The end of the weekend mail
Okay, folks, you came through again, as always, and there are even a couple of “list-like” queries that I’ll save for what looks like another slow week coming.
Q: Dylan singing Maggie's Farm for Labour Day??!! Doug, can it get any better? You could go out on top right now.
Q: Music: We remember Dave Winfield's fondness for good jazz. HWSNBN listened to Rap. We can learn a lot about Blue Jays players by what song they select to accompany them as they stroll from batter's box to take their turn at bat (check out "Escobar's" Afro-Cuban horns as he goes to bat). What would you say about pro athletes and music? How do they need-use music? Conflicts over what should- should not be played in locker room-clubhouse? Is music a window into the soul of the pro athlete coping with the demands of the profession?
Charles N, Toronto
A: I’ve asked a few of them about the “need” for music, mostly when I see basketball players sitting in front of their lockers with monstrous headphones on and most of them have told me it’s get to the adrenaline flowing. Guess that makes sense.
Their choices are interesting and almost always loud, heavy bass-influenced music, it seems, that pulsates.
And in the Raptors room, at least, there is a no-music rule during any media availability time or pre-game time, at least not blaring out of speakers, players retreat to their own heads rather than impose their interests on others. That avoids any conflict, which is a good thing.
Not sure if it’s a coping mechanism as much as it is a relaxation method (post-game, and on planes and buses) or simply a way to get a bit pumped up pre-game.
Q: Doug: Not much happening in the Raptors world, so, what's your game day routine? Steak, or pasta, (a can of what Bargnani promotes)? What time do you get to the Center? Any pregame rituals, wear your lucky sox or underwear until they lose? Please fill us in.
Ken B, Matheson
A: I wish I could remember my game-day routine. It’s been a while.
But, as I recall, it includes getting to the arena for shootaround about 10:30 a.m., doing some quick web work after that, hanging around the press room much of day getting some stuff done for that night and the next morning, dinner around 4 p.m. (was $12, usually very good, the pasta bar is my favourite with big old beef ribs second, the soups are always good) and then the pre-game stuff starts about 5 p.m., game at 7, write ‘til 11 or 12 and decompress.
But as for rituals and the like? Don’t really have any, although I have sat in the same seat in the corner of the work area for the past dozen years or so and I presume I will again.
Q: Greetings, among other things the TOD's challenges this season have got me to thinking. Not to dump on the team (or the management) unnecessarily but I have begun to wonder whether those of us that constitute the fan base may hold several misconceptions regarding the culture of professional sport. As kids playing road hockey or sandlot baseball or schoolyard hoops, we probably all begin playing simply for the enjoyment that the game brings. Some of us fall under the competition spell and we pursue our passion. Generally speaking, at least in my own experience, the pursuit of a goal is what provides the focus to muster the discipline necessary to "win" whatever it is we are playing for. To make the "team", to make the playoffs, to win the championship, etc.
>With a single-minded pursuit one overlooks the future for the immediate.
As fans, are we under the misconception that all professional athletes are motivated by the pursuit of a championship? Or is the focus a little more pragmatic and less centered on just winning? Don't mean any disrespect to the athletes, truly none of us should have to be completely focused on the present at the cost of our future, professional sports is after all, the athletes job.
Curious for your take
Thanks, as always
Doug T, Brantford
A: I think they do in the bottom of their hearts strive to win every single game they play, regardless of whether or not they are a good enough team to win a championship. Now, as we all know, people have good and bad days at work, sometimes you’re tired, cranky, a bit beaten up and that will always have an impact on how well you play, or work. That’s just a fact of life you can’t do anything about.
They are, I would say, motivated to be the best they can be because that brings rewards like money and fame, and that’s always in every employee’s mind, isn’t it?
Q: Nike co-founder Phil Knight is being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I think this is ridiculous. This is the company that pays hundreds of millions of dollars to already overpaid NBA players. The result is that yours and my kids have to pay over a hundred dollars for a pair of $10.00 shoes. I don't think NIKE has anything to do with the game of basketball. Are Adidas and Reebok next?
What's your take on this?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: My take is much like yours. I think it was a silly idea to enshrine him as a “builder” because what he built was a multi-billion dollar business on the back of the game and there was nothing, in my opinion, altruistic about his intentions. Nike wanted to build a “brand” (some would say “cult”) and did, using basketball as a conduit.
It lessens, in my mind, the Hall of Fame.
Q: Hi Doug. Thanks for the blog, it's daily reading around here!
I've been reading your blog for about five years, and I've seen some changes in the content and scope over that time. Adding things, taking things away, and the general evolution of this space.
I'm curious when you look back over your years of writing this blog what you see has been the biggest change for you, and what you hope to see in the future.
Thanks again Doug, keep up the great writing!
Peter R, Regina
A: The biggest change, aside from the amount of time it takes to come up with fresh stuff five days a week, has been the expansion of what we write about here. It’s been fun to branch out into other sports and some pop culture while keeping a solid base of basketball that stretches beyond simply rehashing Raptors stuff and into international games, women’s basketball, and issues of the game.
I know some people aren’t thrilled with that but it’s staid and boring to do one thing every day.
Where are we going? I wish I knew. If you’d told me a year ago that we’d be talking about issues outside of sports, I might have scoffed.
But with a new season approaching – and that’s when the calendar really turns here – we need to find something new and interesting to do. It’s part of the growth process and it’s something I have to come up with in the next couple of weeks.
Got any ideas, folks?
Q: Looking for a sax solo for Super Son...how about Chicago song (David Sanborn)
Dale D, Toronto
A: Okay, if you insist.
Q: Noticed Tom Anselmi on an interim basis reports to the board through the chair which I understand to be Larry Tanenbaum. Will Bryan still have the opportunity to address the board personally or will the corporate chain be followed? I know it's early days but presentations is one of Bryan's Strong attributes and if and when a CEO is announced BC could be 2 levels from the board, don't envision BC sitting passively by though.
PS. There's hope for Orlando. Check out Little New Orleans Rest, owned by a Viet from Orleans. Seafood only, crawfish, crab, $3 imports, beignets.
Wonderfully prepared, go casual, get messy and enjoy. Your editor will love you (feast for two with drinks $45), 15 min north of arena.
John C, Mississauga
A: As far as I know, if there’s a case Bryan needs to make to the board, he will. And I’m sure he’ll still be doing the same reports to them as he did when Peddie was there and when Anselmi was in the interim phase of the job.
And I don’t know that the eventual addition of a CEO will change that.
Thanks on the Orlando tip; not sure if we have the night off before a game or if it’s a traditional back-to-back with Miami but if I can get there, I will.
Q: Hello Doug. Just wondering what's happening around Casa Colangelo (aka the ACC) as mid-September rolls around. How many troops are in town at this point? Enough for some 3 on 3 pickups? Has JV found his way to TO yet? And what are the coaches up to at this point in the pre-pre-season? Thanks for all you do, and great blog.
David M, Ottawa
A: I’m not entirely sure who is in town, to tell you the truth.
I know Quincy Acy, Ed Davis and Terrence Ross are due in today, or might even be here; I understand Jose’s back in the first of this week and I believe I heard Jonas and Kleiza are due in, too.
I’d say by the end of the week, the entire roster pretty much will be in town.
Coaches? I’m told Dwane’s here and I imagine his staff, if it’s not already in town, will be by the middle of the week.
This is pretty much the week when everyone checks in and things pick up.
Q: So, the kids are back in school and all seems right with the world. And it's 27 consecutive years and counting for me having kids (still!) in school - although at this stage of their academic journey one no longer has to make lunches or sign permission slips. University may be *slightly* (hahahaha) more costly, but at least you're not required to go on field trips to Pioneer Village for the umpteenth time or make cupcakes for the class on their birthdays.
Anyway, the oldest daughter and I were driving past a group of kids waiting for their school bus the other morning and I commented how nice and sort of professional they all looked in their uniforms. And I made a gentle comment about how I wished there'd been standardized clothing rules at the school she'd attended. Well. I was the recipient of a 20-minute long impassioned rant about how uniforms restrict personal freedom, individual expression and stifle creativity etc etc.
Now, I never went to a school requiring a uniform but I can definitely see the advantages - no fussing about what to wear in the morning, no competition (or is that primarily a teenage girl thing?) about who's got the cooler closet, and it's got to be easier on the wallet for parents.
So, did you ever have to wear a uniform to school? Did it - or would it - have cramped your style, sartorially speaking? And if The Star enacted a standardized clothing requirement in your contract would you welcome it or fight it? And if you had to design one, what would the Perfect Beat Grunt Standardized Duds look like? Thank you!
Lorie P, London
A: Luckily, I was never subjected to school uniforms, back in the day in the public system we were left to our devices and it generally went to jeans and some kind of t-shirt or sweater. The more casual the better and the neighbourhood kids who were in the separate school board system were often mocked a bit for their get-ups. Cruel but we were kids.
And if they told me what I had to wear at work, I’d resist for sure; I’m all about shorts and t-shirts from the end of the draft until the start of camp and as long as we’re presentable, I think that’s all that matters.
My perfect outfit? In the summer it’d be shorts and some cool t-shirt from a neat bar or something like that, casual slacks and golf shirts for practice and something more dressy (say, a light red shirt and tie) for games.
Q: Hey Doug. Going to help you out.
Who would you say is the greatest player to have ever played in the NBA? Now it is almost unanimous around the globe that Michael Jordan is the greatest player. However, shouldn't the greatest player be more than just a scorer or, a passer or, a rebounder or, a shot blocker?
Wouldn't Magic Johnson or I daresay, Lebron James (by the time his career is finished and assuming he wins multiple championships) be more worthy of such a title?
Shariq D, Karachi
A: I’m going to assume you have the luxury of youth on your side but I will respectfully suggest you google Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell and then you might revise your list.
I’d put Oscar among any list of best player but it’s so subjective, and so impossible to compare eras, it really is an exercise in futility.
But a fun one for some.
Q: Hey Doug. How good do you think Andrew Wiggins can be? Are the comparisons to LeBron and Kobe hyperbole? or is he truly the second coming of Jordan? If it's the latter, considering he is a hometown kid, is there any chance the Raps make a serious push in two years to trade for whoever gets the number one? They were willing to unload the truck for Nash, would they do the same to land this kid?
Andrew P, Toronto
A: Sure, that kind of comparison of a teenager to the current greats is entirely hyperbole but by every account of everyone I’ve spoken to who has seen him often, Wiggins has a chance – and he’s a teenager with a lot of time ahead of him – to be among the very best in the game.
And I’ll answer your last questions with my own:
If Wiggins is that good, why would a team with the chance to draft him, trade that right?
Q: Hi Doug. I'm anxiously awaiting the start of camp and a season which will have our beloved Raps will finish 9th in the east. We all know former players like Jerome Williams, Mo Pete and Charles Oakley (my all-time fave Rap) can be spotted at a game from time to time. Likely a scenario in which the team is happy to give a couple courtside tix to a former employee. My question is, are there any former players, coaches, and or execs that are not so welcome within the confines of the ACC? Please insert dirt here. Thanks
Dave S, Toronto
A: Not, really, no. Look, anyone who left on the less than good terms isn’t likely going to want to come back for a visit so it rarely, if ever, comes up. And if someone who might not be the favourite of management called and asked, I’m sure they’d be taken care of, but I don’t remember that ever happening.
Q: Hi Doug. Since it is the start of TIFF I was wondering if you will be attending any movies or if TIFF interests you at all. This may have been asked in the past, but what are your favourite 3 basketball documentaries.
Lastly, I have seen a lot of Steve Nash's brief videos and if I remember correctly he co-directed a Terry Fox documentary. I hope he continues to produce and perhaps showcase a film at TIFF one day.
Thanks as always!!
Monty M, Toronto
A: I won’t be at any TIFF stuff, I don’t think; unless someone drops a couple of freebies on my desk, which is unlikely. And I’m not really a red carpet kind of guy anyway. I would like to see the 9.79 documentary on Ben Johnson and Seoul, though.
My top three on basketball?
Hoop Dreams, Once Brothers and the Len Bias one as part of ESPN’s 30 at 30 series.
I know there’ve been other great ones, including the one this summer of the 1992 Dream Team but those three would be tops.
Maybe one day this week we’ll do all sports in the regular blog if someone would remind me. Thanks.
Q: When will the Rogers Centre be replaced? Can we now call it " The Mistake by the Lake"? (I know, already taken)
I still think they should have named the dome using the great Conn Smythe's first name. All the best!
Bob E, Kanata
A: I have nothing to add. Classic.
Q: I made some blunders in my last question about reviewing General Managers.
I know it's been a while since the 2007-2008 season but due to the nature of the GM issue the echoes are still reverberating. I left out the expected win totals. A 100.2-97.3 season is expected to produce a 47-33 won lost record. A 99.0-101.9 season is expected to produce a 33-49 record. That's a big drop. They only won 41 games in 2007-2008. That's horribly unlucky.
Jim R, Toronto
A: Expected? By who? And why? And yes, 47 wins to 33 is a big drop, stuff happens. Funny how you conveniently left out the 27-47 win increase; guess it doesn’t fit the narrative.
Look, you have an issue with the GM, pretty easy to see. Fine; it’s not an opinion I tend to share, the guy took his shots, some worked, many didn’t, he charted a course the day Bosh left and hasn’t deviated. Not good enough? Maybe to you but I cannot understand how any would be surprised, it’s not like it wasn’t clearly spelled out.
So we’ll be done with this for now.