The end of the weekend mail
Here we go again; well done, a couple of lists I’m sure you’ll weigh in on and some other fun stuff.
Hurry through it and the rest of your chores, though. We’ll be back around 8:30 tonight for the return of the IGBT if you’d like.
Q: Doug. Thought you'd enjoy it if you haven't seen this.
Wilbur L, Toronto
A: I hadn’t seen it and that’s pretty cool and since Dwane has referred to his weird and wacky matchup zone defence as an Eephus pitch, kind of fits here, doesn’t it?
Q: Hey Doug. How many first ballot HOF players are in the league right now? How many of those will be inducted in the next 5 years (in the twilight of their career).
This question comes from the perspective of trying to compare the talent in the league now compared to era's past.
Colin K, Ann Arbor
A: No one’s going to get inducted until five years after their playing careers so the “twilight of their career” point doesn’t hold.
And you know that I’m a bit of a hard-ass when it comes to Halls of Fame and immediate induction so I’m marking this hard.
I would hope there are only three who are first-ballot locks and they are Kobe, LeBron and Duncan.
Now, I’m sure guys like Wade and Tony Parker and Kevin Durant (although he’s way young to be thinking about that now) would get some consideration and probably will be but I’m sticking with my three.
Q: Ok Doug, hopefully this is something different for the mail.
Favourite named arenas/fields? My list includes almost any Brit location like Anfield or White Hart Lane, then the Rose Garden, The Palace, Camden Yards (my current fav), Ebbets Field, Polo Grounds (all time fav). I understand teams taking corporate sponsorship money but I do miss places having a unique name. Enjoy!
Heath M, Toronto
A: Oh, I need to mimic yours in a lot of ways, Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field are top of the list for sure but how about Lambeau Field (they didn’t sell out on that one) and, you know, when you say, The Forum, people know what you’re talking about.
But the all-time best one on my list:
Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego for one very simple reason.
It was named after a sportswriter!!!!!!!
Q: OK, need questions, here is one in the spirit of the NBA awards. Given their time on the Raptors (not what happen before or after,) Award these:
MVP, Coach, Defensive player, sixth man, best rookie season, all Raptors team 1,2,and 3 (of course by position.)
And best quote, ever.
Bruce M, Winnipeg
A: Hmm, I’m hoping I understand your question correctly, just when they were in Toronto, right?
MVP: Vince Carter.
Coach: Butch Carter.
Defensive player: Doug Christie.
Sixth man: Morris Peterson or Dee Brown (a tie)
Best rookie season: Damon Stoudamire.
All-Raptor first: Alvin Williams, Christie, Carter, Chris Bosh, Antonio Davis.
All-Raptor second: Jose Calderon, Tracy McGrady, Morris Peterson, Charles Oakley, Kevin Willis.
All-Raptor third: Damon Stoudamire, DeMar DeRozan, Dell Curry, Andrea Bargnani, Keon Clark.
Now, I bet there are half a dozen guys I’ve forgotten but that’s what I’ve got and, man, centre has been a black hole, no?
Best quote's a no-brainer: Oak, who once said something to the effect of "no use crying over spilled milk, just go to the store and buy some more."
Q: Hey Doug. Apologies if you've answered this question before, but do you know if there has ever been discussions about bringing a WNBA team to Toronto or elsewhere in Canada?
Diego S, Toronto
A: Probably have answered it at some time in the distant past but no big deal.
Yes, there was some very, very, very preliminary thought way back probably a decade ago but it didn’t get any traction whatsoever. And there was some talk of an outside investors group looking at Toronto a few years ago but it died a rapid death, too.
Would it work? I have my doubts but I do think there’s a segment of the population that would like it. But financially, I think it’s a tough sell.
Q: What is your take on the Kyle Lowry situation in Houston. If you were the Raptors GM would you seriously consider going after Lowry who has two years left on his contract at about 5-6 million (which is a bargain in my opinion)
Mario A, Toronto
A: Oh, I’d absolutely make a call but I’d probably be on hold while about 20 other GMs made calls, too.
Now, the reporter in me loves that he put his disgruntlement out there; I know for a fact Houston management would hate having dirty laundry aired in public.
Q: Hi Doug. I just read about Kyle Lowry publicly saying it's either him or McHale. I know a couple of weeks ago there was a discussion here about the merits of a Kyle Lowry. He is a solid second-tier PG and his contract is very reasonable. So, in the absence of being able to get a Chris Paul-type, he seems like a remarkable asset for a team.
My question isn't so much "should the Raps make a run at him", because I think 20+ teams around the league will make that call now. I think the question is more: if you're management, how do you deal with a situation like that? You can't allow the players to dictate who the coach is (Dwight Howard) and Lowry's been away from McHale for a month now with cooler heads not yet prevailing. You also know it's already hard getting good value for a player like Lowry and he's just brought all offers down to the 2004 CAD exchange rate.
On the flip-side, if I'm a GM calling Moray, do I only offer my $0.65 on the dollar because, "what if the guy clashes with my coach, too?"
Official kick-off-to-the-summer-weekend here in Ottawa: Ottawa Race Weekend. Wish me luck!
David T, Ottawa
A: If I’m Houston, the first thing I do is get Lowry and McHale in a room and see if their differences can be worked out. And even if they can’t, I make sure the message coming out of the meeting is that things aren’t as bad as they first appeared and it’s time to move forward just so you don’t get a lot of bargain-basement offers.
There’ll be a bit more on Lowry in the morning; there’s an interesting angle I need to explore today.
Oh, hope the race went well.
Q: Greetings, inspired by the submission in Saturday's mail dealing with potential dangers in kids playing hockey and football. To possible ridicule... but looking back at my personal experience of years playing hockey there was a time when the sheer enjoyment of the game carried the day. Initially either pond hockey or road hockey, we played for the fun of it, were we competitive? Absolutely. Did we learn determination? Absolutely. Did our skills develop? Absolutely, although in my case maybe "somewhat" would be more appropriate. Anyway then came "organized" hockey and the path down the slippery slope started.
Equipment was still fairly rudimentary when I started to play, basic stuff, first year not even a mouthguard. As the years went on the organization became more and more "organized", expectations rose and "safety" equipment evolved. Point being is many years later, playing men's league with those that grew up in the same era and learned to respect each other and ourselves, we could play to the extent of our skills and be reasonably sure that everyone would be able to go to work in the morning. As our kids started to join the games things changed. Our kids had grown up being required to wear the head to toe armour that kids do now and one very interesting fact was displayed. This generation had absolutely no understanding of what, for example, a stick to the head could do, and consequently, paid no heed to what their stick may be doing at any given instant. Somewhere along the line the "fun" was morphed from what it originally had been.
When I read of the injury issues today, and it is an oversimplification to blame just one thing, I can't help but think we removed a part of a process that while admittedly had dangers also provided a very important lesson in the respect necessary to compete.
Doug T, Brantford
A: I can’t speak to this entirely first-hand because I don’t have any offspring playing hockey – or football, for that matter – and I don’t do it myself.
But I do think the sense of invincibility thanks to improvement in equipment made lead to more bravado, and some reckless play. I would imagine kids – and adults – think “oh, I got hit this way and it didn’t hurt me because of this equipment, it won’t hurt the other guy” and that’s a dangerous thought process.
Of course, the flipside is that kids are without question better protected by better equipment – you don’t see anyone with Sears catalogues as shin pads any more – but it truly is a double-edged sword.
Q: Hi Doug. I've read three articles in the last three weeks that have suggested various players making big money that teams may look to unload for financial reasons and how the Raps might be able to pick up. The names on all three articles were almost identical. While it's nothing more than speculation if you had to pick one of the below players a team might unload for cheap (our pick and one or two younger, cheaper players), Which player would you pick.
Granger from Indy
Iggy for Philly
Gay from Memphis
Joe Johnson or Josh Smith from Atlanta.
Who would you choose? Thanks!
Jeffrey M, Saint John
A: Well, since I’m not sure who shoots more long twos between Iguodala and Gay and I’m a little worried about Granger’s overall game and because I absolutely despise Iso-Joe action in Atlanta and I cringe every time Smith hoists a three-pointer, maybe the answer should be no one.
But I will say this for certain: I think of that group of players Josh Smith is the best talent so I guess he’s at the top of the list.
Q: Minor issue: Noticed that two voters didn't choose Lebron James for 1st team All-NBA. Given Lebron's MVP season is considered one of the all-time historical best, any information on whether those two naysayers reside in Cleveland?
Regarding the old NBA playoff axiom: The more talented team always wins. Wondering about your take on why this isn't usually the case with hockey?
Marc M, Mississauga
A: We don’t know who had the brain cramp – or personal vendetta – that cause the inexcusable exclusion of LeBron from the first team because despite discussion with and requests from the Professional Basketball Writers Association, we have been unable to convince the league of the need for more transparency in the voting process. Rest assured, it will come up again at our annual Finals meeting next month. Shocking and a little appalling and in some way denigrates the entire process.
As for the pucks thing? I’ll guess this: In basketball, the best players have the ball and impact the play far, far, far more often than the best players on a hockey team do with the puck. That’s where talent truly shines; LeBron James, for instance, might play 41 minutes of a 48-minute game and make a play of some sort on 90 per cent of his team’s possessions. How much does the best hockey player play in a game? 25 minutes? And in, say, a one-minute shift he might not even touch the puck, let alone make a play that leads to a scoring chance.
Q: Hi Doug. Wonderful work (as always), so thank you!
I know they are no friends of yours, but old (un)reliable 'Sources' are working OT, and I can't help but see merit in the often silly rumours.
Sources say that Nash has no interest in New York (not surprising), but also that a contender may take a back seat to a 2-year deal + option to finish up in Toronto. I know we have heard this before, but would it be folly to imagine the Raps drafting or acquiring a talented, raw PG who could be mentored by Nash and Calderon, and then focusing resources on a legit 3 (Batum is a long shot, but worth pursuit)._Thoughts?
Mark T, Toronto
A: I think that’s entirely plausible and it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s in the minds of Bryan and The Henchmen right now. Whether it’s possible or not is weeks and weeks away from being known but it has to be a consideration.
Q: Any chance the Raptors go after Shane Battier this off-season? He IS a Dwane Casey fantasy.
Drew L, Edmonton
A: Two or three years ago? Sure. Today? I wonder how much is left in the tank.
Q: Hello Doug, as requested some mail for you.
Two questions: first, about the Heat. Let's say they don't win a title this year, and D-Wade goes to management and says trade either me or LeBron. Obviously they'd probably keep LeBron over Wade unless Heat management is on some massive trip, so my question would be: if a demand like that was made, what teams would want to take Wade, and what could Miami get for him -- or Bosh, for that matter? And would it be worth it for Miami to explore a Wade for Deron Williams sign-and-trade?
Second: You've been around the Raptors since the very beginning. So when does our beloved grunt publish "The Definitive History of the Toronto Raptors"? We all know this franchise has some unbelievable plot lines that would make for incredible reading!
Also, I'm heading into sports writing myself (hopefully on a beat as well) and your blog and work covering the Raptors is a major influence on my writing, so thank you very much for that. Keep up the great work!
Simon S-G Toronto
A: Okay, you know I don’t like to play too many “what-if” games and that first scenario is too far-fetched to even think about, to tell you the truth. Let’s just say every team in organized basketball would want Wade and you would have to gut your team to get him.
Book? I need a publisher and an agent and a guaranteed readership but we are coming up on the 20th anniversary of an organization that’s been a far better story than a team so I’m all ears if anyone wants to make an offer.
Q: Something for the mailbag as requested.
So, Van Gundy's out in Orlando, a guy I think is among the best coaches in the game. It reminded me of something I hear from time to time, that players have a harder time respecting coaches who have never played the game themselves (or at least not at the NBA level). As someone much closer to the game, any thoughts?
I just read that Jerry Sloan might want to get back into the NBA coaching ranks. Now, not being of quite the same vintage as yourself, I never got to see him play, but I've read that he was quite the tenacious player. So, list time, however you want to do this. Past or present, head coaches only or assistants as well, starting 5 or full roster, who would be on your team of best players who later became coaches? Cheers.
Jonathan M, Toronto
A: I don’t think that aversion to coaches who weren’t players exists any more, especially after a few of them – Stan, Frank Vogel come quickly to mind – have had success. Does it help a coach to have gone through the playing grind? Maybe but it’s not something anyone counts against them any more; it’s about teaching and if you can teach and reach players, it doesn’t matter what your past is.
You want a starting five of former players who turned out to be good coaches? Hmm. Another tough one but …
Guards: Doc Rivers and Doug Collins and that’s leaving out Pat Riley (not an accomplished enough playing career) and Lenny Wilkens and several others.
Forwards: Phil Jackson and Don Nelson, I guess; Kevin McHale might come off the bench.
Centre: Bill Russell.
Again, I have to be forgetting a dozen others, someone will remind me who they are, I’m sure.