sorry if you missed it but Carter was waived at the trade deadline when they couldn’t even find a second-round pick for him in a trade. Gotta admit I’m not all that surprised and while I heard there was some interest in him in Houston and maybe Denver, he hasn’t found a gig yet.
Q: Hi Doug. Not a question to get posted, just a comment I'd hope you'd read.
A few weeks back someone mentioned their dislike of the floor camera angle. I wanna just state why court side cam is appreciated. Seeing the game from ground level really puts into perspective how talented these guys are for their size. When you watch games from upper deck or on TV, the size of the players becomes relative and you lose out on how lengthy and agile these guys are. When I get a few shots from the baseline it's like I'm standing in the doorway of a gym watching these 6 to 7 footers play.
Cory G, Jasper
A: I’m okay with giving equal billing to someone who likes that shot. I’d think you’re in the minority but you make a valid point.
This lady could croon.
Q: Doug. Did the Raptors miss 10 or 12 shots in a row in the 4th quarter last night? Did our new coach even fathom calling a time-out?
Can you please tell me what Triano's record was last year versus Casey's this year? I sure did not see any defensive improvement when John Lucas Jr lights up Jose Calderon. Maybe our Canadian Forces could do a better job.
Do you think MLSE will ever have a professional basketball team in Canada?
To call this a professional (NBA) team is a travesty. Toronto basketball fans deserve better.
Rick B, Markham
A: Yeah, actually, your new coach did call a timeout and got one at the TV break, too. And I think it was 11 misses but I’m not sure.
Jay’s record last year? Well, I suppose I could suggest you go look it up but what the heck: They were 21-61; and Dwane this year is 15-32. Compare? Contrast? Impossible. Different teams, different styles, different leagues. One has nothing to do with the other.
And no, you probably didn’t see a lot of defensive improvement on those 10 or 12 possessions but if you’re going to pick nits, I could probably find 100 examples of improved team defence this year. But I’m pretty sure you’d ignore those.
And no, there will never be professional basketball in Canada so go watch the pucks or something. But please keep reading here, you’re the lifeblood of my job.
Q: Hi Doug. I'm wondering if this summer the Houston Rockets wouldn't make for a great source of assets for our Heros of the Hardcourt?
You've surely noticed Goran Dragic's play since he's stepped into Lowry's starting role because of injury. Hard nosed kid, great passer and heck of a competitor. He's set to be a RFA this summer. Lowry himself would be an ideal fit in Toronto. I can't see Houston wanting to pay them both starting PG money so maybe we can help?
I see several scenarios that would work, Kevin Martins 3pt shooting would be very welcomed (we have room for his contract) Houston’s lacking young bigs to develop, enter Ed Davis or Amir Johnson. I'm already drooling at Sign and Trade Dragic, Martin for Calderon, DeMarr and Davis.
I know it's pipedream stuff, but better then watching 4th quarter collapses this time of year no?
Derek A, Fredericton
A: You’re going to trade DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis and Jose Calderon for Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic?
You’re going to maybe – maybe – upgrade your point guard spot, weaken your shooting guard spot with someone older, more selfish and shot-happy. Oh, and you’re giving up on a 22-year-old kid who hasn’t yet had a full training camp or full season to learn his craft.
You’re really Darryl Morey, aren’t you?
Now, I think Dragic is okay; I think Martin is far, far past whatever prime he might have had and if I was a fan of team whose GM made that deal, I’d storm the arena.
A blast from the past.